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The Garmin FR225 with optical heart rate: Everything you ever wanted to know

Garmin-FR225-BackOfUnit

Today Garmin has released their first device with an optical heart rate sensor built into it, the new Forerunner 225.  In the simplest possible terms, the FR225 is basically a FR220 running watch with an optical HR sensor stuffed inside and then the Garmin Vivo lineup of activity tracking functionality (i.e. steps) added to it as well.

In doing so though, Garmin focuses on what is likely the widest possible segment of the market.  The mid-range GPS running watch is incredibly popular, and it also gives Garmin a bit of an easier proving ground than the higher end watches like a Fenix3 or FR920XT, which would expect optical HR across not just running, but other sports as well such as swimming.

Still, being the first of the three majors (Garmin, Suunto, and Polar), it’ll no doubt kick off a bit of an arms race over the next 6-12 months for the three brands to incorporate what is now becoming commonplace in many other devices.  In the meantime, let’s dive into the FR225.

New Features:

Garmin-FR225-HR-MonitorOption

When it comes to new features, Garmin kept things pretty ‘focused’ on the FR225.  The entirety of these new features are three things:

1) Inclusion of an optical heart rate sensor (ok, that’s a really big new thing)
2) Inclusion of activity tracking (steps/goal/etc…)
3) Addition of a heart rate ‘gauge’ page

And there ya have it…the FR225 in three easy steps.

Now, there are some minor other tweaks; for example – they had to change up the back of the unit thus resulting in a change to the charger.  Similarly, it got a bit more plump due to onboarding the optical sensor (see next section).  However, at its core, the FR225 is still the FR220.

Those however that were disappointed with the lack of activity tracking in the FR220 will no doubt be happy to see it included in the FR225.  However, at the same time it’s a bit of a surprise that Garmin skipped smartphone notifications given that Polar has it in the M400 (for $120 less), and Garmin itself has it in the Vivoactive for $50 less.

To give you a bit of a walk-through of the unit I’ve put together this short video.  Note, I’ve got a second video later on in the post where I take it for a short run.

As you can see, the menus and functions are all virtually identical to the FR220 (plus activity tracking).  Whereas the size is where you see some slight changes.

Size & Weight Comparisons:

First, let’s start off with how it compares to the FR220 directly.  Here’s a full front shot, with the FR225 on the left:

Garmin-FR220-FR225-Comparison

Next, the side profile shot:

Garmin-FR220-FR225-SideBySide

If you line it up next to a slew of different optical sensor capable GPS watches though, it’s actually one of the smallest out there (look, I don’t know why the purple GPS-enabled FR15 photo bombed the optical sensor party, it lacks optical HR):

Garmin-FR220-FR15-TomTomCardio-AdidasSmartRun

Next, looking at the weight, the optical sensor (and perhaps any extra battery added to assist with the additional drain), prompted a weight gain of 13g over the FR220, coming in at 54g.

Garmin-FR225-Weight

Garmin-FR220-Weight

For comparison, here’s a few other units per the same scale:

FR220: 41g
FR225: 54g
FR620: 44g
FR920XT: 62g
Fenix2: 86g
Fenix3 Grey: 82g (Sapphire is 175g)
Ambit3: 86g
Polar V800: 81g

Finally, how does it look on one’s wrist?  Well, we’ll start with The Girl, since she’s prettier:

Since I know many will ask, she’s 5’2” tall and has a wrist size of 14cm (or 5.5 inches).

And then, here’s me (6’2” tall) with a wrist size of 17cm (or about 6.5 inches):

Of course, you’ll see my wrists throughout the post and videos, so you’ll likely get bored of them.

The Heart Rate Sensor:

Garmin-FR225-OpticalHR-Sensor

Without question the most important new feature (out of two new features) in the FR225 is the optical heart rate (HR) sensor.  This sensor works by shining an LED light into the blood capillaries at your wrist, which it then reads optically using the infrared sensor.

While inclusion of optical sensors in watches is all the rage these days, the inclusion of accurate optical sensors is much less prevalent.  One can point at a myriad of smart watch options that have garbage HR data from them when it comes to working out.

There are basically two major players in the sport-specific accurate-data realm: Mio and Valencell.  Mio’s sensors come from a partnership with Philips, while Valencell’s are developed in-house.  In addition, Epson also develops a highly accurate sport-specific sensor within their lineup of products. However, that sensor is not in any other 3rd party products at the time.

Whereas with Mio and Valencell they have a host of companies that have been using their sensors for years:

Mio: Mio’s own Link/Fuse/Velo/Alpha units, TomTom’s Cardio Runner/Multisport, and Adidas’s Smart Run GPS & Fit Smart products.
Valencell: Scosche Rhythm+, Jabra Sport Pulse headphones, and the iRiver On.

Now, we can add Garmin to the list as well with the FR225.  Garmin went with the Mio sensor, which is definitely good news (versus developing their own).

Garmin-FR220-Mio-Link

That’s promising since the Mio sensor is a pretty well established ‘known’.  The sensor used in the FR225 is a slightly newer iteration than those found in existing Mio products, with some minor electronic component changes.  You can see below the Mio sensor in other products, such as the Mio Link (grey) and the TomTom Cardio GPS (red)

Garmin-FR225-MioLink-TomTomCardio

If we look at Mio’s history with sensors (both in their own products and 3rd party ones), I’d say that on the optical HR portion it’s relatively accurate.  Where Mio made one stumble with a product was in their Mio Link/Velo units in using an inferior ANT+ transmitter antenna design, which caused dropouts in connectivity for some users over longer distances.  Thankfully, that’s not applicable here.

Now the one caveat to using an optical HR sensor can be that some folks may see issues with weight-lifting related workouts.  Or basically workouts where you tighten the wrist muscles enough that it causes the optical sensor to stumble.  It doesn’t impact everyone, but it’s something to be aware of.  And while tattoos and darker skin can be challenging for some sensors, I haven’t seen too many folks with issues there in Mio’s sensors either (but again, that’ll vary person to person).

Garmin has added one provision to the FR225 in an attempt to minimize issues – which is to supplement the bottom of the watch with a rubber seal of sorts.  This little flexible seal reduces the amount of external light getting under the watch (external light is the arch-enemy of optical HR sensors).  Think of this like a window-shade:

Garmin-FR225-Rubber-Seal

Interestingly, it’s actually removable, which his kinda smart.  In the event this wears over time, replacing it would be trivial.  Looking at the materials, it looks durable enough to me – but it’s hard to say how it’d stand up to daily pounding for 2-3 years. Replacement seals are just $5.

Garmin-FR225-Seal-Removal

Next, Garmin also added a new data page to the unit, which has a graphical heart rate gauge.

Garmin-FR225-HR-ZoneGauge

Garmin-FR225-Graphical-HR-Gauge

This gauge is tied to the heart rate zones that you setup within the watch (you can configure the ranges of five zones).

Garmin-FR225-HR-Zone-Config

The gauge will also tell you your exact HR in BPM as well of course (it’d be silly to not include the exact BPM in a watch these days, yet some companies have tried it rather unsuccessfully).

DCIM\100GOPRO\G0024246.

In addition, you also have the existing HR page showing your exact HR as well as your HR zone:

DCIM\100GOPRO\G0024292.

Finally, you’ll maintain the same FR220 data page options that were previously available.  Which are:

Data Page 1: Three metrics of your choice
Data Page 2: Three metrics of your choice
HR Page: Exact BPM, Current Zone
HR Gauge: Exact BPM, Colorful Zone Gauge (New)
Clock Page: Shows the time and Vivofit related metrics

When it comes to which metrics you can select for the two data pages, your options are:

Metrics to select: Timer, Lap Time, Distance, Lap Distance, Pace, Average Pace, Lap Pace, Speed, Cadence, Calories, Heart Rate, Average Heart Rate, HR Zone, Elevation

These metrics all display just like on any other Garmin GPS watch:

DCIM\100GOPRO\G0024267.

Note that there are no additional sports to configure – only the single running mode.  Like the previous FR220, you do get functions such as Auto Lap, Auto Pause, and Auto Scroll, as well as Run/Walk Mode and various alerts that you can configure.  Best I can tell, no features were removed from the FR220 – only added (and really only related to the HR piece and activity tracking).

Activity Tracking:

Garmin-FR225-Activity-Tracking

Moving along to new feature #2, Garmin has added activity tracking to the FR225.  Activity tracking on the FR225 includes the ability to track your steps throughout the day, and in doing so your progress towards a goal. Additionally, it’ll track your distance walked and calories.

You can see this data below the time on the face of the watch.  By pressing the up/down buttons you can iterate through the different metrics (steps, calories, distance, steps to goal):

Additionally, you can also check your resting heart rate via the optical sensor at any time by pressing the up/down buttons on the front, which activates the optical sensor and displays it below the time of day:

Garmin-FR225-RestingHR

A couple seconds later, it’ll show your current heart rate:

Garmin-FR225-Resting-HR-Value

When it comes to your progress towards the goal for the day, that’s displayed around the inside of the unit, you can see below it’s all green, indicating that I’ve completed my goal:

Garmin-FR225-GoalComplete

Next, like other Garmin activity trackers it has the inactivity bar, which will increase the longer you sit around watching YouTube videos.  Eventually it’ll beep/buzz at you to stop watching the 12th consecutive showing of cat fan.

Garmin-FR225-Activity-Calories

All of this data is uploaded wirelessly via your smart phone to the Garmin Connect Mobile app (iOS/Android) and then onwards to Garmin Connect, the web platform for your daily activity and workout data.

Finally, in the event none of this activity tracker business is of interest to you – you can go ahead and disable that within the options as well.

Accuracy Test Run:

FR225-AccuracyTestRun

I got to very briefly steal a unit for a few hours so I decided to head out for a short run.  During the run, in order to compare HR accuracy I took along its sibling – the FR220 – paired to a traditional Garmin chest strap (HRM3).  Thus on the run I had:

A) Garmin FR220 with HR chest strap
B) Garmin FR225 with its internal optical HR sensor

The run was just a meandering flat course around some of the local parks here in Paris, nothing terribly complex.  The focus of it was mostly just on heart rate accuracy.  So I did a few surges and whatnot as I went along.  In order to explain things, I shot this short little video showing before/during/after the run, along with some analysis:

I thought it was both somewhat fitting and ironic that the traditional chest strap seemed to stumble briefly twice.  Go figure.

If we dive a bit deeper into heart rate side on some charts here, you’ll see that things largely mirror each other for the majority of the run.  You do see a 1-2BPM discrepancy in some cases. Either via just a second or two of lag, or just differences in smoothing.  None of which would have made a difference in a workout however (coming from one that trains heavily with HR data).

image

The one scenario that you see a difference though is around the 20-minute marker.  It’s when I stopped at a crosswalk and the traditional HR strap just…well…crapped the bed.  No idea why.  You can see that when I started running again it was just sitting there at 130BPM pondering life.  Whereas the Mio sensor within the FR225 instantly picked up and kept chugging.

image

You also see an interesting few second gap in the HR strap again a few minutes later for a few seconds.  I noticed this on the screen as well.  Perhaps the battery is going in the strap – I just picked one at random out of the bin of straps (I’ve mostly stopped using chest straps and instead use the Scosche optical HR band unless I have to test something else).

Of course, this is just a single test on a single relatively short run.  So while I’d view the optical HR accuracy as quite acceptable/good here, it’s possible that if I were to test the device for the next 2 months every other run could be bad.  Though, given Mio’s history I suspect that’s not terribly likely.

For those interested, the Garmin Connect activities are available here: The FR220 activity (chest strap) and the FR225 activity (optical sensor).

And for those that want to download the raw .FIT files themselves, they’re available here. Note again, the watch I was using is a beta watch, thus things are subject to change.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Garmin-FR225-FinishPic

In an effort to stem the tide of questions, here’s a list of what I suspect will be common questions.  Or, areas that I didn’t otherwise touch on in the course of the review:

What are the colors, price and availability?

The FR225 is available only in black/red, and for $299USD. Availability is set for “Q2 2015”, so basically it’ll be out by the end of June 2015.

What is the battery life?

Garmin states 7-10 hours of GPS-on & HR-on.  Additionally, it has 4 weeks in watch-on mode (i.e. time of day/activity tracking).

Does the FR225 have Garmin Connect IQ?

No, it does not.

Does the FR225 track steps?

Yes, it does. Along with sleep as well (automatically).

Will the FR225 capture heart rate while underwater?

I wasn’t able to test that yet, however many readers have been using the Mio Link successfully to transmit optical HR data underwater to another watch adjacent to it on their wrist (it has to be directly next to it due to water transmission limitations).  Outside of a few very short tests I did with that setup (which generally worked with the Mio Link for me), I haven’t spent significant time testing that configuration.

As for the FR225, since it uses the same sensor family as the Mio Link, I suspect it probably would work. Just keep in mind that you wouldn’t get any stroke/distance type data in the pool since the FR225 lacks a swimming mode.  Still, it’s something I’ll dig into in my in-depth review.

Does the FR225 have smartphone notifications?

No, it does not.  My guess is that they used 95% the same hardware from the FR220, which didn’t quite have the right internals to do a low-power Bluetooth Smart mode needed for the smartphone notifications.

Does the FR225 continually monitor your HR 24×7?

No, only in workout mode. You can however quickly check your HR by pressing up/down, which enables the HR sensor temporarily to show you your current pulse. But it doesn’t store this in any sort of 24×7 monitoring mode like the Fitbit Charge HR/Surge, or the Basis units.

Would you recommend the FR225 or an Apple Watch?

Well, one is a fair bit cheaper than the other.  I’m still working on my Apple Watch review.  At first glance, I’d say that the FR225 appears to have a more accurate HR sensor than the Apple Watch.  Meanwhile, the Apple Watch is far more versatile as a day to day smart watch, however it lacks GPS by itself (it needs a phone with it). It’ll likely come down to what you’re looking for.

How do you compare the FR225 to the TomTom Cardio lineup?

They’re very similar – so much so that they use the same optical HR sensor.  However, they differ a bit under the covers.  For example, the FR225 has daily activity tracking, whereas the TomTom Cardio doesn’t.  Inversely, the TomTom Cardio Multisport edition can be used for cycling and has a swimming mode – whereas the FR225 doesn’t.

Garmin’s site and app are significantly better than TomTom’s website, however the TomTom Cardio is also $40 cheaper (and semi-frequently goes on sale).

How would you rate the Fitbit Surge to the Garmin FR225?

In general Fitbit makes better daily activity trackers than Garmin (from a web platform standpoint), however, when it comes to GPS watches right now the nod is definitely more towards Garmin.  If I look at the optical sensor though, the FR225 can’t do continuous/all day long HR tracking like the Fitbit Surge can.  On the flip side, the Fitbit Surge isn’t terribly accurate when it comes to HR while cycling (and is so-so accurate during running).

Would you buy the FR225 or the Polar M400+Scosche optical band?

Now that’s a tricky one.  The FR225 would still be more expensive than the Polar/Scosche combo (about $50 more), but it would make for two things to deal with charging wise.  However, the M400 has multiple sport modes (the FR225 only has one), and it also has smartphone notifications coming up soon too via a firmware update. Thus, it’s a bit of a tricky question.

Is the FR225 waterproof?

Yes, to 50-meters.  And no, I didn’t put it in the waterproof chamber yet, simply because it was a beta unit and I didn’t really want to kill it on them in the few hours I had with it.  Don’t worry, as part of my in-depth review I will.

Can the FR225 pair to an existing HR strap?

Yes, it can pair to any ANT+ heart rate strap.

Can the FR225 pair to a running footpod?

Yes, it can pair to an ANT+ running footpod.

Does the FR225 re-transmit your heart rate over ANT+ to other devices?

No, super-disappointingly it does not. This would have been an ideal way for Garmin to potentially lure in Garmin Edge unit owners who might be casual runners, by giving them something they could use with their bike computer as well.  I wouldn’t be surprised however if the lack of re-broadcasting/re-transmitting is due to some terms of the licensing agreement with Mio.

Additionally, it does not re-broadcast/re-transmit your HR over standard Bluetooth Smart to any device (i.e. a 3rd party phone app).

Just to be clear through, re-broadcasting does not meant that you can’t view your HR on your phone after the activity is completed using Garmin Connect Mobile.  Additionally, you can also view the heart rate on the website in realtime when using Live Tracking with the FR225.  But you can’t pair another device to this HR signal.

When will Garmin add optical HR into their FR620, FR920XT, or Fenix3 watchs?

I don’t know, Garmin hasn’t announced any product plans beyond the FR225. However, it would seem pretty obvious to me that eventually all Garmin GPS watches will have optical HR within them. That’s pretty much the technology trend these days.  Just like it was to include activity tracking.  Nowadays, launching GPS watch without activity tracking would be akin to trying to sell sand in the desert.  Similarly, we’ll see that same transition for optical HR over the next 6-12 months (it’s already happening at the low-mid range, but will slowly creep up to higher end units).

Product Comparison Tool:

I’ve added the Garmin FR225 into the product comparison database.  This means you can mix and match it against any other product I’ve reviewed.  For the purposes of below, I’ve shown just the FR220, FR225, TomTom Cardio Runner, Epson Runsense SF-810, and Fitbit Surge – which seem to be to be the most applicable GPS-enabled competitors.

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 28th, 2016 @ 8:29 amNew Window
Price$299$349$249$269.00$249
Product Announcement DateMay 12th, 2015August 2014SEPT 16, 2013Apr 2, 2014Oct 27th, 2014
Actual Availability/Shipping DateJuly 2015Fall 2014 to Spring 2015OCT 31, 2013Mid-April 2014Dec 10th, 2014
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB, Bluetooth SmartUSB/Bluetooth SmatUSB, Bluetooth SmartUSB/Bluetooth SmartBluetooth Smart
Waterproofing50 Meters50 meters50 MetersATM5 (~50m)ATM5 (~50m), but no swimming
Battery Life (GPS)7-10 hours20hrs10 hours10hrs with GPS-on10 hours GPS on (5-7 days in time/step mode)
Recording IntervalSMART RECORDING (VARIABLE)1-secondSMART RECORDING (VARIABLE)1-second1-second
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYes, 7 daysYesYes, 7 daysYesNo
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatDependsGreatExcellentSo-so
AlertsVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALAudio/Visual/VibrateYes
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGreatGood
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoNoNoNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesNoNoNoYes
MusicGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Can control phone musicNo
Has music storage and playbackNo
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYEsYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoNoNoNoText and Call notifications only
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesNoYesNoNo
Group trackingNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Designed for cyclingBarely (Speed mode only)NoBarely (Speed mode only)NoYes
Power Meter CapableNoN/ANoN/AN/A
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableNoNoNoN/AN/A
Strava segments live on deviceNoNoNoNo
Crash detectionNo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Designed for runningYesYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)Yes (also has internal accelerometer)No (has built-in accelerometers)Yes (also has internal accelerometer)No, has internal accelerometerNO, HAS INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNoNoNo
VO2Max EstimationNoNoNoNoNo
Race PredictorNoNoNoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorNoNoNoNoNo
Run/Walk ModeYesNoYesNoNo
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Designed for swimmingNo (protected though just fine)No (protected though just fine)No (protected though just fine)No (protected though just fine)No
Record HR underwaterN/ANot wellNoN/AN/A
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Designed for triathlonNoNoNoNoNo
Multisport modeNoNoNoNoNo
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesNoYesNoNo
On-unit interval FeatureYesYesYesYesNo
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesNoYesNoNo
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesNoNo
Virtual Partner FeatureNoYesNoYesNo
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNoYesNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesNoYesNoNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)nONoNoNoNo
GeocachingnONoNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoNoNoNo
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoNoNoNoNo
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoNoNoNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoNoNo
Back to startNoNoNoNoNo
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNoNoNo
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Altimeter TypeGPSBarometricGPSGPSBarometric
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesYesNoYesYES
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYES (ALSO INTERNAL OPTICAL HR SENSOR)Optical HR sensor in unitYesYes (also internal optical HR sensor)Contains optical HR SENSOR
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesNoYesNoNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesNoYesNo, has internal accelerometerNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)No
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)No
Shimano Di2 ShiftingnONoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoNoYes (also internal optical HR sensor)No
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoYesNoNoNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNoNoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsNoNoNoNoNo
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressWindows/MacGarmin ExpressMySports ConnectWindows/Mac
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectYesGarmin ConnectTomTom MySportsYes
Phone AppiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkN/ALinkLinkLink
Clever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)Link
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 225Epson SF-810Garmin Forerunner 220TomTom Runner CardioFitbit Surge
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Remember again that you can mix and match any products you’d like within the product comparison tool.

My Initial Thoughts:

Garmin-FR225-Back

I’d first start out by noting that my time with the FR225 was extremely limited – just a few hours really.  And, it’s also a pre-production device (both hardware and software).  So while it performed well, I’d caveat that this isn’t an in-depth review (or really any review at all).

In the case of the FR225, by going with the generally proven Mio sensor and combining it with the also generally proven FR220, Garmin is likely able to minimize potential issues and get an optical unit quickly into the marketplace with the least risky device (compared to say trying to stuff it into the Fenix3 or FR920XT).  During my test run, I saw just that – it simply worked.  It acquired both GPS and heart rate quickly, and displayed/recorded that data accurately too.  Easy as pie.

I see the FR225 as really the starting point for what will likely be an influx of optical heart rate sensing watches by the three major GPS sport watch makers (Garmin/Suunto/Polar).  No doubt other companies have released very capable products in this space (TomTom, Epson, Adidas), but the volume of shipped units by those organizations just pales in comparison to what Garmin/Suunto/Polar do.  For example, in talking with Polar about optical HR earlier in the year – they were keenly aware of where the market is heading and noted that they weren’t ignoring that trend (but also noted they had nothing to share publically at the time).

Regarding the FR225 specifically, overall it’s a good mid-market offering.  The only challenge I think Garmin has is the pricing of the unit at $299. That’s $50 more than the Fitbit Surge, which also has GPS and activity tracking (plus phone/text notifications), along with a cycling mode and some indoor modes (i.e. for yoga).  On the flip side, the Garmin device has far more running workout capability functions – be it interval & custom workouts, or customization of the data screens.  Additionally, based on my history with the Mio sensors, I suspect that the FR225 will work for cycling, whereas even with Fitbit’s latest cycling update – I have approximately zero HR accuracy with the Fitbit Surge (GPS is fine).  Of course, I’d still have to validate that on the FR225 as part of my review process.

Speaking of that in-depth review – expect that likely in June sometime, once I’ve got a final production unit in my hands.

Thanks for reading!

Update: You can now pre-order the Garmin FR225 from Clever Training.  By doing so you help support the site, but also can save a bundle with the DCR/Clever Training VIP program (plus free 3-day shipping).

676 Comments

  1. Karla

    Any word on a 620 upgrade timing? I love my 610 with the touch screen but it is about do die and I don’t use it for cycling anymore (I don’t care about activity tracking or any of the 620 virtual partner / race features. I do like the 1 second measuring but not sure if smart won’t work fine either). I may like the running dynamics next year when I get back to speedwork (currently in base building phase for the rest of year). Is there any point to waiting for update or should I get the 225?

  2. Karla

    To my above posted like to add that I love the extra training pages information that I can display up with my 610 and can buy a refurbished one for $150. Wondering if I should just buy used (if it dies soon) and use as backup when 620 upgrade comes out.

  3. James Goldstein

    Just got mine from REI. As a smartwatch not very good, as a running tool it’s very nice.

    The watch in use and my review video:

    link to youtu.be

  4. David

    Ray: a strange Garmin 225 AND Apple Watch question that perhaps you can address now or in your upcoming Apple Watch review…

    If I leave my Apple Watch behind and wear the Garmin 225 on a run am I correct in stating Garmin Connect will send workout AND step data to Apple’s Health app which will merge that data with whatever your Apple Watch and iPhone have been acquiring during the rest of the day? And this merged information will be reflected on the Apple Watch’s activity app?

    Thanks…

    • No, the Apple Watch activity app doesn’t all you to pull that data in from non-Apple Watch devices (even from iOS). However, the Apple Health app does (from numerous sources, including Garmin).

    • David

      Interesting, I assumed the Apple Watch activity app WAS using the combined totals of Apple Health. Thanks Ray. (I wish Apple Health had a decent UI, I can’t believe it’s an Apple app).

  5. Lou

    disappointed – was just told by clevertraining.com that my order which was supposed to ship out late june has been delayed. they shipped out the first order they received from garmin but there wasnt enough to get mine shipped as they had a lot of pre-orders before my order which I placed on june 8. they said mine will definitely ship out with the next order they receive from garmin but that has been delayed from late june to july 3. and they said it wont actually ship til july 6 since july 3 is a friday. im not even going to bother looking elsewhere for it because I got a 10% discount ($30) after paying $4.99 and joining their membership club via dcrainmakers link. so I saved a net of $25 plus I paid no tax which saved me another $26 compared to buying it locally. so with a total savings of $51 im just going to wait til it ships from clevertaining as its not worth spending another $51 just to try and get it a week or two earlier and buying it locally if it was available. cant wait to try it and compare it to my garmin 620 w/chest strap. hoping for the best as im so ready to ditch the chest strap.

  6. Paul

    I got mine and ran with it twice so far. Both times, the HR was way off. I did easy runs but my HR average was >195 (my MAX is 182). I don’t know if I am not wearing it tight enough, too tight or what. Tho be fair, the apple watch HRM does basically the same thing for me so is no use. I wonder if it just won’t work for me 🙁

    • It should be snug, if you shake your wrist there should be zero movement.

      Also, ensure it’s not too close to your wrist bone. Perhaps I’ll put together a short video or something showing where it should go and how it should fit.

  7. Chris

    I would appreciate some comments please? I have a 225 on back order and an wondering if it is the device I need. I have a Garmin Edge 1000 for my bike which I use for leisure riding. I do not compete. Like most I dislike HRM chest straps! I also do a lot of hill walking and want to capture the data from that as part of my overall fitness planning as well as the HRM data and calorie burn. The activity tracker has an appeal for more data. The 225 seems best for this job.
    Unfortunately the 225 will not talk to the 1000 and so not sure how it will all tie together in Connect. Would I need to still capture heart rate data with a strap and the 1000? I also thought the 225 would be good to use with my turbo to keep that data separate from my on road data? Thanks in advance for any thoughts. Chris

    • Yeah, for the Edge 1000 you’d still need a HR sensor of some sort. As you noted, Garmin unfortunately hasn’t enabled re-broadcasting on it.

      As for combining the data, if you just used one device at a time – it’ll all show up on Garmin Connect, but then it won’t ‘backport’ any calorie data for your rides from the Edge 1000. If you used both devices, it’ll just show as duplicates (which you can then delete off one of them if you want to).

    • Lou

      chris, I don’t know much about the edge 1000 but what I can tell you is that from most reviews, the calorie count using a wrist heart rate monitor like the 225 is way off! apparently calorie counting from a chest strap is very accurate whereas from a wrist optical sensor you lose about 20 -30 percent of the calories as its never calculated correctly. this has shown to be constantly this way if you go back and review anyone who has posted a review using both methods (the 225 vs a watch with a chest strap) to compare. you can also see more reviews if you go to the garmin forum too. one last thing, there has also been a lot of complaints that the activity tracker doesn’t calculate very well and that there has been a lot of false tracking just when someone is moving their arm and not necessarily walking or in an activity. to me the 225 is really a running watch and no more, so do more research before you invest in one if the calorie counting and activity tracker are important to you. hope this info helps, take care.

    • Chris

      Thanks DC. Looks like I am stuck with the HRM strap for the time being! Will need to look at another watch to record my hill walking data.

    • Chris

      Thanks Lou – some helpful comments. I clearly need to check out the Hiking watches which might fit my needs.

    • I’m not seeing the 20-30% loss. For example, looking at a ride this past weekend – it was in the ballpark, and actually Epix was a touch bit lower (with the HRM-RUN).

    • Lou

      dcrainmaker, actually I meant to say a 20-30 percent discrepancy. for example in the run you posted with this review, you ran about 3.6 miles. the 220 w/chest strap said you burned 368 calories where the 225 says you burned 440 calories. that’s an increase of about 20 percent more calories. for someone who feels calories burned is an important stat, that’s a huge discrepancy. personally I don’t care about calories burned, but for someone who does this may not be acceptable.

    • kenny

      I am looking for medium priced sports watch. I am looking at FR15, 220 and the Vivoactive. I don’t want overkill. I do an intense bootcamp style workout a couple times a week and run a few miles. I will probably do another half marathon in November. Any recommendations?

  8. Sal

    I got my 225 8 days ago and went for a 3 runs yet (1x Intervall, 2x “normal” runs).
    I love this watch! It’s probably the best running watch I bought yet. (I tried Nike, Adidas, TomTom and Polar before.. even the Apple Watch Sport for 3 weeks.. but that’s not a running watch..).
    The 225 has everything I need! Optical heart rate works perfectly. I used a Mio Link bevore and there’re no differences. GPS ist really fast and accurate. And I like the look of the watch. I wear it all day Long.
    Just for the night I take it off.

    Actually there is only one Thing I miss: the possibility to sync manually with the app!
    Isn’t it really possible to do that? I know that it syncs automatically. But every time I run the app it says: “last sync 2 hours ago” or “last sync 30 min ago”. I want to sync it when I use the app!
    The only way to do so (I found out yet) is to turn off and on the watch.

    • Lou

      thanks sal for your positive review. it really seems like a hit or miss for most with many reviews positive and many also negative. hoping when I get mine it works for me. its amazing to see the reviews all over the place with the 225. maybe garmin still has some bugs to work out as this is the first wrist heart rate watch they’ve released??

  9. Martin

    Hi,

    I hope it’s possible to sync with a computer, or do I need an app? I have an iPhone 4 which is impossible to upgrade to iOS 8, and I read somewhere that iOS 7 won’t work.

  10. I am curious. Would it record the HR for a workout OTHER than running? I want to be able to record my HR and activity time for when I lift/a video. Is there a way to register this on the watch when I go to lift/start the video?
    Thank you!

  11. Jason

    Ray, how does the optical heart rate sensor work on the Girl’s wrist? My wife also has a small wrist so I’m not sure if the sensor would work since it looks so big (she’s only 5′ tall!). Thanks!

    • She hasn’t used it yet, but my Mom has been in town for the last two weeks and used it daily for all her runs. Worked really well for her (including a few days where she was also comparing it with another HR strap).

    • Eva

      I have a very petite frame and my wrist circumference is < 5.5" and maybe 2" across the top. Do you know how small the FR225 band will go and still get a good HRM reading? I have been unable to find one to try on at a store. I currently have a 610 that is very uncomfortable if I snug the band to my wrist so I normally leave it loose. It would be nice if Garmin would put "Fits wrist sizes n to nn" in their specifications. Thanks much for the great reviews!

    • Eva

      Update answering my own question: I was able to try on the watch this past weekend. It did not fit properly when worn face out. Too much light got under the seal. However, I was able to make a good seal if I wore the watch face in. I found that in my case (tiny wrists) the strap was pretty long and stuck out a bit too much. The fit was a deal breaker for me. So if you have tiny wrists (less than 5.5″ diameter), I highly suggest that you try the watch on before you purchase it.

  12. Dan Robach

    Has anybody been able to check the HR accuracy during vigorous exercise such as Crossfit or P90X style workouts?

  13. Danielle

    DCrainmaker-
    Thoughts on the purchase of a the 220 vs 225 right now? I am about to upgrade my Forerunner 10 because I want a heart rate monitor and was all set to get the 220 until I heard about the 225. I’ve never worn a HR chest strap, and am weary of discomfort and chafing, but I love the Violet color and slightly smaller size of the 220. Do you know if the 225 will come out with other colors and if so, when? Would love to get your thoughts. Thanks!

  14. Moe Joe

    I am a very happy owner of the FR220 and put up with the chest strap. The 225 looks pretty attractive, partially due to the HRM and partially due to the activity stuff. However, the main reason I use the 220 only for running is that the watch crystal looks and feels like it will scratch pretty easily in regular use. Does anyone have any experience with daily use of the 220, or managed to scratch their 220 crystal?

    Thanks.

    • Anna

      I have the 220 and mostly only take it off at night. Have had it since January 2014. I don’t see any scratching, with the exception of the time my husband borrowed it and fell on some sharp stones while out running in rough terrain. I run orienteering and often have to fight my way through bushes and to get to the posts, so I have pushed it through some challenges and would say the 220 holds up pretty well.

    • Moe Joe

      Cool. Thanks much Anna.

  15. Steve Barnes

    Thanks for the excellent writeup (preview?) 🙂 Question though: Is the HR monitor 24-7 such as the Mio Fuse / Mio Alpha, or is it only active while running (or turned on manually, etc.)?

  16. Tanner

    Hi, my Garmin 225 finally arrived yesterday and I love it. I do have one question. I’d like to wear it while riding my spin bike for heart rate purposes only. Unfortunately I don’t like having to lift my wrist off the bike to read my heart rate when I’m really pushing hard. Is there any display that I can attach to the handle of my spin bike that will display a real time feed of the Heart Rate from the Garmin 225? I don’t need any other info, just heart rate.

    Thanks so much!

    Also, for what it’s worth, prior to the 225 I was using the 620 with HRM-RUN strap. I like the 225 a lot better for several reasons. Here they are:

    1. No Strap (obviously). Ran a 5K today and my heart rate recordings were perfect.
    2. I really like using the buttons to navigate the watch as opposed to the touch screen of the 620. I can navigate the menus so much quicker with the buttons, just easier/more reliable, at least for me.
    3. This may depend where you live, but the GPS based on my first few runs so far is much more accurate than the 620 ever was. The 620 was always a bit “off”, the 225 so far has been pretty much perfect (granted, I’m only running between 3 and 5 miles).

    I do miss the blue color of the 620, as well as it’s smaller/lighter size. But once I get going I don’t really notice the size, although when I take the watch off it does leave an imprint on my skin that kind of freaks out my 3 year old.

    Thanks!
    Tanner

  17. Dan Robach

    I bought the 225 yesterday and did a P90X type workout with it where my HR is fluctuating rapidly between 150 and 190 BPM for 45 minutes. I wore a chest belt synced to the Wahoo fitness app as well for comparison. The HR readings of the 225 were way off most of the time, it handled this workout very badly and took many minutes to catch up with most of the time being 30-40 beats below the strap reading. The average at the end was pretty close though with only 6 beats difference to the strap and the calorie estimate was pretty much the same as well, so I assume there is some software smoothing or interpolating going on. Unfortunately the shop where I bought it doesn’t take it back so I’m trying to sell it 2nd hand now and then going back to the Polar V800.

  18. Chris Lovie-Tyler

    Hi, DC.

    I’m trying to unsubscribe to this comment thread, but I can’t!

    When I click on the unsubscribe link in an email, it takes me to the page where I enter my email address (to get a link to the management page), and then nothing happens. There is no link displayed on the page, and I don’t get an email.

    Could you please remove me from the comment thread?

    • Hi Chris-

      Odd, it should be working again (unsubscribe). You’d just wanted to have used the most recent e-mail (some older e-mails from mid-last week or prior were having issues).

      That said, I actually can’t find your e-mail address you entered on this page in the system. Can you double-check?

      Cheers.

    • Chris Lovie-Tyler

      Sorry, I seem to have subscribed to comments twice, with two email addresses. I’ve managed to unsubscribe for the other one, but not this one that I’ve just entered.

      We’ll see if anything more comes through.

  19. JB

    Got mine today. Had a bit of a play and everything seems to work great. The only issue so far is Bluetooth sync to my android phone which I can’t seem to fix. Optical HR works well. Very happy so far.

  20. Stephan Joos

    @JB: defective Bluetooth connectivity is a problem often discussed in the official Garmin forum. I got the same problems but can live with it (not that i wouldn’t appreciate if Garmin could fix the issue). HR works fine, no significant spikes or dropouts so far.

    • JB

      I can also live with the bluetooth issues for now, at least it doesn’t drain the watch. I noticed that when you get it working (after rebooting the watch) it only syncs the runs, but not the steps and sleep. Weird…

      Last couple of runs I had a few very worrying spikes (one was in the middle of the race). WIll try to keep playing with the placement. I could understand the dropouts (bad placement, not tight enough, etc), but those spikes (way over my maximum HR) are going to be a dealbreaker if they continue to happen. I created a thread over at the official forums to try to collect as much info as possible for Garmin to fix. I am hoping that I would be the isolated case so they can just replace the watch, but seems like the software is playing up.

    • Dan Robach

      I had my watch replaced after the first couple workouts resulted in way too many dropouts, spikes and flatlines. The second 225 showed the same issues so it’s definitely an inherent software or hardware problem. Garmin definitely seems to have adopted the habit of companies releasing products prematurely and using their customers as unpaid beta testers.

  21. Frank

    After Nike, Adidas, TomTom and Polar this is my first Garmin-watch! And I love it! The best running watch I used yet! No problems with HR, motivating activity tracker and I like how it looks (red/black).
    And last but not least: Garmin’s website and app are good as well! Different than Polars, maybe not really better but I like how it’s built with all the modules.
    I’m looking for your in-depth review Ray!

  22. Suzy

    I purchased the 225 last week was excited to try the wrist-based heart rate monitor (I’ve used a chest strap for years). I wore the 225 on several runs, and each time my heart rate reading was far off base. During one run, the projected heart rate was rather low, and it went even lower when I started running faster. On two other runs, my projected heart rate was low for the first 40 or so minutes, and then the watch said was heart rate was over 200 beats per minute. Um, no. I was running at a relatively relaxed pace. There was only one part of one run that I think my heart rate was recorded accurately. Very disappointing. Needless to say, I returned the 225 and went back to my more reliable watch and chest strap.

    • Andrew

      My experience is pretty similar to Suzy’s and I have a friend that has had a HR experience that is even worse. For me I’ve had at least 5 minutes of random extreme high or low heart rate in every run for the past 2 weeks. I’m also having Bluetooth issues across several android devices. We are both returning the units for a refund. It’s a great product in theory but the execution is ordinary in my experience.

    • Kasey Cotulla

      I exchanged my FR225 as well because of the HR inconsistency. (for VivoActive.)

      I believe there are two major makers of optical HR monitor technology and the Mio line just doesn’t work well enough for me. The optical HR monitor technology by Valencell and used by Scosche has been working like a champ for almost a year. Your mileage may vary, but I was disappointed the FR225 didn’t work better.

  23. Dirk

    I’ve been reading and re-reading this review about a dozen times now.
    Really want to get this watch.

    I currently use Runkeeper and a simple Polar HR watch but would love to be able to combine my HR monitoring with my activity tracking. (I’d still carry my phone for music but at least I’d get some more battery life out of it and constant HR monitoring)

    I just wonder what the issue would be to use this for cycling? As long as the GPS has signal it will mark your distance and speed and the HR function should work anyway?

  24. Aaron

    How many data fields can it display per screen?

  25. Parastou Jadidi

    Does it have a
    Lap botton ?
    Lap HR
    HR alert ?

    • Brett

      Lap button: yes
      Lap HR: no (real time and average HR are the only HR choices)
      HR Alert: yes, low and high

  26. Kasey Cotulla

    I ordered the FR225 and picked it up from REI. I wanted this watch to work out, but I’ve since returned it for a Garmin VivoActive. I had to replace my FR620 after cracking the glass and getting some water damage on a camping trip.

    I’ve used a Scosche Rhythm+ HR monitor religiously for almost a year in different arm and wrist positions, so I really expected the optical HR monitor on the FR225 to be as reliable. It isn’t. I tried every position on my arm during runs and workouts and the best I could get were consistent readings about 80% of the time – whether running, biking, elliptical, or at Crossfit. I was prepared to simply sync it with my Scosche unit, but in the end the FR225 is too thick on the wrist for everyday wear because of the built in monitor.

    Since I needed a new watch I opted for the VivoActive because of the slimmer profile, lower cost than the Fenix3, and the Connect IQ capabilities. It would be cool if the VivoActive was a little rounder and looked a bit less like a 1980’s Casio watch but I sure love all the features. I’m kind of glad my 620 died and I’m fine with using the reliable Scosche HR monitor.

    Happy training!

    • Parastou Jadidi

      Dose your scosche Unti sync with a forerunner watch (910 in my case ) or can the data be uploaded to garmin connect ? I am just wondering how I can use it instead of the my garmin strap .

    • Grant

      I have the Scosche and it sync beautifully with the 920xt, so there should be no problems with the 920, in fact I think that is what Ray used to do, it should just be a case of selecting it from the available items when you connect them (not sure on the 910 screens I’m afraid)

    • Kasey Cotulla

      The Scosche Rhythm+ is great because it has Ant+ for Garmin watch connections and also has Bluetooth for hooking up to the phone at the same time. If I’m on cardio equipment I can record my HR on my watch and/or also record my HR on my iPhone. (I use the Wahoo app and regularly upload Stairmaster workouts to Garmin Connect.)

      Seamless.

  27. Parastou Jadidi

    I just received my FR225 today and took it for a 14k run , also wore my 910 w HR strap at the same time .i am afraid i will be returning the FR225 back to Costco for a full refund as there was such gross HR discrepancy that it was not even funny !! As uncomfortable as it is , I will be sticking to the hR strap !

    • NikiGT

      One note on this one: My experience shows that the first time you use the watch, it needs some time to get properly going. Meaning, the first 30-60 minutes are a bit off in terms of HR, but since that first use I never experienced the same anymore. Give it one more go 🙂

  28. Lou

    hi everyone, just received my scosche and I want to do a test with it vs my garmin 620 w/chest strap on the same run to see how they compare until I receive my garmin 225, which I will also be using to compare vs the garmin 620 w/chest strap. until my garmin 225 arrives, I know I cant hook up 2 heart rate monitors to my garmin 620, so what free iphone app can I use with the scosche so that I can come home and then compare the results using either garmin express or mygpsfiles. I also own runtastic pro on my iphone and I know I can hook up my scosche to that app, but can that app produce the file I need to use it on garmin express or mygpsfiles? thanks.

    • stefanosM

      you can use runkeeper with scosche and use tapiriik (link to tapiriik.com) to copy the data to connect

    • Kasey Cotulla

      I’ve used the Wahoo Fitness app on my iPhone for a few years. I found it more stable than RunKeeper and it is a breeze to upload immediately to Garmin Connect within the Wahoo app. Or Strava, or Runkeeper, or Training Peaks, etc.

  29. AndyRTR

    I don’t own a pc running a Windows OS. Is it possible to use the FR225 fully without the garmin pc software? Especially can I update the firmware via the Android smartphone app and create custom interval training runs?

    • pehash

      Garmin Express runs on OsX as well. A bit faster (than Windows version) I would add. You can still sync via their website (old method), but it requires a plugin which i doubt you can run on any mobile browser. Garmin Connect mobile app will sync with most smartphones, it works both ways (you can send data to the watch) but firmware updates require a cable connection for safety reasons.

  30. Lou

    wow! im super impressed with my first test run using the scosche rythym+! im still waiting for my garmin 225 to arrive to put it to the test, but I received my scosche rythym+ today and put it to the test. I own a garmin 620 and I used it with the hrm chest strap and then i borrowed my friends garmin 620 and used it with the scosche rythym+. I went for a short 2.25 mile run and I couldn’t of asked for a better result. absolutely no unexpected drops or increases from the scosche. both had the exact same heart rate average of 157 and stride of 0.92. the cadence was 88.5 for the scosche and 89 for the chest strap. really impressed with the accuracy of the scosche and it was much more comfortable having the heart rate monitor on my upper forearm instead of around my chest.

    • Lou

      by the way, im aware the cadence when using the scosche comes from the watch, but I was concerned that the watch accelerometer may not be as accurate since its positioned on the wrist compared to the chest strap accelerometer which is in a better position on the center of the body. but thankfully the watch accelerometer when using the scosche was just as accurate as the accelerometer in the chest strap.

  31. Matt

    Just got the 225 and mine must have a defect. There was a quick flash of the green lights on the HRM and since then nothing. No green lights and therefore can’t get a HR measurement. HR is on auto and enabled.

    Updated to version 2.30 through Garmin Express and the usb cable but when I take it off the charging cradle the watch tells me to install update. Update then fails and tell me to update through Garmin Connect. Go to Garmin Connect and all software is up to date. Argggghhhhhhh!!!

    I may just have a faulty watch?!?

    • Matt

      *****Update****

      It looks like this is a known issue if the watch you receive is version 2.20. On the update to 2.30 it updates the software but fails to install the HRM software which leaves the HRM function completely dead. Returned to Garmin and they are sending a replacement.

  32. Lou

    Garmin 225 For The Win! SO HAPPY! got my 225 today and took it for a 5 mile run (was planning to do 6 or 7 miles but it was mid-day and almost 90 degrees outside so I cut it down to 5). I ran with 3 items: the scosche rythym+ via the iphone wahoo fitness app, the garmin 620 with the chest strap and the garmin 225 that has the built in heart rate monitor. ALL 3 PERFORMED PERFECTLY! to further test how the 3 would react to slowing down and speeding up, at the beginning of mile 5 I walked for 0.25 mile and then I sprinted the last 0.25 mile of the run. all 3 devices reacted the same way when i walked and when I sprinted. never once did I get any spikes or drops from any of the 3 devices. my overall avg cadence was lower than normal as I normally have a cadence when I run of 89 or 90, but that was because I did walk 0.25 mile during the run. all in all im very happy with the 225 and my intention is to keep it and get rid of the scosche and garmin 620. but first I will run a week or two with the 225 to make sure I keep getting these great results. as far as a few tips on using the 225, as you can see from the picture, I had it up higher on my arm than I normally would use my watch. the placement of the 620 on my arm is where I normally wear my watch. I had it snug, but not super tight where it was uncomfortable. it didn’t move at all during my run. as i stated above, it was almost 90 degrees and very hot, i sweated a lot and that didn’t affect the 225 at all. I turned on the 225 while warming up a bit before I actually started my run. as I run more I will try to see if I can get away with wearing the 225 lower on my arm and see if that affects its performance. the calories burned on the 620 is what it normally is when I run 5 miles with the 620, but the scosche and 225 had me burning more calories. not sure which is correct, but for me, calories isn’t something im concerned with. hope this review helps, loving the 225 and hoping it keeps working for me so I can run with just one watch and nothing else.

    • Petra

      Lou, thank you for posting the comparative data! I went for a 5 miler this morning and thought that the 225 performed great as well. I have small wrists–I’m only 5’2″– but as long as the watch is just above my wrist bone and the band is tight, it works like a champ. It is even possible to pick out the the hilly parts of the run just from the heart rate profile on Garmin Connect!

  33. Lou

    and heres the picture of me wearing all 3 devices

  34. Brett

    Replaced my 610 with the 225 about a week ago, and I only have a few runs under my belt with it, but I already love this watch.

    Compared to the 610, I most enjoy the optical HR (spot on so far), speed of satellite acquisition, speed of average/lap pace calculation, and the decreased weight. The activity tracker is sort of fun as well, but I’m not really sure it’s that useful.

    The only items I miss a bit are the four data items per screen and the lack of a lap cadence option. These are small nits, though, in my mind.

  35. Geoff

    Hi Ray,

    regarding the FR225 not being able to rebroadcast HRM via ANT+, do you know if this is a hardware limitation or firmware? Just trying to work out if there is any chance of it being an added feature down the track. My wife would really like to be able to ditch her HRM strap while cycling…

    Cheers,
    Geoff

  36. Quick question but can the Garmin 225 be charged while on the move?

    • NikiGT

      I don’t think so – as you charge it through the USB connection, and for that you need to take the watch off as it connects to the charger by two small holes which are on the backside of the watch. So even if you have a portable charger (such as Brunton) which could be used while on the move, you need to take the watch off.

  37. Chris Lovie-Tyler

    I’ve been using mine for a few weeks now, and I’m happy with it. I’m only just getting back into running, and I have an arrhythmia (SVT), so I’m running very short distances, alternating walking and running, at the moment. The heart rate monitor seems to be accurate (no spikes that I’ve noticed). I like the heart rate zones and how the watch beeps and vibrates when I go above the maximum I’ve set.

    I have a large wrist, and I wonder, from reading the mixed reviews above, whether it’s a bit finicky depending on the size of your wrist and how you wear it. I wear it fairly tight, but not uncomfortably so. In fact, once I start running, I don’t really notice it. I much prefer it to having to wear a chest strap.

    One of the reasons I bought the 225 was because it was the only one of the wrist-based HRMs I tried on that fit me! (The other two were the TomTom Cardio Runner and Mio Alpha 2.) I’m glad. It seems to be working well for me.

  38. Lou

    if anyone is interested in buying a scosche rythym+, I have 2 available for sale that are in mint condition and work perfectly. each one has 2 armbands (a small and a large). we tested them in case we didnt like the garmin 225 but we’re keeping the 225’s. as per the comparision tests ive done and posted in this forum, their heart rate accuracy is exactly that of the garmin watches. email me at marathonLou@optimum.net if interested and only if you have a paypal account, thanks.

  39. Steven Restrepo

    Hello DC,

    I just purchased the fr225. Now i know the activity tracker and step tracker can work with gps. And i have the hr set as automatic. Now in order to last the 4 weeks of battery life im assuming i just have to turn off the gps correct? Now when im ready to go for a run do i have to turn the gps onor does it turn on automatically? And after my run do i have to turn it off again to save battery or is that automatic as well. Thank you for ur help

    • Scott

      Steven,

      The activity tracker works while in regular ‘watch’ mode, no GPS its using accelerometer . Unless you go in and disable GPS or something it comes alive when you go into run mode by double pressing the red button and back off after your activity and back into watch mode.

  40. Brett

    I went on a 20 mile bike ride, and here is a comparison of heart rate data from the 225 (optical HR) and the 610 (with HR chest strap). Pretty much identical…

  41. Dominik

    Hi DC,
    based on your reviews I’m deciding between Garmin FR225 and Polar M400 (+ Scosche optical band). Leaning more to Garmin FR225. Are you going to publish mentioned in-depth review anytime soon? Or at least – did you found any issues with it meanwhile which could lower “value” of this product?

    Dominik

  42. Steven

    One thing that no one seems to be talking about here is the level of GPS inaccuracy of the 220 and the 225 which then obviously creates the same level of inaccuracy in your speed and pace calculations.

    a friend of mine has a 220 and another has the 225 and when we run parkrun(5km) together they are regularly recording distances of 4.8- 4.85k when we run exactly the same line and my 310xt always measures within +/- 50m of the 5km. So it appears that the newer watches are just not very accurate.
    Conversely one friends for 10 watch is always within 20m of the distance.

    DC,

    Do you know of any plans to address these accuracy issues? I’m currently using the 310xt with the scosche rhythm+ as my set up and looking at the inaccuracy issues of the 225 I honestly can not justify the outlay to upgrade to a single unit when I will have to constantly be doing math to adjust for it being 2% shorter and slower compared to what I see on screen.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Brett

      Steven, I know this is just one reference point, but I have compared my 225 with my old and trusty 610 by running the same routes, and the 225 distance is identical. The mile laps are at the same points and the run finishes at the same place, so I have not noticed any distance inaccuracies with my 225. Again, that is only one reference point. I did upgrade to the latest software (v2.3 with GPS v3.3), so maybe there have been changes that I don’t know about.

    • Lou

      for what its worth I did around 10 comparison runs using my new garmin 225 and my old garmin 620 w/chest strap and all 10 runs had identical distances. I also have some friends who now own the 225 and they too have had no distance issues. im really happy with the 225 and all my comparison runs showed the heart rate graphs on both watches were also identical.

  43. Shawn

    So if you have a hr strap that does the running dynamics, can the 625 connect to it?

    • Brett

      There is no 625… yet.

    • Lou

      I think you meant to say if you have a hr strap that does the running dynamics can the “225” connect to it as there is no 625 out yet. the answer is no. the new 225 doesn’t have running dynamics built in the watch to receive that data from the hr strap, only the 620 does.

  44. Marcel

    It sounded like a good thing, this optical FR225, but while I’m on the lookout for a new watch to treat myself to, early next year, the 225 is not going to be it without phone notifications. On long runs, I always carry a phone (for emergencies), and I’d really like the notifications. And of course, it’s a wonderful way of receiving support while running a race. I can even imagine something like strava live tracking being combined with notifications to let you now when a friend is nearby (or better yet, plot an intercept course 😉 )

    • Brett

      The Fenix 3 and Epix both had notifications.

    • Brett

      correction… have, not had

    • Marcel

      The Epix is not an option for me – I have an Oregon 650 for my navigation needs. The Fenix3 is definitely an option, though a very expensive one. First Garmin would have to resolve the current issues, though. I am not at all impressed with Garmin’s track record in that regard, I’ve had loads of problems with my FR610. That said, since the last couple of updates, that one seems to behave again. Fingers crossed.

  45. Marco

    Got my 225 yesterday. Optical HRM was working fine for the first few minutes, then it died. A software update is available (from Garmin Express) but failing to complete even after numerous attempts. A friend of mine got one this week as well and is seeing completely inaccurate readings. I would recommend staying away from this watch until they get their sh*t together.

    • Dan

      Same here … Got mine on Friday and took it on a run HR monitor worked fine as I was on a treadmill. Tried to do the same thing on Sunday and nothing. HR won’t register. Tried the update and it does nothing. The is the same crap from them. This is the 4th different one I have owned and my 110 was the best one I ever had until the band feel apart and they replace it with a 10. I have had a 620 for about 1.5 years and it has gone back 3 times.

  46. Matt Potter

    Optical heart rate is obviously the way things will go, and I know this technology is fairly new, but I’m guessing the sensor won’t fail inside the reasonable lifetime of the product? Just wanted to get your thoughts on this. I guess it is new so there is no way of knowing yet.

    I’m guessing you could still link with a chest strap and override the optical sensor? Or not?

    On a completely different side can you see any manufacturer going with or being persuaded into implementing an android system into their watches? I guess it would need Google to push it and get in bed with one of the sports watch manufacturers and actually pay them to get it off the ground? But I’m getting worried that the huge market that don’t want to invest in a running watch will go for the Apple iWatch. I know this could make the watch a power drain, but I have a FR620 and the OS is so basic. I’m surprised that no watch manufacturer has thought of doing this as it would save them so much money in having to support the platform they currently have on the watch. It’d have to be manufacturered by a sports watch manufacturer though as the GPS from a linked phone is woeful in accuracy and I have no faith in mobile phone manufacturers embedding a GPS chip that is good enough. Can you see this coming?

  47. Laura

    I’ve had my 225 for about a month now. I’m pretty happy with it except for 2 issues:
    1. Sometimes, my hr is wildly off – as in 70 when it should be about 160. I have it pretty tight around my wrist and above my wrist bone. I also sweat a lot. I’ve tried taking it off and wiping it dry and that sometimes works. I’d say it’s mostly accurate and better than wear a chest strap.
    2. Still have issues pairing it with my android device. I’ve already contacted support. Sometimes the devices are paired, sometimes they are not. That’s frustrating.
    Another thought – good thing Garmin released this device during the summer. In the winter time, I wear my watch *over* layers on my wrist so I can actually see the readings. Guess that won’t be an option when the weather is cold.
    Otherwise – it’s a great option and the best selling point for me was losing the chest strap (and I’ve got about 7 years worth of training data recorded on garmin connect via garmin devices) Thanks for your reviews!

    • Marcel

      You might want to try wearing it on the inside of your wrist, of only to check if the sweat is the problem..

  48. Steven

    Re my comment about accuracy, I was actually referring to all newer watches. The 20 series (220/620/920) all share the same lack of accuracy and the 225 is a 220 with optical HR added,
    Therefore I am not surprised that it will measure the same as a 620, but it is not accurate compared to officially measured courses. Interestingly the data from both the 220 and 225 is much more accurate when it goes through strava so it appears that the inaccuracy is a watch based calculation problem. That is why I am wondering if garmin intend to do a software upgrade.
    Both my friends have watches that they can not trust on the run, which is a shame as the optical HR would be a huge plus if the GPS based pave/distance was on point.

    • Brett

      Just to clarify, I measured it against my 610 (not the 620), so an older watch that I have used for years during numerous sanctioned races, and it has always been spot on. My 225 is matching my 610, so it seems very accurate as well.

  49. Elisa

    I have the watch. Is there any way to change the activity mode from “Run” (like to a swim mode or hike mode?)

    • Brett

      No, only run mode on the 225 (same as on the 220). I am slightly hopeful that they will add a Bike mode with a future software update like they did on the 620, but they might not since this is their mid-level GPS watch.

    • Júlia

      Do you know if there’s a stopwatch function?

  50. John

    Best review I have read so far. Complete and to the point. Great work.

  51. Roda

    Hello,

    I would like to capture my heart rate and calories when lifting weights at the gym. Is this watch capable of that? Do you just use it as an Activity Tracker at that point and turn off the Run feature?

    Thank you for your time.

    • NikiGT

      Good question – I know you need to turn off the GPS while using it in the gym for this purpose, but when I do it, even though it measures my HR, it does not display or calculate the right calories. I assume it is because its calculation method relies also on the distance you have taken which is minimal in the gym, but this is just a guess.

    • Marva

      How do you know the calories are not accurate?

      I have been using it because I was injured and was forced to do water aerobics. This one is the only one I know that can keep track of heart rate in the water. It helped me push harder to stay at least in the aerobic range.

      The calorie reports are high, but I’ve always got high calorie burn numbers with garmin products. But perhaps that’s because I am using them for non running activities? Now that I think about it, it doesn’t seem the calories reported for walks/runs are as out of whack as those reported for my in gym activities.

      I am not sure how to turn off the gps on the 225. Any help with that would be appreciated.

  52. Dale

    I’ve heard Tom Tom syncs straight to Strava. Do you know if the 225 does as well?

  53. NikiGT

    I have been using the 225 for a month now so getting somewhat familiar with its functions, nevertheless, I have an issue with the Garmin Connect diary for which I do not seem to find any solution anywhere.
    The Diary section on my Garmin Connect Dashboard should indicate the training days with the colour I choose – and it doesn’t. I see the weekly summary at the right hand side, but the diary view itself is blank. I have tried it in Chrome and iExplorer as well. And to be honest, this is one of the features that I looked forward the most.
    Has anyone ever faced the same problem? Or am I the only one being clumsy with it?
    Thanks in advance for any advice!

  54. Melanie

    How does vibrate alert work? I listen to music so I never hear the beep on my old forerunner 305. Can a person input a pace they don’t want to go under and it vibrates?

    There’s about 5 features that the 620 has that the 220/225 do not. (Excluding the touch screen) I’m not sure what they do? When looking at the comparison chart for these devices, can someone explain what I’m missing out on by choosing the 220/225 vs 620? (Again I’m not talking about the touch screen or the lack of optical HRM).

    I’ve been debating the 220 or 620 for a couple weeks and just learned of the 225 so now I’m just torn.

    What I’ve wanted for the past few years was vibrate alert. And auto pause,… Which all 3 have.

    I just don’t know what device is for me bc I don’t know what all the features do on 620 that aren’t on 220/225.

    Thanks

  55. Melanie

    I see where the 220/620 say “vibrate alert when you’ve gone under lace you set”. The 225 only says “vibrate alert to get you up and moving if you’ve been sitting for too long”. But I see in your review that the 225 has the features of the 220 and they added but didn’t subtract. Please tell me the 225 allows you to set a pace and it vibrates when you’ve gone under…. My hubby just walked in the door with the 225 and I hope it has that feature! I don’t want to take out of the box until I know.

    Thanks

    • Melanie

      I found it finally! The quick start manual in the box didn’t say anything about it but the online manual does. Vibrate feature is what I want so woohoo! But disregard my last comment.

      Thanks

  56. Lou

    having used the garmin 225 for a few weeks now and having done many runs with it, I am a very happy customer! every single run has been perfect. not even once have I had any bad readings/runs recorded. Im fortunate to have a flat top wrist area and I use the watch right over my wrist bone like I wore my old garmin 620 and ive had no issues. I do wear my watch snug, but not overly tight, but that’s how I wore my garmin 620 as I don’t like my watch to move when in running. so I basically can wear the new 225 exactly where and how I wore my old 620. heres a pic of todays 4 mile run as im in week 3 of my 16 week training for the nyc marathon on nov. 1. I wish the same success to all of you new garmin 225 users.

  57. philw75

    Can this be used to track activity in specific things like cardio gym classes, or when used as an activity tracker is it only good for “whole of day” activity tracking? ie can it be used for sports/activities other than running?

  58. tzoff

    Has this watch only vibration wake-up alarm?

  59. Seth

    How did you graph the 225 and the Chest strap with only smart recording as the option? Did they both happen to use the same recording points/intervals in smart recording mode?

    Trying to see if my 225 can be a standalone replacement for my Scosche, but If I don’t have the option to do 1s data collection I may just return the device.

    • In full reviews I just use Excel. But above in the post I used MyGPSFiles site.

      There’s no option on the FR225 for 1-second recording (nor do I expect there ever will be). Thus, there isn’t perfect alignment second-by-second, but they are timeline aligned.

  60. Jesper Tohr

    Thanks for the review. I have read for the second time as my friend is starting to use this. Any idea when will be the in-depth review be written? It was stated above, that will be somewhere around mid-June. Apologize if you’ve made comments above but I’ve not really read through each of them. 🙂

  61. Laura

    Ray-

    My Garmin 210 has completely failed. I went to Garmin and they could not help me. So…I’m looking at the 225 and the Vivoactive. I do swim and bike but not triathlon. I do want an activity tracker and I think the heart rate monitor would be great for me to improve my fitness. I don’t like wearing the strap.

  62. brooke

    Is the forerunner 225 compatible with the Plantronics bluetooth head phones (backbeat fit ) ?

  63. Matt

    I would like to use this for hiking. I want to monitor my heart rate and keep it within a certain range.
    So… would it work hiking in the mountains?

    Thanks in advance…

  64. Isobel CRAIB

    Hi is this watch unsuitable for cycling? Can it be used for 2 people(ie sharing the watch with my husband)

    • It can be shared, but you’ll find calorie accuracy will differ since there’s only one user profile.

      For cycling, it can work – I’m just working on analyzing a few weeks worth of cycling data on it.

  65. Stephen

    I ask this to the site, more so than to you. You’ve got plenty of other more important questions to answer. I’ve recently gotten into running and swimming and am about to start training for a triathlon. As I am reviewing watches that fit me as an entry but good long term option, I’m stumped by the lack of a particular feature.

    Why is it that virtually none of these watches offers music storage/playback to bluetooth ear pieces? I hate carrying my phone on a run but enjoy listening to music or podcasts. as cheap as internal storage is, I don’t understand why that isn’t part of any new releases. thanks!

  66. Weekend Warrior 3

    I am curious about the optical HR sensor and its performance for those that spin/cycle (ie a constricted wrist movement to some degree) and its ability to monitor HRM correctly based on the comments above. I have an older Polar RX300 with chest mounted HRM that has served me well but the H1-transmitter has begun to not transmit all the time (changed batteries, new strap etc) and I have decided to look at new watch options as the watch itself is over 3 years old. I am a runner/spinner now since the Ortho Doctor said that being a bigger guy (225lbs) and running every day is not doing my knees any favors. So any feedback from the spinners or cyclists on the Optical HR performance would be appreciated.

  67. Daniel Varinsky

    Hello,

    I already touched the theme some time before, but would like to ask again. I would really like to buy a watch and have 3 final candidates – Garmin 225 , Adidas SmartRun & Polar M400. I’d welcome a watch which has mobile notifications, plays music, is aimed mainly on running and has good interval training posiibilities, being accurate on GPS and optical HR, activity monitoring is really optional. The DC Rainmaker page (and namely comparison tool) really helped me in orientation – in this way I chose my 3 candidates :-). However, some time passed since the initial revues and firmware updates may have changed the way you look at them and the possibilities of the watches…. Thus, what is your opinion ? Which one would you recommend ? Are any firmware updates of the watches awaited that could add some functionalities ? Currently I favour the Garmin…. Or should I wait for some upcoming models (any info on this side ? 🙂 ) ? …

    Thank you,
    Daniel

    • Virtually all of the updates for each watch have been included within the comparison charts. 🙂

      If it’s music you’re after, then you’re really down to the Smart Run.

    • Daniel Varinsky

      And regardless the music ? When it comes to interval training & easibility of running out and just measuring it & exporting to a web analytical page ? 🙂 …

    • The FR225 is most flexible when it comes to interval training and general use. Whereas the Adidas unit has more options for the gym (i.e. core workouts).

      All three can export to various web platforms, but Garmin’s can automatically sync onwards to the most services natively (all three all export though).

    • Daniel Varinsky

      Thank you for your quick response….

  68. Hi All-

    Just a super quick note to let you know that I’ve published my full in-depth review of the FR225, here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    As is usual, I’ll be closing the comments section here on the preview post, and directing any questions to the in-depth review instead – just to keep things from getting confusing.

    Thanks!