Please note that I’ve now published my full in-depth review of the FR15. You should head over to that post to get all caught up.
Today Garmin has announced their newest product, the Garmin FR15. The FR15 is the latest edition to the budget GPS range that Garmin initiated about 2 years ago with the Forerunner 10. This new watch builds on the previous edition by incorporating many of the day to day activity monitoring features of the Vivofit activity tracker that was released earlier this year.
Before we get into the details, I’d like to briefly point out that I have only had brief hands-on time with the unit back a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, as part of that I wasn’t in a position to take any photos. In theory that wouldn’t really have been a problem as a unit was on the way for me to poke at. Except, like my Mom’s Christmas cookies – the package clearance system here in France knows no limits, nor plays by any announcement dates. It beats to its own drum. As a result, the package is caught somewhere, and that somewhere isn’t here with me. (Update: Just added some photos now that I have the unit in-hand)
Nonetheless, between my brief previous hands-on time and now I’ve got good enough details to give you the low-down and provide some initial thoughts. As the unit gets closer to release later this “spring” (aka May/June sometime), I’ll have my usual full in-depth review. Well, assuming French customs eventually cooperates anyway…
Background and the Hardware:
It’s probably best to simply think of the FR15 as a FR10 that grew up and went to school. The original FR10 was announced in August of 2012, and was the first budget GPS watch that Garmin introduced. At the time there were a handful of sub-$100 GPS watches hitting the market, and Garmin’s nearest offering was more than double that. The FR10 landed in at $129US – a slight premium over the other units.
That premium came in the form of upload capabilities (the others didn’t allow uploads/downloads), as well as a more well known brand. There’s no question that watch was a huge success. One only needs to browse your comments of my FR10 review to see that nearing 600 comments and I think there’s only a couple people who had any troubles. It is simple, easy to use and had a really high ‘just works’ factor. No heart rate support or anything fancy. Just how far, how fast, and how long.
The unit came in two basic editions: Small and large. Initially the small models were in more traditional feminine colors, while the larger models in less feminine colors. About 8 months later Garmin introduced more colors and things evened out to more neutral options.
With that background in mind, let’s talk about the FR15’s hardware. Here’s the skinny:
– Same exact outer shell: Nothing has changed size-wise. It’s identical to before.
– Addition of ANT+ sensor support
– Addition of activity monitor functions
– Increased battery life
And that’s it. It’s really rather simple. It still has GPS, and it still tells you how far, how fast and how long. And it still uploads via USB to your computer – ultimately spitting out data on Garmin Connect including the below:
It follows what is a well established Garmin precedent for hardware evolution by the company: Take a hardware model, tweak the internals slightly – add a handful of new features, and release it as a new edition. But the outer shell is always kept the same. For example:
And on and on… and that’s just within the Fitness division. Models are often used across divisions – like to the golfing side.
I’ll cover both the ANT+ sensor piece as well as well as the activity monitor portion in a second. That really just leaves the battery. It’s been upped from 5 hours to 8 hours in active GPS mode, and 5 weeks in standby/activity monitor mode. This is key because many folks that were in the target market for the FR10 found that it didn’t last for the length of a full marathon. Or, at a minimum was cutting it really close after real-world battery usage pegged it at a bit less than 5 hours. Going to 8 hours puts it in the same ballpark as most of Garmin’s non-endurance running watches, in between 8 and 10 hours.
The ANT+ Sensors:
Probably the single biggest blocker for most people I heard that were looking at the FR10 was the lack of heart rate support. The unit simply didn’t connect to any ANT+ accessories.
The FR15 changes that by adding in both ANT+ heart rate sensor support, as well as ANT+ footpod support. It’ll connect to any ANT+ heart rate strap, be it Garmin branded or otherwise. As long as it has an ANT+ logo on the back (which is all Garmin straps). And, the same goes for footpods. As long as it’s an ANT+ footpod it doesn’t matter if it was made by Garmin, Timex, or someone else.
The ANT+ footpod is used indoors on a treadmill in order to gather pace/distance, as well as when passing through areas without GPS signal coverage – such as in a tunnel during a run.
In my opinion the interesting move here is actually the footpod support. I say this because technically speaking the unit could likely do internal calculation of pace/distance just like the FR220 does today. In fact, the unit does a variant of this while recording your daily walked steps and distance, but it’s not set to do it for fitness activities like running inside or in a tunnel.
Finally, when it comes to display of data fields, the unit retains the previous variant of Panera Bread style “Pick 2” data fields that you can select from to view at any point in time, but otherwise offers minimal customization of any settings. It can display both pace (i.e. minutes/mile or minutes/kilometer), as well as speed (i.e. MPH or KPH). The FR15 simply adds the ability to show current heart rate.
Daily Activity Monitoring:
This past winter Polar became the first GPS watch maker to announce the addition of a daily activity monitor into a GPS watch footprint (while a connected web service) with their V800. It seemed like a natural fit. After all – many people who owned a GPS watch were also interested in the fast growing activity monitor products that tracked steps, distance walked, total calories, sleep and other metrics.
The only challenge there was that the V800 is aimed at the more serious endurance athlete – starting at $450US. Well beyond the reach of those that were previously looking at $100 activity monitors and $100-200 GPS watches. Still, it set a precedent. And if Polar set the precedent, than Garmin is setting a very clear mandate: Any GPS watch from here on out will have built-in activity monitoring.
Which, it would have to. After all, this is getting pretty close to the ‘floor’ of the GPS watch market price-wise. So anything more expensive not having it would seem out of place (again, going forward).
To that end, the FR15 tracks almost all the things that the Vivofit does. It does steps, calories, and distance – while also retaining a variant of the ‘inactivity’ bar that was found on the Vivofit. In the case of the FR15, the watch visually displays that you that you need to ‘Move!’ if you haven’t done so in the past hour. Typically you’d have to walk about 100-200 steps to ‘clear’ the bar. It also displays a total progress bar against your goal for the day.
With the activity tracker functionality the unit will now upload to the updated Garmin Connect site, allowing you to see daily step totals for the “other 23 hours” of the day you’re not exercising. From there you can use various social connections on the Garmin Connect platform to ‘compete’ with friends or yourself in competitions on steps – ultimately motivating you to move more. This information can be accessed either from your phone or your computer.
But there are some areas that it lacks compared to the Vivofit. First is that the FR15 doesn’t track sleep. Personally I don’t see that as a huge loss, as I feel that the Vivofit does a poor job of tracking that anyway. Or rather, a poor job of displaying the results of that. The data simply isn’t detailed or actionable enough to be of any value. [Update May 22nd: Garmin has decided that Sleep will be added to the FR15 at some point in the Summer 2014]
Second, and most importantly – the FR15 doesn’t contain a Bluetooth Smart enabled chipset. As a result you’ll have to plug it in via USB to upload any collected data – both daily steps/distance as well as completed fitness activities (GPS/indoors). That’s a pretty substantial downside, especially in the activity monitoring market where everything is uploaded these days wirelessly via Bluetooth Smart to your phone – often in real-time every few minutes without a single button being pushed. That enables people to quickly check their weekly averages, goal tracking and most importantly – competition status.
Thus I’m not quite clear on why Garmin made such an obvious omission. For most users of the FR10 they likely aren’t exercising every single day, but rather, a portion of the days each week. Therefor plugging the unit in each day to upload daily activity data seems a bit awkward. Further, adding the functionality wouldn’t have likely impacted sales of the higher end FR220 unit – since these probably weren’t people that were going to spend an extra $80 anyway. Most are folks looking at various $100-$120 activity monitors and GPS units and deciding which one to get, not which both to get. Based on which product they selected, their phone and a free or $1 app probably would have filled the gap for the other.
Which isn’t to say that the FR15 won’t be popular. I’m sure it will be, assuming no technical issues, as it strikes a good balance in every other area. It’s just that it seems an odd inability given the state of connected wearables today.
The FR15 makes things a bit tricky in that I actually have two separate categories in the product comparison tool – one for GPS units, and one for activity trackers. While the GPS unit category already had line-items for 24×7 activity tracking, I did need to expand activity monitor product type slightly to accommodate it. That said, it’s still two distinct product types for the meantime, thus there are two charts at play.
The first from the GPS product category is the FR10, FR15 and FR220. I went with just showing Garmin-only units on this chart to show the progression of features more easily. Of course, you can always make your own charts with any products in the product comparison tool here.
Next, looking at the activity tracker category I went with the Vivofit, FR15, and Polar Loop. All three of which support heart rate tracking during an activity. Again, you can always mix and match your own products via the comparison table tool.
The FR15 definitely carves out a really interesting market segment. Garmin went slightly lower than half-way between their mid-range running watch (the $250 FR220), and their least expensive GPS watch (the $129 FR10), effectively creating a new category. By adding in both day to day activity tracking and ANT+ sensor support for heart rate and footpods, they’ve pretty much created a new category price point.
Or, at the least – redefined it. It used to be that the price point in the GPS market was basically in three rough blocks:
Garmin would always push the upper end of the two lower tiers price-wise, while traditionally sticking to the $400 marker for the high-end units.
The FR15 will be an interesting driver in the market though. That’s because some of the currently $160-$200 GPS watches actually have the technical guts to do activity tracking. For example, the TomTom units could technically do it if developed and enabled via firmware. If they were to add that function they’d have an upper hand because the unit offers Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phone uploads, as well as having a host more features.
In the adjacent activity tracker segment, Garmin has basically taken the upper-end price range (i.e. the Nike Fuelband and other more expensive units) and plopped a GPS watch on top of it. That’s going to be very tempting for people that don’t mind the difference between a band and a watch. The only catch is, again, lack of mobile phone connectivity.
Still, I’m looking forward to seeing if it performs as well as a combined Vivofit and FR10 unit. Given so many people are generally quite happy with the hardware on both of those products – it’ll be interesting to see if the resultant offspring is just as successful.
With that – thanks for reading and feel free to drop any questions below!
Update: The FR15 is now available for pre-order from Clever Training (all colors/bundles). You can support the site and still save a bundle via the Clever Training VIP Program (details on all the benefits at the link). I expect my full in-depth review will be available towards the end of May, pending Garmin finalizing the FR15 software.
You probably stumbled upon here looking for a review of a sports gadget. If you’re trying to decide which unit to buy – check out my in-depth reviews section. Some reviews are over 60 pages long when printed out, with hundreds of photos! I aim to leave no stone unturned.
I travel a fair bit, both for work and for fun. Here’s a bunch of random trip reports and daily trip-logs that I’ve put together and posted. I’ve sorted it all by world geography, in an attempt to make it easy to figure out where I’ve been.
The most common question I receive outside of the “what’s the best GPS watch for me” variant, are photography-esq based. So in efforts to combat the amount of emails I need to sort through on a daily basis, I’ve complied this “My Photography Gear” post for your curious minds! It’s a nice break from the day to day sports-tech talk, and I hope you get something out of it!
Many readers stumble into my website in search of information on the latest and greatest sports tech products. But at the end of the day, you might just be wondering “What does Ray use when not testing new products?”. So here is the most up to date list of products I like and fit the bill for me and my training needs best! DC Rainmaker 2021 swim, bike, run, and general gear list. But wait, are you a female and feel like these things might not apply to you? If that’s the case (but certainly not saying my choices aren’t good for women), and you just want to see a different gear junkies “picks”, check out The Girl’s Gear Guide too.
And that is the end of the Polar V800 as a product………..
I actually don’t think so. Totally different markets.
Moreover since Garmin doesn’t plan to add such capabilities to the Fenix2 (at least at this time), nor the FR910XT. So Polar has a bit of a headstart on things.
Sorry David but you can’t compare the new G15 with the Polar V800 wich offers a whole lot more than the G15! Also a different targetgroup, different price point! The V800 uses the activity sensor to help you calculate your recovery! I wonder if people buying the new G15 are interested in that kind of information! Check the facts again on the review done by Ray earlier this year!
But doesn’t this hint at the fact that the 920XT (or whatever it may be) will include the same features? With the direction of the 620 and now the G15, I think the product direction we can expect is written. The new Garmin tri watch will include the activity tracking with some form of recovery monitoring. The timing would seem to indicate a mid to late 2014 announcement with a 2015 ship timeframe.
I have been waiting for the V800, but the lack of Ant+ support for power meters and this glimpse into the future of Garmin devices, I think, will be bad news for Polar as far as potentially getting folks to jump ship from Garmin to Polar.
Lets hope Garmin extend the activity monitoring feature to the other watches too like the Fenix 2 and the forerunner 620. I noticed that at least the Fenix 2 has a field “Steps” that can be added on the data pages (however it does not show in GC). You think the Garmin high end models hardware allow it? Do you see any reason for the company not wanting these features add in?
(ps – thanks for the great work… great site, and all those things you surely hear every day 😉
Yes! That what I’m looking forward. Fenix 2 (and Forerunner 220/620) has all required hardware as I understand. If it is able to get cadence from a built-in accelerometer it could count steps.
My thoughts exactly re adding this to Fenix 2 etc, Garmin would have nothing to loose and a lot to gain by adding this feature to the fenix 2…. If they wait for the Fenix 3 or 920 updates it feel very late!!
+1 on the integration of daily activity monitoring into the Fenix2.
would be great to ditch my Vivofit and just use the 220
although – the Vivofit is much more day-to-day compatible than the 220 (ie worn at work, shirt suit etc)
The FR220/FR620 lack the low-power mode for the accelerometer needed to make it work as an activity tracker. As per the when I asked back at CES about it.
Phew! thank goodness for that!
Sorry I’m going to be grumpy and say that the 620 is a running watch and the thought of it having all these extra non-running features fills me with dread. I’ve seen people ask for swimming modes, biking modes, navigation features and now even an activity tracker.
Whats great about the 620 is that its simple you don’t have to wade through endless menus to go running. Also the simplicity means theres less likelihood of bugs etc. By all means add running related features but put the other stuff elsewhere.
How does it look situation with Fenix 2 in this case?
Does Fenix 2 have all required hardware ?
I’ve discussed it with them at length. From the discussions, the Fenix2 as designed from a hardware and battery profile standpoint would make for a poor activity tracker unfortunately.
I would like to see the 620 get the bike mode like the 610. Press and hold Mode to switch into cycling mode. Runners who don’t care about biking will never notice the cycling features. But for those of us who both cycle and run, that would be fantastic. I love the weight and size of the 620, but I do ride quite a bit both indoors and out. I would love to see ANT+ speed/cadence support in the 620. The Fenix2 has all that and more, but it’s a monster in size and weight.
Garmin has previously confirmed an update to the FR620 is coming to add a cycling mode that mirrors that of the FR610. It’s planned for ‘Spring’, which extends to June 20th.
It seems as though the addition of HR monitoring means that this fills a very similar niche to the Forerunner 110, albeit with slightly reduced functionality for running. Admittedly the FR110 is nearly 4 years old now so perhaps Garmin aren’t to worried about sales.
Why I have not this version of the garmin connect’s website? 🙂
I do, yeay!
Garmin Connect “Modern” aka GC2 was initially rolled out to Vivofit users in February. Back about 3 weeks or so ago they opened it up to anyone willing to click at the top of GC to try the new version. They seemed to have onboarded enough people that for now have closed it to new folks (unless you have a Vivofit). I suspect you’ll see it open again soon.
First off let me thank you for your website and reviews. As a dad with young kids who is just trying to get back into shape your articles are inspiring, and your reviews both witty and helpful. I am wondering if you think the vivofit step data could be added to the fr220 or 620 with a firmware update? It seems to me they appear to have the ‘innards’ required to be able to track steps. (I recently bought the 220 but have been eyeing the vivofit, and am now thinking perhaps I ought to return the 220 and wait for the fr 15).
The FR220/FR620 lack the low-power mode for the accelerometer needed to make it work as an activity tracker. As per the when I asked back at CES about it.
What is the point of a “activity tracker” with only 8 hours of battery life? Either I want something to track my runs, (any GPS watch) or an activity tracker that lasts all day.
Chris, it’s 8 hours of battery life for GPS tracking. I would imagine significantly longer for just activity tracking (probably 5-7 days).
5 weeks actually
Yes, correct. Sorry, added the 5-week piece above just to be more clear that I was referring just to GPS-on mode.
It is an interesting option, but not one I would choose. I have worn my Vivofit daily since i got it in March and haven’t removed it much. No charging is a big driver for me in an activity monitor and one I think more people will want. I’m ok charging my GPS watch given I wear it and remove it, but having to connect it to get data is crazy these days. There has to be some other big benefit to go this route. Of course for just a bit more money than the Vivofit you get GPS is a big consideration for some. Yeah, there will be a market for this.
The lack of bluetooth upload killed the initial excitement I had. I actually would prefer to have the sleep tracking as well. It might not be terribly useful but at least gives you an average hours/min throughout the week to help determine if you are getting enough sleep.
Ray, which activity tracker are you currently liking the best for the serious athlete who has his other GPS devices yet is interested in steps and sleep recording.
I like both Garmin Vivofit and Polar Loop. Both companies are still in the ‘integration’ phase when it comes to making all that data merge together in a single place. I think it’ll be interesting to see by say, summer, where things stand for both companies.
As for sleep recording though, I don’t find either all that great. For that, Basis is the easy winner.
Might be a very ignorant question, but (having tried a sort-of activity tracker in the form of S Health the last few days) I don´t really understand why the serious athlete would want to count steps?
I do understand the interest in sleep tracking, but (as Ray says) the Basis seems to be head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to that.
Well for me the answer is pretty obvious. I am neither a lifetime athlete neither a couch potato. I run races every other weekend, swim, boxe and workout weekly, however i do have a office job where i spend something like 8 to 10 hours sitting down. My interest with measuring steps is not actually to accumulate them but to keep a minimum level of activity during the day (when not working out). For me the main features are of course sleep (athletes with office jobs tend to slack in this field) and Inactivity alerts, reminding me to walk to the water dispenser or to go down on the street and prepare the next meeting while walking a bit.
Do you know if Garmin has any plans to improve the sleep tracking on the Vivofit? Even polar on their loop made improvements over time …
I’m not aware of anything planned in that department.
Curious how it deals with swapping between daily trackers. For example sometimes wear the FR15, sometimes a vivofit. If they added the Fenix2, etc..
Garmin sits in a good spot to sell multiple devices and consolidate all the data into one view. One calorie burn, one step count, etc.. Wear my 910XT for a brick, my vivofit to the office, FR15 or Fenix2 on business trips. All the info, in one place, no duplicates.
The plan is a single consolidated view. They’re slowly chipping away at getting there, but not quite there yet.
In the current state, how is it dealing with you having both the vivofit and the FR15?
It’s an either/or thing. When you connect it to your account it makes you choose one or the other (just like the FitBit does).
I think I will pick one of these up. I am a casual runner (15-20 miles a week) and don’t need the higher end features. Haven’t bought an activity tracker yet because it doesn’t work for running. Now I can get one that does. I like the look of the blue one.
Who in their right mind would wear this watch as a daily activity tracker?? It’s butt ugly, just like most other new Garmin devices. Garmin is in dire need of a new designer that doesn’t have a fetish for plastic and ugly colours.
Are we allowed to shutdown the watch to prevent it from false data. Example when I use the Fitbit Flex, and riding a motorcycle, the steps clocked will be unusually high. There’s no way to sleep or off the device. I hope the FR15 has the ability to do that…
Yes you can power it off.
Ray – this sort of reminds me of the 210 in terms of features, etc with the added plus of some vivofit function. Is that accurate?
Sorta. The FR10 was always a bit of a funny duck in that it actually upstaged the FR210 in a lot of areas when it came out – despite the FR210 being $100 more. That’s even more so the case now, where the FR210’s only major remaining selling point is really the interval mode and displaying three metrics at a time over 2. But personally, I’d take a FR15 over a FR210 any day.
I’ve had my trusty FR 50 with HRM and foot pod since 2008 and use steps to calculate stride frequency (internal watch calculation is not very accurate) and stride length. (I’ve lost foot pod three times and recovered each time because the watch tells me exactly where I lost it. The plastic holder fatigues and loosens; now I tape it in.) I’m wondering if number of steps (with foot pod) is logged independently in FR 15 when outside in GPS mode, or only when one “goes into a tunnel” or some such. I’d hate to lose this data if I made the switch to a GPS watch with foot pod capability.
Any idea how the Forerunner 15 communicates with phones if it is not via Bluetooth? Anyone ever tried using Garmin Connect with Ubuntu?
FR15 > USB > Computer with Garmin Express > Uploads to Garmin Connect > Opens Garmin Connect Mobile app on phone to view data.
Check out the Garmin forums for various Linux success on uploaders. The issue there isn’t so much ANT+ support this time, but pass-through of data from Garmin Express in a VM to the unit.
I use link to andreas-diesner.de on Archlinux and it works well for data uploads. There are instructions for Ubuntu installation as well. I haven’t had success with firmware updates directly via Linux as that is handled with other software.
If the FR15 communicates with ANT+ sensors couldn’t it (can’t it) also communicate with a USB ANT+ doggle (like the one for the VF or Garmin Swim)? I know ANT is a really annoying/inefficient way to transfer data, but wouldn’t such a setup allow it to communicate wireless with GC?
Yes, but Garmin desperately wants to get away from ANT+ transfers since it’s a support nightmare (as you noted). Hence why the FR220/FR620 and Fenix2 don’t support it. Or really anything made in the last 2.5 years.
I get that totally.
And as an owner of the Swim and VF (and ex owner of the 610) I understand that.
But…annoying wireless upload is, to me, much better than having to plug it in. Especially for the daily step tracker component. Would be nice if it would just speak to the computer when close instead of having to take it off to upload (and then forgetting it on the desk as you walk away etc).
That said, this is probably going to replace my wife’s returned FitBit (skin issue) and timex…
That’s funny, given ANT is the only way I can reliably export my vivofit info.
Do you think Garmin will drop the price of the Forerunner 10 now that this new model is coming out? Or does Garmin never do that with their products? (Sorry for the newbie question! I’m looking to buy a GPS watch and I was going to get the 10, but the added battery life on the 15 is appealing.)
They tend to do that, but I’m not sure if that’s in the cards honestly. They could drop it to $99 and basically blow away any of the $80-99 trackers easily. But, they also probably know that they’re likely to pickup many folks anyway at $129.
Hard to say.
Hi there, Does this unit show instant speed or a smoothed average? alot of my interval workouts are pace based rather than speed or distance, say 5 minutes at 10 minute miles then two minutes at 8 ect. Looking forwards to your full review.
It can show one of current or lap or average pace – same as an FR10.
Any idea if Garmin will be adding bluetooth support in the future or why they don’t already have it in their products?
They have it today in the Edge 510, Edge 810, Edge 1000, FR220, FR620, Fenix, Fenix2, Tactix, and Vivofit (for fitnes focused units).
And what kind of version of Bluetooth is that. I asked support and never got a good answer.
Edge 510/810: Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (enhanced data rate)
Edge 1000: BT4.0
I hope that Garmin takes some of the money that they make off of this great device, and hires a product designer. Someone that can design the watch, such that it doesn’t look like a relic of the 1970’s.
Laugh, I know what you mean was my first thought. In my view the 2 things Garmin has always struggled with is industrial design & user interface.
Hey, Ray. I think you meant the 210, not 220, when you said “Garmin FR110 > FR220”.
Oops, thanks. Fixed!
I really like you reviews and am waiting to see you full review.
I agree with you on the lack of Bluetooth and am wondering why they did not add the ANT+ transfer, like the Vivofit. That would make it a bit more attractive.
I am also a bit disappointed that they use rechargeable batteries. I guess if you have to plug in to transfer data, you can leave it to charge. The fact the Vivofit uses coin cell batteries is what motivated me to buy it.
I am going to wait a bit and see if they bring out a Bluetooth enabled variant.
Thanks for the product announcement! When you get to the point of doing a detailed review, it would be great from a curiosity perspective to know what GPS chipset the FR15 uses.
After commenting several times that I would be very interested in a GPS fitness watch that doubled as an activity tracker, I now have to say that I would not buy this. An activity tracker that has to be removed to charge and dump will not be worn during those sessions and, if it were mine at least, someone would forget to put it back on.
I’m really pretty happy with wearing my Vivofit 24/7 and pairing up with a fitness device like an Edge or Forerunner when I go outside to play. When GC Modern irons out the integration part—and I am pretty convinced of late that they will—this is going to be a perfect combination. Until something much better comes along, I’m committed to staying in the Garmin ecosphere of activity tracking and fitness products.
Agree, but I don’t believe this watch is designed for heavy athletes, it is designed for people getting back into exercise who want an activity tracker and a watch.
In no way would I trade my 620 for this watch, but my wife (who returned her Fitbit and is in the market for a new activity tracker) certainly will trade her $30 Timex for the activity tracker / stopwatch combo.
Clearly longer battery life and automatic uploading would be nice, but given that it is clear all sleep trackers are useless it is certainly possible to charge this at night and sync your data.
Ahh just as I finally get my FR220, this comes out! I’m supremely happy with my FR22, (DCRainmaker’s review had a large part in my pre-purchase research) but I wish I had known about this watch coming out! It would have been interesting to compare the two! Thanks for the review, I’ll have to add this watch to my list of watches to watch 😛
Am I the only one that is disappointed that they aren’t connecting to the speed/cadence sensor for biking. It would seem such a simple thing to do and instant speed is much better than with gps and cadence I use all the time (I can usually guess my cadence now anyways but still). Why ignore the bikers, I don’t get it. This is not a serious runners watch (no intervals, training plans, running dynamics), why not sell to bikers who just need speed cadence as well. That being said, the combo of this watch with the Wahoo Tickr X, may be able to give you an amazing amount of data (maybe even pick up the biking cadence) for almost any sport, at a very reasonable price point – 170 + 100 – 10% dcr clever train discount = ~$240. Assuming Clever Training sells the Tickr X.
Will the FR 15 be able to tell the user what zone they are in (obviously if they are using a HR strap)?
Yes I work for Garmin, but only in IT – we never find out ahead of time about these things! 🙂
look at this video 🙂
link to youtube.com
Does the FR15 display allow the same pace selection options as the FR10? I read that initially the FR10 only displayed the current pace, but an update allowed the lap pace or average pace to be shown. Are all 3 of these paces available as options for the display in the FR15?
Yes, same options as the FR10 as far as having those additional fields that were added to a FR10 in a later firmware update.
I was looking at this for my fiance(ex Fitbit force owner) and I really like the step counting with the added functionality gps would give her in a small watch. I was looking at ordering from clever trainer and it was saying I could not use your coupon code for that product. Any idea why that would be?
Yup, you can still order from Clever Training. We’re in the process of moving to a VIP program, which still allows you to save a bundle. Here’s the details: link to dcrainmaker.com
It’s in a bit of a soft launch over the last day, so I haven’t quite made a big deal out of it while I work out some technical kinks still on my end.
Thanks for the support!
Thank you for the quick reply! I ordered the TomTom Multi-sport through Clever training due to your recommendation/great in-depth review and I am looking at getting this for her from them as well. For the price VIP from Clever Training really isn’t bad for what it offers.
Thanks for the support via Clever Training – I appreciate it!
Just ordered the black/blue version on Garmin’s website. It is in stock there. Would have preferred Clever Training but need it before next weekend. Looking forward to trying it.
I think that’s an error. Production units haven’t been made yet, and the timeline was sometime in the next 30-45 days.
It says the Black/Blue watch only version is in stock. None of the others are listed the same way. If that is true, I will just cancel and go with Clever Training. That will kind of tick me off. I am pretty excited to try it.
Just sent an email to Garmin Websales. I’ll post what they say. Thanks for the heads up.
As others have pointed out fenix 2 + vivofit is the all rounder we are searching for. If the hardware on the Fenix 2 is not up to vivofit functionality. How long will we need to wait for Fenix 3 and will the Forerunner series be upgraded first, say a Forerunner 630 with daily tracking?
Ray how many days of data (activity tracker) can you store on the watch?
Manual says last 7 runs. Can’t see obvious reference to activity tracker history capacity but logical to assume last 7 days as well I guess.
I am looking forward to your full review Ray. I know it will be up to your usual standards.
While I am excited about this watch, I think I may wait until September or so to see how things shake out. I have been an early adopter (I ordered a Vivofit before they were available) but this feels like a “Lets wait and see” device.
Readers and Ray, of course, I’m interested in what you’d/you’ll get:
Tom Tom Multisport or this Garmin FR15?
The built in heart rate monitor and intervals of the Tom Tom are appealing, but the price and Garmin of the FR15 are also attractive.
Thanks for your insights!
I’d like to add the bluetooth transfer as another plus for the Tom Tom.
Seems a bit of a pity that garmin are so all over the place with different teams working on different things and each new unit having some features and not others.
So now the fr15 has activity tracking and ant support but no Bluetooth. The very recent fr220 I already have has Bluetooth but no activity possible due to a hardware design mistake and my fenix 2 has swim mode I need and Bluetooth, but apparently no activity tracking possible and if you leave Bluetooth phone notifications on the battery runs out in less than a day.
So they basically have no device that is actually a must buy, they are all missing key features, meaning people will always be waiting for a unit that is actually fully featured.
Could be a good business plan I guess!
So the 220 and 620 are obsoleted nearly as soon as they launch, seems like very poor (or total lack of product planning) from Garmin.
For runners you can’t really compare an FR15 with an 220/620. FR15 is still a very basic watch but if an activity tracker and GPS watch is of interest this seems a great way of achieving both aims with one device.
Thanks for the reviews. Does either unit record swimming activity accurately?
No swim functionality am afraid – it’s a runner’s watch. Would need a 910 or a Garmin Swim for that.
They say in IT in which I work – if all else fails, read the manual.
Well link to support.garmin.com seems to be the ones for the FR15 so may well answer many of the questions asked here.
Should have listened to Ray, should have bought the top rated Garmin 220. Instead bought the Suunto Ambit 2R. Although I really like the unit, I started having issues with the pins on the connector, only two months old. Contacted Suunto, and sent pictures. They agreed to replace under warranty. The catch… It will be four weeks before the replacement arrives. Of course, today the connector stopped working altogether. Jiggling makes no difference. Any tips or suggestions for temporary fix?
As an FYI, REI finally has the watches available for pre-order, and said they should be getting a big shipment in towards the end of May.
QUICK SATELLITE RECEPTION – TBD (Still old GPS chipset and no quick preload?).
TBD: To Be Determined (he hasn’t tested it enough yet to answer)
Considering he rated the FR10 (with no preloading) as Great, I doubt the FR15 will be any worse and may even be better if it preloads satellite data.
I doubt you have anything to worry about.
Do you know if garmin is having any plans to release a cycling product like this watch? What I mean by this is a product between the edge 200 and edge 510 that has gps and heart rate.
Past history shows that Ray’s preview reviews like this one is the first time we get to hear about upcoming products.
Correct. I don’t generally post about unannounced products.
In general, cycling products are typically released at Eurobike (last week of August), or at Interbike (two weeks later in September). The Edge 1000 was sort of an oddity in that world, but actually shows the changing dynamics where Sea Otter is becoming more popular with North American companies looking to launch for the upcoming spring season (which, honestly makes a heck of a lot more sense than for the off-season.
I’m increasingly frustrated and confused by Garmin’s product spec logic at the moment. I’m currently using an FR70, a replacement for an FR60 with the much-discussed strap issues (I actually went through FR60s), mainly as a cycling product. Today the FR70 strap has gone (after about 2 years rather than the standard 15 months or so I was getting from FR60s).
So I look at the product range to see what might fit the bill as a more up to date replacement, with GPS, etc, and it seems that everything Garmin do in the £100-200 range is basically useless for cycling. The 610 might be an exception but is currently being superseded by the much more expensive 620 (which currently doesn’t support cycling), and the FR15, 220, etc, all seem like backwards steps for cycling. The 910xt is just too big to were as a day-to-day watch, and like the Fenix, expensive.
Anyway, long rant but I guess it makes me question what Garmin’s commitment is to watch based cycling devices. Do you have any word on that, Ray?
Multisport devices – FR310, FR910 or Fenix 2
And all Forerunners will “work” on the bike – even ones without specific bike modes like the 620 and indeed this FR15.
“Work” is limited in cycling terms without the cadence sensor support, IMO. And the devices you mention are all not really wearable day-to-day and/ or way past the £100-200 range.
TBH I’ve not seen a great deal of interest in a cycle specific watch. In my experience, serious cyclists tend to go the Edge route and there are obviously the multi-sport devices for “watches”. The times I have worn a watch on my wrist for cycling it seems to have been more of a recording device as can be quite difficult/dangerous to look at it at speed – unless, of course, you mount on handlebars. Also it would not make a lot of commercial sense for Garmin to put things like cadence sensor support in a lower-end running device like a FR15 and may well not be technically possible as cheaper devices tend to have less memory etc etc
TomTom Multisport; right now the cheapest multisport watch out there with menu offerings suitable for most casual athletes. Right now I am also looking to change from Fr60 to TomTom or keep waiting for the miraculous software update of the fr620
I’ve been using my TomTom Multisport for this exact purpose. I’m a long time Garmin user, and all of my data lives on GC. On the bike I use the TomTom and then upload the info onto GC afterwards. I plan to buy the 15 when it becomes available (and ditch my 210) and keep using the TomTom on the bike and in the pool.
Rei.com is shipping the FR15 – Mine was shipped and is scheduled for delivery on 5/29.
Just as a general FYI, Clever Training received their first batch of FR15’s today, which in turn went back out to folks today. A bunch more are coming in over the next few days.
* – “two FR60s”
** – “wear”
The shame 🙁
I don’t know. I have an FR10 and would like to upgrade to get the heart rate feature (Purchased the Mio Link). I don’t wear the FR10 for anything other than my runs and wouldn’t wear it to the office because it is not a daily wear watch. Period. So I’d never fully utilize the activity tracking functions in the FR15 and just forget about plugging it into my computer every day…its just not happening.
If they priced it to replace the FR10 then I would consider it but they didn’t. It is no longer an entry-level watch at $169. If your gonna spend that amount, it is not a stretch to get a FR220 and get more features and a big smile. I think they priced it wrong as people looking for an activity tracking functions would opt for the Vivofit. Somehow I just don’t think the activity tracking market is for athletes but that is just my gut feeling.
Could I buy a Vivofit and upload my runs from the FR10, HR from the Vivo and also get BT Smart no plug-in activity tracking? Why yes, I think so. So I could update my current rig for $129 and look like Ray on an average run day.
Curious if people think something like an FR15 is not a “daily wear watch” then how would be a Vivofit (or similar) be any different?. I guess it depends on the nature of your job and the environment but these days nobody comments when I turn up at the office with a combination of 620, 910, MotoACTV and on both wrists! And the 10/15 is essentially smaller. Mind you it has been years in my job (IT) when it was required/expected to turn up “suited and booted”. Even then I am sure I would see have worn my then sports watch (probably a Polar – albeit in black/red).
I too work in a tech job and I don’t wear a watch: got a computer screen and phone for keeping time and I just don’t like having a watch on when I’m keyboarding. But if I did wear a watch all day, It wouldn’t be a plastic running watch. So I probably wouldn’t wear a Vivo Fit all day either.
As a runner, do I really need some device reminding me to move during the day or track my steps. That’s why I think the Vivo features aren’t appealing in a running watch that will end up sitting on my dresser until my next run.
TBH I wear my Garmins to work so I don’t forget them for a later run and usually take them off to charge during the day. I like to think of myself as a serious runner and I don’t really get the tracker thing either. I play a bit of golf and other day did 36 holes and so clocked up a huge number of steps (on a MotoActv) but still felt the need to go out for a run after!
I feel the same way and have not worn a watch in 25+ years, but as a techie I knew I needed the steps … got the vivofit (dealt with the OMG there is something on my wrist issue for the first few weeks, now it’s mostly okay)
I discovered there are days when I am coding or working on a website/graphics I can have <2000 steps at 6pm! The vivofit does get me moving (a vibration alert would be great, just sayin' garmin).
The vivofit encouraged me to start exercising (only way to get those steps in when I sit so much (though I'm having some issues with it, as I can do a 6 mile speed walk and only get a few thousand steps) …
I think this is a 'step-up' from the vivofit as many of us wanted 'more' because it got us exercising. For me the issue is that I walk 5-6 miles on day and would like to ride the next (apparently that is an issue for most running watches … what I'm the only one who heard take a day off and took that to mean 'do a different activity'?)
The vivofit's do work… I am moving more and my heart is doing SO much better (no longer hits 160 walking across the room (okay, so skipping the daily decongestants may have helped) but trust me the extra steps and exercising helped a ton.
I may not be Ray, (thinking that cold water would kill me – asthma + cold water = non-functoning lungs) but for me to walk 6 miles at 4+ mph (something I thought no one could possibly do) and ride for a few miles (without certain death)
and more importantly I got the lump of a hubby moving with his vivofit (trust me 'togetherness' on this works) – he even turned off the TV this weekend to go on a hike (a bit more of a hike difficulty wise then I planned, trail maps are not my thing apparently) a first in his LIFE!
I even got my dad to go for some walks (pre-skin cancer removal surgery .. now he's on no walk by dr's order … remember sunscreen and reapply often!) … so yes the vivofit works… it gets people moving …
the 15 it is not geared toward true already running runners, for them I'd say get a running watch you like, and add the vivofit – realizing that either you wear both when you run or live with less steps a day on your chart and look for activity levels only
— I just can't not make my chart green .. the blue drives me nuts so I have to hit the steps suggested — yea, yea, yea, I'm a lemming .. I would jump into the sea… got it.
… now the question is what is next a 15 or something more…
I preordered the watch through amazon. The 220 is significantly more expense and much larger. I don’t have a smartphone and have no need to connect my watch through bluetooth. Unlike others I do see this as an everyday watch, and battery life attest to that for me. I also don’t like the idea of having two devices on my wrist(s). This watch fits my needs well.
I think there is real merit in activity tracking alongside full training functionality. I have a 910xt which is great for triathlons, but doesn’t offer watch functionality. I have a swim because it is lighter in the pool and I have a vivofit which I currently wear on the other arm to my daily watch. Combining all of these into one makes sense to me. If they go down this path hopefully they can add some design into it and not make it too utilitarian.
The daily activity tracking features are for me helpful alongside my full training programme as it tells me what I am up to the whole day. For example I was slow on a training run but then realised that I had had a very active morning.
This raises the other gap which is keeping track of fuel intake as well. This would really help evaluate what levels of activity and fuels combine well.
Ray, I’ve been a big fan of the simplicity of the FR10. That being said I also love my 620 although I find it slightly less comfortable than the 10 due to the type of band. I called garmin and the person I spoke with said the HRM that came with the 620 is not compatible with the upcoming 15. Any idea why this is?
They’re confused (normal)…and incorrect.
They were probably misunderstanding the question in thinking that the HRM-RUN Running Dynamics pieces won’t show up on the FR15 (which, is true). But the HRM-RUN transmits in the open a standard ANT+ HR profile as well, that’s compatible with any ANT+ HR capable device on the planet (including the FR15).
For the FR15, the chart shows “N/A” for “HAS TIME ALARMS”, but that’s the chart that doesn’t include the FR10, only the vivofit and Polar.
The FR10 does have the option to set an alarm (only one, but you can set an alarm on the device itself). Has this been dropped on the FR15?
Maybe I’m confused about what the “HAS TIME ALARMS” line means….
link to static.garmincdn.com
suggests you can indeed set a “daily alarm”.
If the FR 15 has the alarm, I’ll be returning the FR10 (it’s only two weeks old..) and getting a FR15. The FR10 was an upgrade to using a GPS tracker on my phone, But I also wear a Withing Pulse for “the other 23 hours a day”. There are a number of non-athletes that want to get a handle on their activity (eg, the 10k steps per day) to get to the point where they can fell athletic….. The FR15 might be a nice integrated device for folks like me….
Thanks guys – good catch – tweaked!
Ray, one other question regarding online reviews of the FR10. Specifically I’ve seen many complaints regarding the integrity of the band. Personally I’ve had no issues with my unit, but now that a 15 is approaching the $200 price point I’m a bit more wary about the band issue. Any correspondence you’ve had with garmin regarding this issue and if they have a addressed it on the upcoming FR15?
I’m reasonably certain it’s the same band. I’ll have both old and new units side by side later this week to compare (previously I’ve only had the new on-hand at once so hard to see minor differences).
I would point out though that I think the FR10 may well be the highest selling Garmin watch ever (in terms of quantity), so it’s possible that even a 1% normal electronics device failure rate would be noticeable there. And since there’s really nothing else anyone complains about on the FR10, it may be something to consider.
Ehhh why Garmin does not support ANT+ Weight Scale anymore 🙁
Ok so now i know that you can change type of activity after upload from FR15 to modernGC. Newly created account on GC appears in old fashion, but adding FR15 changes it to modern look.
Can the FR 15 work just as a heart rate monitor? For example if i do a workout dvd at home and i just want to know my heart rate and calories burned
Yes, you can (with a HR strap).
will that work for swimming as well?
No, ANT+ doesn’t transmit in the water unfortunately (more than about 1-2″).
Curious as to whether or not the activity tracker will also work while the unit is in GPS mode. If I go on a 3 mile run, will those 3 miles be incorporated into my steps for the day?
Garmin Connect needs to step up it’s connection game before I consider alternatives. None of my friends use Garmin Connect… so no “competing” with others. Aside from training loggins, I use the FitBit Aria scales and MyFitnessPal.
Will the FR15 fully import to other services?
I suspect at some point in the future you’ll see direct integration between MyFitnessPal and Garmin, which would cover the FR15’s GPS and activity tracking functions. As to when…it could be tomorrow, next month, or later on. No doubt it’s coming, just a case of when said integration is complete.
Ray, your opinion please on whether or not to order the bundled version or to order the watch by itself and upgrade to the premium soft strap or HRM-RUN strap? A bit concerned over potential spikes/dropouts with the older version of the strap.
No reason to get HRM-RUN strap, since the FR15 won’t use the Running Dynamics pieces. And the HRM3 strap is the same exact as HRM-RUN (including firmware), just lacks the Running Dynamics pieces for the Fenix2/FR620.
The FR15 comes with the ‘classic’ strap – which is the older plastic one that most folks actually don’t tend to get drops/spikes with.
First of all – thanks a lot for a wonderful site and excellent in depth reviews Ray. Please keep up the goodwork
I have a very basic question – I am just starting off from years of inactivity, planning on the couch to half marathon prog – aim is to complete a half marathon within 6 months.
For a complete newbie – would you recommend the FR15 or the FR220? Obviously I will be happy to save some $$$ if the upgrade is not warranted.
But more than the cost, the single biggest decision making criteria for me is the weather in my town and the need for me to run on a treadmill at least twice a week when it is raining outside.
What would you recommend for treadmill running? FR15 or FR220?
Thanks in advance
Can the FR15 and FR10 do intervals? My husband took over my 210 for training. Looking for a new watch. I’m recreational runner, do races from 5k-marathon, like the simplicity of the 10/15 and not sure about HRM training but like having that option. I’m interested in interval training for speed workouts/fartleks. Are either FR15/FR10 capable of that?
No, no interval mode. Though, you can certainly just use the lap button and manually create the laps for intervals.
They both have a run/walk interval mode. Though its fairly basic, you can only set the time for each run or walk section, then they are repeated.
Hey Ray, Would you say the “female” version of this watch is smaller than the FR60. Sad to say the best color is the Green and Black one. I ordered the Black and blue but it’s not a pleasing to the eye. Could you tell me your thoughts? Thanks
I’ll be able to put them all up on a rolling pin shortly. But, since they’re exactly the same size as the FR10, and since the FR70 is the same as the FR60, this photo should help: link to dcrainmaker.com
Have there been any real sightings of the FR15 yet? Seems the pre-order ship date from amazon and others is the end of May, but with the vivofit, they showed up in stores a couple weeks before the pre-order ship date…
Given that the FR10 has now been discounted by several retailers on account of the FR15 coming out, would you say the FR15 is worth the extra cost? You’re looking at £75 v £140 (sorry, British!). Thanks
Interesting, I wasn’t aware of them discounting the FR10 these days, cool. Where are you seeing it cheaper?
Oh, to answer your question though – it really just comes down to how much you value the heart rate/footpod (treadmill) pieces and the activity tracker piece (daily 24×7 activity tracker). If you don’t plan to use either, then definitely just go FR10.
Thanks, that’s really helpful! Specifically, amazon have the FR10 reduced at the moment. I’m not sure the extra on the FR15 is worth it to me so I’ll probably stick with the 10. Thanks for the great reviews!
A little comment to thank you for this amazing website. It has become my favourite as I am looking for a new watch. Your in-depths reviews are fantastic, there is no better.
Keep up the good work. 🙂
Hey Ray – firstly thanks for all the write-ups you do – always insightful, interesting and useful!
I’ve had a F10 for 6 months now and have been really happy with all it does expect for not having the ability to auto-scroll through the data fields I have chosen when running.
I notice it seems to have the capability (as it will scroll through the data if you are in pause mode) and wondered Garmin might look to include this in the F15 and/or a firmware update for the F10?
No, unfortunately no Auto Scroll within the FR15 either (just checked). While anything is possible, I don’t see it as likely that it’ll be added honestly.
two questions one to the community one to ray…
Ray: how large are the bands on the small? i take a vivofit large (almost at smallest) and small (almost at largest settings) REI has the 15 but only the smalls (I want a pretty color – girl problems)
Others: I bought my vivofit at REI when I bought it I joined the club as I was informed so I could “return it when I realized it didn’t track biking and swimming” – at the time I didn’t support biking and swimming, in fact I barely supported getting off the couch.
Now I’m thinking about the 15 (ray suggested) but keep playing with the 910xt on sale for $250 as that adds biking – though the biking app on the phone is okay but can’t support both HRM and cadence via bluetooth obviously)
I JUST returned the MIO to REI, should I take them up on their 1 year thing and go for the 15? or keep the vivofit (and use my phone for speedwalks/biking), or keep the vivofit and add the 910 for speedwalks/biking)
… i like exercising (and as I’ve pushed through multiple injuries since Feb 28 and kept at it, it has to get easier from here … darn, Newton and his a body at rest likes to stay at rest — luckily inertia beats negative energy).
The bands on the FR15 are identical to the FR10 (in every way from texture to size).
Personally, in your shoes I’d return the Vivofit thing if it’s within the period for returns and get the FR15 (assuming you don’t care about sleeping). Just my two cents.
Does the FR15 have overall average pace during a run? I have the FR10 and it doesn’t appear to have that function. It will tell you when you are done running what the average pace was but not actually during the run. I would like my next garmin to have this feature. Not sure which models have it, so figured I would ask.
On the FR15, the pace options are:
Avg Pace (Overall Run average)
Avg Speed (Overall Run/Bike/etc Average)
I’m using AVG pace on my FR10. You have to select it from in the menu. Keep in mind this was added with a firmware update so if you’ve never updated the firmware, this is likely why you don’t see it.
Thanks. I never got the update. I add no idea.
If I already have a Polar heartrate strap, and don’t care about the footpod, could I just order the FR15 without the heartrate bundle? In other words, can I use my own strap and order the cheaper watch ($169), or will that one not even read heartrate?
No, unfortunately the Polar HR strap isn’t compatible with Garmin products.
Any hints that they would add indoor running mode to this watch? I ordered this watch from CT for my fiance since she likes the activity monitoring and can use the gps for bike riding/running outside which is nice. I was considering buying her a foot pod to go with it to use on the treadmill, but if an indoor running mode using the pedometer is possible in the future I will hold of.
Yeah, I asked there as well – they said they don’t really have plans for it right now. Kinda odd if you ask me.
Another question would be does the FR15 use the foot pod the same way the fr220 does? “While outdoors the unit will use the cadence from the footpod and GPS for the pace/distance.” Or does it jump straight to the footpod for all running when outside? And actually would it be possible to run on the treadmill with the foot pod and then not use it when running outside? Or after they are paired will it require the foot pod for all future runs?
It does not provide cadence information without a footpod. Here’s an example of a FR15 run (no footpod, but with HR): link to connect.garmin.com
I haven’t tried it yet with a footpod, perhaps on my run tonight.
I am sure she wouldn’t be worried about losing the cadence information when running outside. But if you are able to find out if once you pair the foot pod it would be required for all activities after that would be great. Also for riding a bike if she changed it over to speed using a foot pod wouldn’t make much sense.
Thanks for all the help and the great reviews.
You definitely don’t need the footpod when outside, regardless of if you use it inside (so for example, different shoes). It simply won’t connect to it.
What I’ll test today is to validate that it correctly pulls pace from the GPS except upon loss of satellite. Though, I won’t likely be able to test the tunnel portion, as usually there’s a fair bit of traffic in there on a weeknight (closed to cars on Sunday).
Great review. Just considering to buy one of these. I have a silly question on using it as an activity monitor: how does this 15 count the “steps a day” feature. Do you need the footpod or it’s just ok with the GPS?
One more: would the “female” model (green/black obviously) fit a man’s wrist? I’m 1m 80cm tall but have slim wrists and don’t like big watches.
It actually doesn’t need either (GPS or footpod), it’s done with the internal accelerometer.
As for the women’s model, it will fit some wrists. For example, it fits mine. But maybe I’m just girly.
I’ve been interested for too long in gps watch. Had been thinking Garmin FR220 or a Suunto. Really I want to use for walking and skating. already have Edged 800 for cycling. anythink is probably overkill for me. I didn’t want a pedometer. Not very keen on those. so though a watch would be good to track distance, calories and use HR strap from edge 800. I would like option to wear watch all the time. thought that FR10 might be good or maybe to clunky? The FR15 now sounds good as I am curious about my steps In day. truth be told, I never analyze my stats from my Edge. maybe b/c not wirelessly convenient , but I like seeing my info that day. Could always scroll back I suppose on the device. can I at some point just delete everything off the watch? the other possibility is The Suunto products look great. nice anytime watch, sturdy and the price drops you have indicated are enticing too. ambit 2Ris $186.50 on Amazon. no step counter though or Vivo like info. do you think my best bet is the FR220 FR15, Suunto or something entirely different. Tech stuff changing so quickly that if I get say FR15 the $ not spent could eventually go towards newer tech, down the road. thank you always. you do an awesome job with this site. We are all blessed that you are well, after Stingray incident. Regards and best to you.
Happy to help.
Yup, you can always just delete files off the watch, though, it does require you do so from the computer (I don’t see a way to individually delete a single run off the FR15).
With the FR 10, you could delete a run on the watch itself up until the sync. I returned my FR10 and pre-ordered the Fr15, so I can’t tell you exactly how it was done!
Thanks for the confirming info to #162 which I authored. Based upon what I wrote, do you think the FR15 is a good fit for me. If you think its a good fit… Is it worth waiting for instead of FR10? As you can see, i had an initial interest in the Fr220 and a Suunto. My needs – really just distance, calories are nice and steps, I’m just curious about. I do not want a pedometer. Also would a hrm strap from Garmin edge 800 be compatible with a Suunto. To reiterate on your fine work, the FR15 is compatible with edge 800 hrm strap, correct? Thanks again.
Yes, the HR strap from the Edge 800 is compatible with the Suunto Ambit units as well as all the Garmin units.
I think timeline wise you’ll see the FR15 available likely in the next week or two. Given you already have a Garmin device, I would stay in the same ecosystem simply from a log standpoint (though, it doesn’t sound like you upload it anyway).
Since you’re looking for steps, the FR15 is the best bet, as neither the FR220 nor the Ambit do that.
I am 100% content with the FR10 functionality and would not use HRM or Footpod. Do you think it is wise to keep the FR10 I bought last weekend as opposed to waiting for the FR 15?
My concern is the FR10 may no longer receive updates and may become obsolete since it’s already almost 2 years old. Does Garmin continue to support earlier models of watches once new versions are available or do they invest all updates/fixes to the latest version?
My FR10 is still in the box because I am torn on what to do. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank in advance for your time!
The FR10 only really ever got one meaningful update, which was to add a single data page type – that’s it. The other was to fix a daylight savings issue. Said differently, don’t expect the FR10 to receive any further updates because it falls in the mold of “this is what the product is”.
To that end, I suspect the FR15 will be the same. Outside of perhaps a few initial early teething type updates, I wouldn’t expect any expansion of features.
Garmin does still support all these devices from a support center standpoint. So if you buy the FR10 you’re still supported. And the FR15 isn’t a replacement for the FR10 either, it’s a ‘new’ product category. The ~$100 GPS category has made Garmin an immense amount of money, and they aren’t just going to leave that.
Thank you very much!
I currently use Runkeeper with my iPhone and Pebble watch. Unfortunately, these devices combined can’t tell me my current pace, which is something I’m striving to get better at regulating.
Does the above watch work with Runkeeper? I’m an elite member (paid a fee) and have got used to the layout etc so don’t really want to swap apps. Also, as current pace is all I’m really interested in, are there any better alternatives? Sorry if this is covered elsewhere but there is so much info, I wasn’t sure where to look.
P.S These product reviews are brilliant!
I automatically sync my Garmin data into RunKeeper today with these solutions: link to dcrainmaker.com
The FR15 fitness data shows up there (not the 24×7 data though).
Thanks for taking the time to reply. Is there a model similar to this one but that connects to mobile for uploads? Runkeeper is pretty convenient at the mo as I can see all my stats straight after I finish.
Not with the FR15, since it doesn’t have any Bluetooth chipset. The FR220 would work there though (since it does Bluetooth).
Just a quick FYI – Garmin has shot over a quick note that they will be adding Sleep Metrics equivalent to what the Vivofit has to the FR15 at some point later this summer, via a firmware update. Once they get an exact date they’ll send it over.
Ray – any idea of schedule for souped up 220/620 with fitness tracking?
I wouldn’t expect to see it anytime soon.
While are the dimensions of the band? I’m looking for something like a RoadId that I can slip on the FR15 band, and was wondering if anyone knew if something like the metal ID from the RoadID Elite would fit on the band. I did order a 1RoadID, and tired it a few days on a vivofit, but it’s actually too bulky for my taste. It’s like having a second vivofit on the same band – the velcro to hold it on makes it much thicker than the metal ID itself… Any ideas would be appreciated!
The FR15 band is 19.5mm wide and 2mm thick.
Thanks for the info.. Now I just need to find the size of the RoadID Elite Band, – I thought it would be on their website, but no luck in finding it!
So when will Garmin add activity tracking to the high end GPS watch product like the Fenix 2? It’s a bit nutty to need and wear two devices when hiking to get total day activity as well as sport specific tracking!
In the same vein, I noticed that Garmin uses very different algorithms for calorie computation between the vivofit and Fenix. Simultaneously monitoring my runs with both vivofit and Fenix I see up to 50% calorie difference (vivofit always high) with both devices getting same heart rate from an hrm run paired by ant+ to both units. I wonder how they can resolve this algorithm disconnect to add activity tracking without discrediting the calorie counts of one vs the other. Additionally which one is right? A 50% difference is huge!
BTW, Love your site!
Unfortunately the Fenix2 isn’t designed for a low-power accelerometer mode that would enable it (and same goes for the FR220/FR620.
As for the Vivofit and Fenix2, that’s correct. They use different HR algorithms (yes, I know, I agree, it’s stupid). The Vivofit uses a paired down version, whereas the Fenix2 uses the full Firstbeat algorithm. In short, the Fenix2 is likely the correct one.
Thanks for the input. The calorie thing really bugs me. The variance between devices is HUGE! When I expand the sample to include an iphone running Wahoo fitness, the same run will range from 600 on Fenix 2, 1000 on Vivofit and 1300 on Wahoo fitness (all devices paired to the same strap)! This makes me want to write to the government and ask them to regulate calorie claims as the spread is large enough to seriously impact nutrition for an event or lifestyle regulation. What is your view on this HUGE spread? Any way your reviews can judge the accuracy of devices? Can we get manufacturers to address this? Calories are calories, just like grams are grams. If we don’t have the technology to measure Calories within 50% it’s not Calories.
Unfortunately, calorie burn metrics are actually not that simple. It varies a lot between people – and even the smartest people in the world disagree on the best way of measuring that when it comes to human activity. There are a handful of companies whose entire purpose in life is deciding on calorie burn based on heart rate (and much of the industry uses their technology), but even they don’t agree. And heck, they’re all located within a few dozen miles of each other in Helsinki, Finland.
That said, what Garmin is doing here is basically a money saving thing. Instead of using FirstBeat’s algorithm (the company they license from), they’re using a so-so internal one they’ve developed.
Hi Ray, between this and the FR70, what would be the mainly difference (obviously besides the gps)? Is it really that needed the gps, or it`ll work just fine with the fotpod? I run in a track and do couple of runs on the street, what could give me the gps to improve me training?
Thanks so much for your dedication to this site. It has been invaluable to me and my girlfriend as we get back into running.
I am looking to purchase the FR15. My question is, what’s the difference between the large and the small? I have smaller wrists and want to make sure I am not giving up too much to go with the smaller device.
Hi Jeff. The only difference is the physical device size and band. That’s all.
You can see the differences in my FR10 review (exact same outer shell/band in the FR10 as the FR15): link to dcrainmaker.com
Thanks for the reply! Yah I pre-ordered the small Black/Green. Just wanted to be able to wear it as an activity tracker all the time and at work.
The wait through Clever Trainer is killing me! Garmin seems to be a bit of a mess when it comes to product releases.
So Ray, does the Fr15 use Firstbeat Tech or Garmin’s generic standard for HRM?
I’ve actually asked for clarification on exactly that point. Reminds me that I haven’t heard back yet…
My wife’s FR15 (ordered from REI) arrived last night. I played with it a fair amount, very prelim thoughts are below.
1) It is nice looking.
2) The interface is much more simplistic than my FR 620, but works for its market. Was easy to set up the step based metrics on it, and was basically easy to pair an old footpod (which I stopped using when I upgraded to the 620) to it for a quick run.
3) She found it very easy to use for a super quick run I made her do, and it picked up a satellite signal pretty quickly.
It uses satellite to set the day / time (which make sense). However, when you first set it up if you don’t have signal it defaults to Jan 1 at 12:01 AM. You’re supposed to be able to manually set the time, but even though I did that three times it never updated the actual time. Another example of Garmin not having their details together.
GC doesn’t totally understand it. It syncs very easily when you plug it into its charger, but on GC it’ll tell you to sync by keeping it close to the ANT+ doggle in your computer. Which it doesn’t recognize. And can’t use. Another example of Garmin not having their details together.
Overall I think it is a good watch for the infrequent runner who wants a running watch / step tracker in one and might be interested in a GPS device. Clearly not a substitute for the 220, but that watch didn’t suit her needs (and she wanted an activity tracker anyway). I’ll circle back to update this later tonight after I hear how her day at work was with the real step tracking, and this weekend I’m planning on giving her my VF to wear all day so we can count the step differences from one device to another.
Great to hear its in stock in the USA. Here’s hoping it shows up in Canadian stores before Sunday. Hoping to buy this for a friends birthday on Sunday. We were going to buy the forerunner 10 but with the 15 coming out it just made sense to wait.
I wouldn’t say infrequent runner. I run regularly and am a marathon runner and find the 10 to be perfect – why spend more money when this does all that I need!
Re. the footpod – is it possible to force the unit to use the footpod to deliver the pace data when running outside (i.e. GPS just for route info, real-time pace info from the footpod)? Personally, I find a calibrated footpod as accurate as GPS (if not more so) and deriving pace from the footpod is more responsive than GPS…?
That reminds me…need to ping them, I’ve been asking about that one myself. Along with a few other footpod related questions.
What would you suggest as a better choice for running purely indoors on a treadmill with a footpod? 220 or 15?
With a footpod it’ll in theory be a wash, once I figure out the calibration piece on the FR15.
First full day with a FR15. As I’ve had a vivofit since they came out and used a Fr10 for a few weeks, no real surprises so far. They only “gotcha” was that I had 5k steps on the vivovit yesterday when I made the FR15 my “activity tracker”, and steps from the Fr15 didn’t get counted yesterday (I think it would after I passed the number of steps from the vivofit, but I switched back to the vivofit for the rest of yesterday). Started with only the FR15 this morning, and so far, so good. I’d used “auto goal” on the vivofit, and the FR15 didn’t inherit the goal I was at on the vivofit, but started me at 7500. Not a big deal, as I’ll be passing that number for a few days, and the auto goal will increase.
I am thinking about this watch for my wife. One question: can we (after upload to GC) change activity type from running to for example cycling or nordic walking. I understand that this watch is designed for running, but it is possible right?
I assume that with this product she wil have New Garmin Connect, and i dont have access to it, so i cant check is this possible.
Hi. Can someone please tell me If you can ” mute” the alerts on the FR15? I work at a hospital and could not have the ” audible ” alerts when I am working with patients.
The Garmin FR15 can be muted by turning “tones” off.
Per the garmin website for this item: “Your step count does not appear until the device acquires satellite signals and sets the time automatically. The device may need a clear view of the sky to acquire satellite signals.” This watch doesn’t take the place of the forerunner 10 and viofit as it appears to only track steps outside. Which is weird – I was hoping to avoid wearing two devices!
The FR15 records steps inside AFTER it has seen the sky for the 1st time.
This is because it doesn’t know the time until it has a 1st GPS signal. You can attempt to set the time yourself but this doesn’t actually accomplish anything.
Yup, during the initial setup it looks for GPS data to set the time (I walked outside at that point!), and then it would start tracking steps, inside or outside, and maintained the time across days. After using the FR15 for about 5 days, it is very much like a combo vivofit and FR10!
When using a footpod outside, with GPS, does the FR15 show and/or record cadence information?
Yes, here’s an example of the FR15 paired to a footpod showing cadence: link to connect.garmin.com
First of all – thanks for the great reviews… so helpful!
I’m having a tough time deciding between the FR15 and the FR220. When it comes to displays, since the FR15 only allows 2 metrics to be displayed at once, are you able to scroll through multiple screens during a run in order to get more information or would you recommend shelling out the extra $ for the FR220 for this?
On the Garmin FR15, Can the steps be reset directly on the watch? Also, I would like to set the step goal to a personal value. So, if i want say 10K steps, can that be set manually on the device, directly? If possible, can you let me know how to accomplish this? Are there any instructional videos that you can recommend utilizing the FR15…..like for dummies type of thing. Hope you and the girl are well. Thanks again for your dedication.
1) Resetting steps on the watch: I don’t see a way to do that.
2) Changing goal: You can do that on Garmin Connect and then transfer to the device
Ray thanks for reply regarding Garmin FR15 and changing step goal. What I’ve encountered so far is the STP indicator doesn’t change as I walk.rather intermittently it just increases in value. The digital numbers do not just roll. Initially. I thought as I walk the display would show the STP changing. Is my Garmin device functioning correctly? Do you know? how the steps are calculated? Is it GPS determined? Just hoping it is accurate and the calories are too. Otherwise it would be of little value. Ultimately I believe I just have to do the work. The mirror and the way I feel will actually tell me what I really need to know.
Take care and thank you.
Steps are determined via accelerometer in the unit (assuming GPS is off).
It kinda ‘jumps’ a bit because it’s basically allowing the unit to validate steps (as in ensure it’s not just washing dishes). Totally normal. Most activitiy trackers have some sort of ‘buffer’.
I just wished it had the option for HR and Pace on a single screen.
Do you know what algorithm the FR15 uses for calorie burn estimation?
Is it First Beat Gen 2(+) or something else?
Assuming (as with the Vivofit) in Garmin Connect users will be able to set VO2 Max, Activity Class, resting heart rate, weight, age, et cetera as inputs for whatever algorithm is being used for calories?
Thanks for your diligence in these reviews. I think the FR15 is VERY interesting because of all of the sensor integration. Wish with GPS off the battery life were better and the batteries were user-replaceable but I know we can’t have it all (right now).
Just got that back last night actually…
It’s the same HR calorie calc as the Vivofit, thus, not FirstBeat, but kinda a weird Garmin-only calorie calc.
Thanks again Ray, I understand.
From the Whitepaper I read I really wish Garmin used First Beat 2nd Gen(+) for calorie calc (not just on some Garmin devices) but then again I don’t know how accurate Garmin’s homebrew is versus First Beat. 🙂
For devices that can receive HRM data I wonder why Garmin doesn’t use one standard for calorie calc across product lines unless the First Beat algorithm is too expensive for sub-$200 devices (or something like that).
Yeah, I could kinda see why on Vivofit – as it does cost them money to license FirstBeat. But I’d think at the $160+ level you’re getting to the point where I can’t imagine they pay more than a couple dollars for the license at the volumes they have.
On the flip side, most FR15/Vivofit owners probably don’t care enough to splice hairs, and Garmin probably knows that.
After a day of use, I found two shortcomings:
Fixed screen with HR/HRzone (you cant have e.g. HR/Time or HR/pace)
You cant have cadence on screen when running (or at all).
Just as a heads up I’ve published my FR15 In-Depth Review today. You can find it here: link to dcrainmaker.com
Since that’s all up, I’m going to close the comments section here simply to keep things tidy, but feel free to wander over to that post and comment there instead.