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

Garmin-FR630-NewFeatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s New: The Garmin FR630:

Garmin-FR630-RunMode-1

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

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

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

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

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

Garmin-FR630-ConnectIQ-Front

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

Garmin-FR630-Stress-Score1

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

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

Garmin-FR630-RunningDynamics1

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

Garmin-FR630-RunningDynamics2

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

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

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

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

Garmin-FR630-LactateThreshold-2

Garmin-FR630-LactateThreshold

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

image

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

Garmin-FR630-BackToStart

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

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

Garmin-FR630-Navigate-BackToStart

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

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

Garmin-FR630-Audio-Alerts

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

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

Garmin-FR630-MusicControls

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

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

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

Garmin-FR230-DoNotDisturb

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

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

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

Garmin-FR630-ActivityTrackingStats

Garmin-FR630-ActivityTracking

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

Garmin-FR630-BackSide

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s New: The Garmin FR230 & FR235:

Garmin-FR230-RunModeWith-Peeps

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Garmin-FR235-OpticalSensor

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

Garmin-FR230-HR-Gauge

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

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

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

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

Garmin-FR230-Connect-IQ

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

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

Garmin-FR230-ActivityTracking (2)

Garmin-FR230-ActivityTracking

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

Garmin-FR230-Music-Controls

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

Garmin-FR230-Smart-Notifications

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

Garmin-FR230-Recovery-Advisor

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

Garmin-FR230-Race-Predictor

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

Garmin-FR230-Finish-Time

Garmin-FR230-Finish-Time3

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

Garmin-FR230-BikeModeOthers

Garmin-FR230-BikeMode

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

Garmin-FR230-DataFields-Four

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

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

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

Size & Weight Comparisons:

Garmin-FR220-FR230-FR620-FR630-Size

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

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

Garmin-FR220-FR230-FR620-FR630-Thickness

Garmin-FR220-FR230-FR620-FR630-Side

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

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

Garmin-FR620-Weight

Garmin-FR630-Weight

Garmin-FR230-Weight2

Garmin-FR220-Weight

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

Of note: New Garmin Connect Mobile:

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

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

IMG_2094 IMG_2095 IMG_2096

IMG_2098 IMG_2100 IMG_2102

IMG_2103 IMG_2105 IMG_2104

IMG_2106 IMG_2107 IMG_2108

IMG_2112 IMG_2110 IMG_2111

This new version should be available today for download.

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

Product Comparison Tables:

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

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

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 15th, 2019 @ 4:23 pmNew Window
Price$249$299$249$249
Product Announcement DateSEPT 16, 2013May 12th, 2015Oct 21st, 2015Oct 21st, 2015
Actual Availability/Shipping DateOCT 31, 2013July 2015November 2015November 2015
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB, Bluetooth SmartUSB, Bluetooth SmartUSB, Bluetooth SmartUSB, Bluetooth Smart
Waterproofing50 Meters50 Meters50 Meters50 Meters
Battery Life (GPS)10 hours7-10 hours16 hoursUp to 16 hours
Recording IntervalSMART RECORDING (VARIABLE)SMART RECORDING (VARIABLE)1-second & Smart1-second & Smart
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYes, 7 daysYes, 7 daysYesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatGreatGreat
AlertsVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUAL
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGoodGood
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoYesYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoYesYesYes
MusicGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Can control phone musicYesYes
Has music storage and playbackNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoNoYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYesYesYes
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Designed for cyclingBarely (Speed mode only)Barely (Speed mode only)YesYes
Power Meter CapableNoNoWITH SOME CONNECT IQ APPS (BUT CANNOT RECORD DATA)WITH SOME CONNECT IQ APPS (BUT CANNOT RECORD DATA)
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableNoNoYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceNoNoNo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Designed for runningYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)Yes (also has internal accelerometer)Yes (also has internal accelerometer)YES (Also has INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)YES (Also has INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNoNo
VO2Max EstimationNoNoYesYes
Race PredictorNoNoYesYes
Recovery AdvisorNoNoYesYes
Run/Walk ModeYesYesYesYes
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Designed for swimmingNo (protected though just fine)No (protected though just fine)No (protected though just fine)No (protected though just fine)
Record HR underwaterNoN/AN/AN/A
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Designed for triathlonNoNoNoNo
Multisport modeNoNoNoNo
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesYesYes
On-unit interval FeatureYesYesYesYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureNoNoNoNo
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYesYesYes
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NonONoNo
GeocachingNonONoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoYesYEs
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoNoNoNo
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoNoNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoNo
Back to startNoNoYesYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNoNo
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Altimeter TypeGPSGPSGPSGPS
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyNoYesNoYEs
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYES (ALSO INTERNAL OPTICAL HR SENSOR)YesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoYesYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNO
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNoNO
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoNoNO
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNO
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoYES FOR GARMIN VIRBYES FOR GARMIN VIRB
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNO
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)Yes
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)No
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNonONoNO
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoNoNO
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNoNO
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNoNO
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNO
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoNoNoNO
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoYES (TEMPE)YES (TEMPE)
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsNoNoTBDTBD
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressGarmin Express
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)LinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Next, we’ve got the FR620 vs FR630:

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 21st, 2016 @ 5:27 pmNew Window
Price$399$399
Product Announcement DateSEPT 16, 2013Oct 21st, 2015
Actual Availability/Shipping DateOCT 31, 2013November 2015
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYes
Data TransferUSB, WiFi, Bluetooth SmartUSB, WiFi, Bluetooth Smart
Waterproofing50 meters50 Meters
Battery Life (GPS)10 hours16 hours
Recording Interval1-second & Smart1-second & Smart
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYes, 7 daysYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatYes
AlertsAudio/Visual/VibrateAudio/Visual/Vibrate
Backlight GreatnessGreatGood
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoYes
MusicGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Can control phone musicYes
Has music storage and playbackNo
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)Noyes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYes
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Designed for cyclingBarely (Speed mode only)Yes
Power Meter CapableNoNo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceNoNo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Designed for runningYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)Yes (internal accelerometer)Yes (internal accelerometer)
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)YesYes
VO2Max EstimationYesYEs
Race PredictorYesYEs
Recovery AdvisorYesYEs
Run/Walk ModeYesYEs
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Designed for swimmingNo (protected though just fine)No (protected though just fine)
Record HR underwaterNoN/A
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Designed for triathlonNoNo
Multisport modeNoNo
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYes
On-unit interval FeatureYesYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYes
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Auto Start/StopYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesYes
Virtual Racer FeatureNoYes
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYes
Day to day watch abilityYesYEs
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNO
GeocachingNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoYes
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoWaypoints
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNo
Back to startNoYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNo
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Altimeter TypeGPSGPS
Compass TypeN/AGPS
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyNoNo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYEs
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoNO
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNonO
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoYes
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsYesTBD
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressGarmin Express
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS/AndroidiOS/Android
Ability to Export SettingsYesNo
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Amazon LinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLink
Clever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)Link
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Review LinkLinkLink

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

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

Product Availability & Pricing:

Garmin-FR230-Models

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Initial Thoughts:

Garmin-FR630-FinishRun

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shipping Status (New!):

Current as of: November 30th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phew!

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

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

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

Thanks for the support, it helps the blog here!

1,454 Comments

  1. Kaller

    Hi all & Ray !

    I have a FR230. I buy online in Hungary on November 13 and yesterday i got it 🙂

    Here is my first run with him :
    link to connect.garmin.com

    I can only recommend for all, my old FR210 go on pension 🙂

  2. Will W.

    For those that ordered through CT, I ordered a 230 bundle from CT on the 8th of this month and just got my shipment email!

  3. Nighthawk700

    I was just in my local running store to pick something up, and looked at their running watch booth. (I didn’t even realize they had one, I’m still new to this, so haven’t been in the store that much). I was surprised to see they have the 630 and the 235! (I forgot to look for the 230 as well) If I didn’t have a (now expired, but will still be honored on this order) $40 coupon applied to my back-ordered 235 at REI, I would probably have ditched them and gotten the watch here. So if you don’t have a watch on order, or want to see it, you might want to contact your local shop. (I saw it at Fleet Feet Baltimore).

  4. Adam

    Just got my shipping information from CT for the 630! Ordered on 10/21.

    • Peter

      Just ordered a marsala red 235 through Garmins Belgian website. Got conformation, they say it will take 1-3 days for processing, then 3-5 days for bringing it to my doorstep.

      However, just went back to the website, seems it is no longer available, it just states “4th quarter”. So it seems their quantities are very small indeed.

    • Michele

      On their US site, it says 1-2 weeks for the black bundle but 1-3 days for the blue bundle.

    • Rob Montgomery

      which one did you order? I ordered a midnight blue with HRM bundle first thing the morning of 10/21 and haven’t heard anything yet from CT.

  5. Sonas

    In your quick review of the Forerunner 230 it showed a screen with “other” sport, does this mean its possible to load say, walking, hiking, weights etc into the watch ?, would be cool if its possible.

    Thanks for you great work.

    Bren

  6. Joseph

    I was thinking of purchasing the FR230. I pretty much just run. I almost bought the FR220 for $199 but for $50 I felt it was worth the difference. New question: I see the higher end Fenix 2 on sale for $199. Does anyone feel it would be a better value to get a $399 watch for $199 instead of the newer tech FR230 for $249?

    • ekutter

      If all you do is run, the 230 probably is your best bet. One thing to remember, as Ray states, these older watches are unlikely to get any further updates and also don’t have the flexibility of CIQ. The 230 is just starting its life cycle and is extensible through CIQ. Further, weight/size may not be an issue for you but the difference in weight between the fenix and 220/230 is pretty amazing.

    • Chris

      The fenix 2 is a great watch for running and I was very happy with the tracks on it. I just upgraded to the 920xt, but honestly – I was happy with the fenix 2 (they fixed the chips in them about a year ago – the previous ones didn’t track well).

  7. Mike

    Did my 6th run with my Garmin 230 today and the Current Pace is way off. Average Pace and Lap Pace are spot on but Current Pace is always higher. I can run a 7:30 mile and never see anything starting with a 7 in Current Pace. Garmin is stumped and wants me to send the a video of it happening. Any thoughts?

    • Matt

      Agreed 100%. Even after the fact it looks correct (I think), but Current Pace live on the screen is consistently slow, despite average pace and mileage being spot on.

    • Mike

      Matt,

      Yes, same issue I’m having. All the data after the fact is correct but real time it’s off. Have you contacted Garmin support? I had a similar issue years ago with an older Garmin and eventually returned it, but I’m hoping this time they can fix the bug. They’re saying I’m currently the only one that’s brought up the issue.

    • Kaller

      Hi.

      I have a same problem, avarage pace is correct but, current pace is still stopping and very slow move. My Garmin FR210 current pace 1 second below changeing .
      WTF?

    • I had a fairly steady run today, so I was finally able to get a bit of a look at things on that front. I’d agree that it appeared the instant-pace was always slower, but I can’t be 100% certain of that either. Right now I’d put it in the ‘suspicious’ category for me (FR235).

    • ekutter

      I have software that computes the distance based on the speed of each data point in the .FIT file and it is coming out way short. Meaning even the speeds being recorded for each data point are slow compared to computing the speed from distance/time for those data points. I’ve been seeing a difference of about 2%.

      When I perform this same computation with a 620 data file, the difference is generally less than 100th of a percent.

  8. John

    Does the 235 collect all the information from the HR Run strap? My thought would be to utilize the 24-7 HR monitoring and use a HRM strap during my hard/interval/long runs…

    Thanks for all your great posts!

  9. Christoph

    The 235 in Black/Red is now available via Garmin’s online shop on their website. I’ve received an order confirmation, yet haven’t heard anything as to shipping status. Supposed to ship within the next 2-3 days.

  10. Gio

    I can’t get my FR230 to do 4 date fields. Only gives the option for 3. Am I missing something here?

  11. John

    UK – I finally got my hands on a FR630 this morning. For anyone else who ordered through Runners Need (UK), you have my sympathy. Runners Need have exclusivity in the UK until Nov 27th and due to a system upgrade they have had numerous issues. Lost my order, took an age to get them to respond to support requests and telephone support was abysmal. I ended up tracing my order through their parent group Cotswold Outdoor. UK customers, I’d give RN a wide berth for the time being and I’m sure Garmin UK aren’t too impressed. Hope to try out my 630 later today.

    • KevinD

      John,
      Many thanks for that. I too am in the UK and am aware of the ongoing merger as Cotswold Outdoor have taken over Runners Need and Snow and Rock.
      I am a member of the Cycling Touring Club ( CTC ), my wife is a keen cyclist and as a joint member I receive the same benefits as she does.
      One of those benefits is a 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor. This discount only applies to full priced items and not items that are already in the sale.
      When the Fenix 2 came out I was able to order it online, get 15% discount and have it delivered to my local Cotswold Outdoor branch.
      I am deliberating between the 235 and the 630. I’m waiting until Ray brings out his review and there is more hands on feedback before making my decision.

  12. Matt

    Update on FR235 Shipping — REI is shipping their first batch of Garmin 235’s today. It looks like they fixed the “put it available on the web before fulfilling backorder” problem with the past couple Garmin pre-orders.

    • Adam

      Ordered my Marsala 235 on 11/01. REI has slipped the shipping date twice now and says the watch will ship 11/30. I notice that they don’t list Marsala on their web site currently. I’m guessing these were in large demand and/or small supply.

      Hope this helps.

      Adam

    • Mark

      Ordered my black 235 this moring from heart rate monitors usa, joined VIP membership for free using code:CCVP for 10% discount and the 235 is being shipped today.

    • leo

      I have ordered the black 235 from REI on 11/11 and it shows the expected delivery date to store is 11/25. I hope it still holds the true because REI does not open on Thanksgiving day and Black Friday.

      I hope to get the 235 so I can have a test run on the watch on the Thanksgiving day morning.

      fingers crossed

    • Patrick

      I ordered from REI on 10/29 (one black/grey, and one black/red) but it’s still showing a store arrival date of 11/26. I spoke to them on the phone today and they said not to expect it the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but they had no other shipping information to pass on 🙁

    • Long Run Nick

      Thanks for info. My immediate gratification of wants had me order this from there. I have a Marsala on order from CT. Looks like into December. My oldest daughter just lucked out. When my CT order arrives she will get the black one. I won’t tell you I paid for overnight shipping, oh and don’t tell my wife.

    • Long Run Nick

      My 1129 comment was addressed to Mark. The “there” mentioned was Heartraremonitor USA . Thanks.

  13. Tomas

    I’m hard of hearing, so find it difficult to hear the “beep” when my 920XT wants to alert me, particularly if I’m listening to music even if it’s ever so low volume, and feeling the vibration is a bit of hit and miss. So I’m not really taking advantage of the watch for intervals etc. Reading that the 630 can do audio cues over my phone’s headphones made me almost want to throw the 920XT away and pre-order a 630. Almost. Not entirely.

    Is it likely that this functionality will show up as an update on the 920XT?

    As I understand it, it’s Connect Mobile that does all the clever work, so it just needs a notification from the watch. Given that the 920XT can display texts messages from the phone, I’m hoping that means the necessary hardware/firmware is already in place.

  14. Jamie Jenkins

    It looks like there are plenty of imminently waiting for verdict on the accuracy of the heart rate on the FR235.

    Obviously will still be early days when he has his unit but that review is make or break for me. I guess there are many hanging our hopes on Ray before purchasing.

    • For those interested, you’ll find some of my FR235 HR data has made its way into my just published TomTom Spark review.

      I plan a FR235 review next week.

    • Jamie Jenkins

      Cheers Ray.

      Would it be possible for the full review to compare the FR235 vs the FR225 and FR230 with HR strap?

    • Ricardo

      Hi, sorry for this probably non important question for most of the readers but I saw that the display of the 235 is bigger than the 225 and as I use glasses to read sometimes it is a little difficult to me to read the data in the watch. I use pace, heart rate and distance in the same page continuously to track my running. Is it possible that the big display will carry bigger fonts so I will read a little bit better? Wish i was in the USA, I live in Brazil and the 235 will cost around USD600. I also would like to thanks for all awesome reviews you always do, very detailed and before everybody.

    • For the majority of my tests, my setup is:

      1) Wrist #1: FR235
      2) Wrist #2: TomTom Cardio or Polar A360
      3) Upper arm: Scosch Optical sensor
      4) Chest: Garmin HRM-RUNv2
      5) Chest: Styrd HRM power strap

      So I’ve got a wide range of HR sensors worn concurrently to compare. I don’t put more than one optical sensor watch on a wrist, because that can often impact HR accuracy and wouldn’t be fair.

    • jowerg

      it’s me, or the HR monitor on the 235 seems unstable ??. I was also checking another user who posted his activity using the new 235 on garmin connect, and it doesn’t looks good in my opinion.

    • Matt

      I’ve only actually seen one Garmin Connect post with a 235 (from the referenced forum user) and it was wildly variable (from second to second). I wonder if A) they have their firmware updated; and B) whether they have the strap tight enough.

    • As of last night the current FR235 FW was 3.10 – it also lists the current FW of any activity on right side of GC.

  15. Kevin

    Here’s my quick review after about 4 days of having the Forerunner 230.

    I am really loving it at this point. The accuracy on the GPS was literally to the second on my phone GPS. The ability to keep the backlight on during a run, and a “turn wrist” option to have the back light on is great and works perfect.

    Back to start feature is a great addition, and I used it on a hike yesterday. Worked great.

    The app iq store is great and Garmin’s new app is crisp and colorful (and works lol).

    Still playing around with it but very pleased. Only thing I hope they add is the music player shows what song is playing and volume control (I was spoiled with that when I had my Pebble Time, which I returned for this watch) and I hope they make a stronger vibration , however I’ve never missed a notification from it.

    I’ve done 3 workouts with GSP totaling about 5 hours and I still have 80% battery left after 4 days.

    For $250 you are getting a lot of watch here. Some people have mentioned it feels cheap, it doesn’t to me, it feels like a running watch. Others also complained about the back light looking strange because you can see it at the bottom…lol I’ve found no problems or issues with it. It does what it’s supposed to do.

    If anyone has any questions feel free and I’ll do my best to answer in a timely manner.

    • Mike

      Kevin,

      Are you having any issues with (current) Pace appearing to lag well behind what you’re running? My 230 seems way off on Pace, so I put it and Lap Pace on the same screen. My (current) Pace would hang out in the 9’s while my Lap Pace was in the high 7s. Lap Pace was to the second what the lap would end at and the data is accurate when I upload it, but it’s way off as I run.

    • Kevin

      Hey mike!

      I have not had any issues with the pace… But I have not used lap pacing yet… To be honest I don’t really ever use it each mile that the Garman recorded was identical to what my phone had though… You could always try the good old-fashioned turn it off and then on and also make sure it’s up-to-date I have not had any issues with the pace… But I have not used lap pacing yet… To be honest I don’t really ever use it each mile that the garmin recorded was identical to what my phone had though… You could always try the good old-fashioned turn it off and then on and also make sure it’s up-to-date one

  16. Josh

    I now have my new 235 in hand, tried it on and now it’s charging. First impressions:
    love the band and general fit of the watch, much more comfortable than any previous GPS watch ive owned
    love the crispness of the screen
    no complaint at all about the buttons
    love the alligator clasp for charging, just like my suunto ambit 3 but smaller
    hoping accuracy is as good as everything else so far!!

    • Nick

      I just got mine a few hours ago, and I agree with the comfort of the band. Much better than I expected.

      But the screen, to me, is kind of a let down. In my office with lights on the screen just looks so dull and hard to read. The pixels are indeed sharp/crisp like you said, but I keep wanting to turn the brightness up like on my iPhone. I feel like I’m straining just to read the time. I hope its not the same out in the sun, having to struggle to read the data while running is kind of the whole point of the watch…
      Only time will tell I guess (pun intended).

    • Kevin

      My personal opinion this rain isn’t bad at all… When you are running you can have the backlight set to be on at all times which is really nice for when it’s dark out… And I’ve noticed no difference and battery from it

    • jowerg

      Could you post an activity using the 235 on garmin connect?

    • I’m not on a computer at moment to get GC link, but my Strava run from two days ago is on 235.

    • Nighthawk700

      Looking at your run 11/17 (with 235) and 11/18 with 630, (and presumably a HRM strap) the 235 looks a lot more, what’s the word, spikey? But not horribly so. I just (30 minutes ago) got an alert from UPS that my 235 should be delivered tomorrow. I’m looking forward to playing around with it over the weekend.

    • Yeah, 11/17 is FR235. And the 11/18 is 630 with HRM-RUNv2

      Oh, here’s GC link for those curious:
      link to connect.garmin.com (Tues FR235 run)
      link to connect.garmin.com (Weds FR630 run)

      I’d agree, I currently see the FR235 data as a bit spikey as well, as if it needs a few seconds more smoothing applied to it. Luckily, that’s an easy software thing. I know they tend to view it as a work in progress.

    • Yeah, it does look spiky!

      In other news, how do you burn over 100 calories a mile at that pace? I’m lucky if my 620 gives me 70. Maybe it has something to do with the “arctic” in the activity title. 😉

    • Usual back of the napkin math is 100cal per mile. More if you weigh more, less if you weigh less. Slightly more if super-intense (near VO2Max).

      70cal a mile for most men would seem…odd.

      (Note: Speed actually has nothing to do with it, it’s purely a function of moving mass over distance, disappointingly).

    • I’ll take “odd”!

      70 calories per mile is really all I get! I’m 5’8″ 140 pounds. Here I am running 15 miles for 1057 calories. It’s the same whether I use the 630 strap or the Mio Link:

      link to connect.garmin.com

      Maybe I’m just *that* efficient. ?

    • ekutter

      Brian, do you tend to have a low HR? If I wear a HR strap, I get similar numbers to you and I am similar size/weight. I attribute it to a generally low HR. I do have all the users settings set correctly. From VO2 max testing, I know I really burn around 100 cal/mi, or more at higher intensities. Interestingly, if I don’t have my HR strap on, my 620 gives me fairly accurate calories burned. So I think we just don’t fit their calorie burn models.

    • I’m not sure my HR is particularly low. I’m 45, and I think I max out around 172. Resting is low 40s, and sometimes I can average less than 120 on easy runs.

      I’m actually thinking the 70 calories is correct, as I’ve been tracking calories in MyFitnessPal for a couple years now, and the Garmin values seem to work. Then again, the difference is probably within the margin of error.

    • ekutter

      Those are similar to mine and definitely lower than most of the people I train with. 70 cal/mi would be very low for you. Short of having it more scientifically measured, there is no way to know for sure how accurate it is. But similarly, there is plenty of fudge factor on the calories you consume as well. Most important is if you have found a good balance between consumption and burn.

  17. Stefan G.

    One thing I am having trouble to find anywhere on the blog or anywhere is how reliable/useful the training load and recovery time data given by Polar and Garmin. As far as I am concerned, this information is potentially very useful, so i am a little surprised that there are few discussions to be found, especially now when Garmin are bringing these functions down to the 230/235 as well.

    • It’s largely because I see such weird numbers for it, and it’s so horribly inconsistent from all companies.

      For example, after today’s 45ish minute run (not that hard of a run), I got 39hrs of recovery time. Which is way too much, especially since I was off yesterday.

      I think it can provide some super-rough guidance, but that’s about it.

    • Stefan G.

      Thanks Ray,
      Thats the reply I expected, I guess its still listening to my body thats the best way.
      Unfortunately Im a bad listener.

      One more function to disregard when choosing HRM 😉

  18. Charlie

    Hello For the Parisians the FR235 will be @ le pape rue d’artois this Monday.
    I just call them.

    I am so exited !

  19. Just a quick FYI on Clever Training stock of these products:

    Now in-stock (all backorders cleared or will ship today):
    – FR230 black bundle
    – FR230 purple bundle
    – FR230 yellow base
    – FR630 (all versions)

    The website will reflect this momentarily. All new orders of the above versions will ship same-day (assuming order is before cutoff time).

    In addition, there are further units on the way for arrival next week (FR230/235’s/630’s)

    Thanks for the support!

    • Jason

      Thanks Ray Man! I got my shipping confirmation from Clever today for the 230 B/W. Looking forward to testing it out.

    • Ukrunner

      Hi ray,
      I need to get a new watch asap and this is due out in UK this coming week. 235 was first choice but slightly concerned by reports of inaccurate instant pace and heartrate.
      Will you have your full review up before Friday.

    • Yes, I’ll have my FR230/235 review up mid this upcoming week.

  20. Josh

    First run done with 235.
    1) instant pace adjusted almost immediately, spot on throughout my 5k run.
    2) HR was extremely stable, higher and lower in the same spots as my old chest strap or rhthym+
    3) distance and tracks look great
    4) couldn’t be more pleased.

    • JJ

      Can you post the garmin connect link to your run Josh?

    • Josh

      If I knew how to then yes I’d be happy to do so :).

    • Gunnar

      I did a run yesterday as well with my 235 and I’m pleased with the optical HRM, GPS etc. I ran a route that I’ve done 50+ times with a multitudes of Garmin devices and it tracks well. The optical HR was comparable to my Scoshe optical HR.

      It syncs instantly and painlessly. This is actually the first Garmin device I’ve owned that has worked as advertised out of the box. Very impressed and I LOVE the 24/7 HR monitoring. It’s a great way to monitor resting HR.

  21. Keyan

    With the 235 is there a way to help you track other exercises other than running?

  22. De Pina

    I will be receiving my FR 235 on Monday and I have been searching the web to find out if the 24/7 HR monitoring will be used to count calories or any other metrics. Does anyone know if the 24/7 HR monitoring will be used for counting calories?

    Thanks!

  23. Alex

    I think this is the fastest I’ve ever ordered running gear after reading a preliminary review on DCRainmaker. I ordered it from Clever Training (the discount helps, after all!) and I just got the 230 in the mail today. I’ll be taking it out for a run tomorrow but I did have a question I’m wondering if somebody could help with:

    In the review, there’s a photo that shows an activity labeled “Bike Indoors.” However, my watch has only Run, Run Indoors, Bike, and Other among the activities. I looked in System Settings to see if another activity had somehow been hidden but that’s not the case. Odd, particularly as I’ll be using the trainer in the winter months and it would be nice to have a separate Activity for when biking without GPS.

    • Weird. I don’t see it either, seems to be cut. Odd, I’ll ask why.

    • Alex

      Ah, so it’s not just me. I was starting to feel left out. 🙂 Could it be that it was left out of final production units vs the early unit you had evaluated? Strange as this will mean having to turn off GPS manually every time I use the trainer.

    • Apparently so. Seems like a weird oversight. I’ll poke.

    • Bing

      It looks like it’s not enabled by default and you need to dig through “Menu” to enable it.

      For my 235, I hit the top right button to reach the activities. Then down button to enter Menu. Scroll down to Settings, then to Activity Profiles. Then scroll to Bike Indoor and toggle “Show”.

    • Alex

      I had done precisely that (several times, in fact) but Bike Indoors doesn’t show up as an option to show. Just Run, Run Indoors, Bike and Other.

    • Yup, same as Alex for me – it’s really just missing the Bike Indoors option in those settings, which is super weird since it used to be there.

    • Tim Grose

      Don’t remember seeing Bike Indoor and it is not on the 630 although you can create your own on there.
      When I went to the gym the other day and used a Wattbike, I just turned off GPS in Bike profile although I think if you pair to the cadence/speed sensor it would override GPS anyway for speed and distance.

    • Alex

      As long as the 230 works with Garmin’s Cadence and Speed magnet-less bike sensors (good review, by the way, Ray!) which I just placed an order for, it’ll just be a weird oversight on Garmin’s part. Some of their software decisions are a little hard to understand sometimes.

  24. bman

    Just received my 230 from CT! I’m looking for the Virtual Partner/Racer option, but can’t seem to find it in the Activity Settings. Any one know where this feature is hiding?

    • Tim Grose

      Afraid the 230 does not have that. The 630 does however.

    • bman

      On the garmin site the specs say it does, so I’d be really disappointed if this is true. This is one of the reasons I decided to go with the 230/

    • The Garmin site specifies Virtual Pacer, which is slightly different actually than Virtual Partner.

      For Virtual Racer, weird, the Garmin.com site does list it currently, but I’d agree, it’s not showing on my FR235 on my wrist. Nor was it something I’ve said is a feature either. Grab them screenshots while you’ve got them! Though, it’s something that we have discussed a lot in the comments as being confusing since launch (and I never received clarification on it).

  25. Stefan G.

    Thanks Ray,
    Thats the reply I expected, I guess its still listening to my body thats the best way.
    Unfortunately Im a bad listener.

    One more function to disregard when choosing HRM 😉

  26. Stefan G.

    I had planned to go for an M400, but after long problems with synching my Loop (and a bit disappointed with Polar CS feedback) I am beginning to doubt that decision. Ill wait for comments on the 235 optical HRM reliability first.
    When I tried M400 i also feel that its not a good fit, the idea of molding the strap right into the housing might not be the best way to ensure fit-for-all, 230-235s normal watch strap approach seems better in that regard, even if i prefer the Polar look.
    Also get the impression that Garmins app and web service now outperform polar, but hasnt tried it yet.
    Guess I am still on the fence here.

  27. chuck dee

    As always AWESOME review, Thank You. Forgive me if this is already been asked but with 1,175 comments I can’t keep track. When usb charging during an ultra does it continue to track or shut off?
    Thanks

  28. Excuse my noob question,
    what are those red bars on the left edge of the main screen ?

  29. George & Thessaloniki

    Spoiled by technology, 235 amazing watch, data recording data: smart is better! I went for a run by Aristoteles School here in Northern Greece, and I think the wrist-based optical heart rate sensor is precise. The wrist turn for the backlight = not just yet. But, can you imagine what we are about to see in 20 years from now?

    • Tim Grose

      Wrist turn to turn on the backlight works reasonably well for me on a 230 and 630. Are you suggesting it does not for you?

  30. Antonio

    Hello, Could you tell me how many data fields you can set per custom page in the Forerunner 630 please?

  31. Dennis Stenger

    Ray,

    as with the latest update to the Fenix3 the new Running dynamics are also available on the Fenix,… I would totally appreciate it, if you would be so nice to post a few pictures of a FR630 and a Fenix 3 side by side.

    Thank you.

  32. Gray584321

    Has anyone tried to use any of the 630/230/235 with the garmin tri or garmin swim heart rate sensors? I am curious to know if garmin allowed them to work with the new watches.

  33. Michele

    Does the 630 have the connect button that the 620 did if you missed the wifi upload?

  34. marcos carvalho

    hi, will the fr230 be able to control spotify and other 3rd party apps for listenning to music?
    regards

  35. Phil

    Hi, about the grounding needed for the touch screen. This may be a derp question but is the grounding requirement a permanent part of the hardware design or is this something that can be disabled via software update so that grounding is not required of the touch screen. I was running today and had trouble getting the touch screen to react to my finger (even with the watch around my wrist).

    • Tim Grose

      Not sure but I understand we may see software updates for the touchscreen to try and improve the experience. Also what general software release are you on? Is it the latest 3.10?

  36. Alberto

    Hi Ray (and everybody).

    I have a TomTom MultiSport Cardio but I am going to sell it and I will buy other watch with that money and extra money. I use to run (40%) and go to gym (45%) and sometimes I swimm in swimming pool (10%) and few times I ride indoor bike (5%). What would you recommend? I am interested on Garmin Forerunner 230, 235, 630 and 920xt. I thought about TomTom Spark but it does not support training program (and intervals workout sucks on TomTom)… and I prefer Garmin Connect rather than MySports.
    What is the difference between Forerunner 630 and 920xt? Because the 630 is newer but I think 920xt has much more features (the only one present on 630 is the temp recording). It’s weird: 630 is more expensive but it has less features.

    And last question: what are the differences between the new HRM-RUN strap (630) and the previous one (920)?

    Thanks and regards.

    • Tim Grose

      Probably depends on the importance of the swim part to you as, of those, only the 920 supports swimming. Then only the 235 does optical HR if that is important. Then the 230 is the cheapest if budget is an issue. Then only the 630 has touchscreen. The main difference between a 920 and a 630 is the size and touchscreen and the fact the 920 is a true multi-sport device whereas the 630 is a runner’s watch that has basic support for other things. The cost is probably related to the size, touchscreen and the amount of development for the advanced running features like the new running dynamics and the lactate threshold feature. As such the 630 might not be value for money if those features are of limited interest.

    • Tim Grose

      PS main difference between the new HRM-Run strap and the older is that the module is not detachable on the new one but is considered by most to be more comfortable and easier to adjust. With the software update either will work just as well.

  37. Good news and bad news – My order of a black Forerunner 630 with heart rate transmitter bundle arrived earlier this week and it’s fantastic. The new heart rate strap is outstanding (I’m coming from a 620 with the previous version of the HRM-RUN). The bad news is that I cannot get my 630 to pair with the foot pod I was using with my 620. The instructions say to hold it close to the watch and it will pick it up and ask to pair, but the 630 just doesn’t see it. I tried all the battery tricks in the book. What’s up? Anyone else with a 630 and a foot pod?

    • Tim Grose

      Yes have paired my 630 to a foot pod. It can be tricky to initially pair as you suggest. I recall I took my 630 off, walked along so the foot pod was definitely “awake” and waved the 630 as near to the foot pod as I could and then it worked. Need to be in Settings, Sensors & Accessories while doing this of course.

    • Michele

      Glad to hear the HR strap is better than the old one. I’m curious though, if the 630 does not get pace from the footpod, is there a reason to use it? Is the cadence on the foot pod more accurate than from the HRM? I was planning to not use the footpod anymore.

    • Thanks for the tip. I’ll give it another go but I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with either my foot pod or my 630. I unpaired the foot pod from y 620 and then turned everything off and paired it again with the 620 and no problem whatsoever. Hmmm…

    • Tim Grose

      At the moment, the foot pod is only useful on a treadmill (or indoor track). Cadence from the HRM-Run is better (and used in precedence) than a foot pod which only does “even” cadence values not each foot that the HRM-Run does. Maybe the 630 will see an option to use pace from a foot pod instead of GPS in due course but yeah at the moment little point wearing it outdoors. Even if it does get that pace from foot pod option, I never bother although some swear by it.

    • Also, the reason I use the foot pod is for running indoors on the treadmill. I find it much more accurate than the built-in accelerometer-based estimate of pace and distance when the GPS is off.

    • Tim Grose

      The initial pairing range on these new devices definitely seems shorter than say the 620 which wasn’t that great itself. Somebody on the Garmin forums reported a similar issue to you and think was on the point of taking it back to be exchanged. I would try again as I suspect it could just be the way it is.

    • Update: Tech Support determined it was a problem with the forerunner 630. They are sending me a new one. Seems there’s a couple of people on the forums too with similar issues.

  38. Josh

    Ray, or others, I went back and checked over the data from my first run with my 235. I noticed my mile splits were as follows: 8:08.6, 7:42.8, 7:39.5.
    When i move my mouse over the pace graph in GC something strange happens. Not once in my second mile did I run as fast as 07:42/mi, and not once in mile 3 did I run as fast as 07:39/mi (I did however run about 5-15 seconds slower than the split time). So, knowing that instant pace was really really stable during my run, that my tracks were rock solid, that my HR was spot on, what’s the deal? It could be that I’m completely missing something very obvious which could be attributed to a very late night at an incredible concert last night featuring the remaining traveling members of the Grateful Dead.

    • Tim Grose

      I think there is an issue with current pace on these 3 devices at present as, on my 230 or 630, I sometimes see slower current pace than lap pace and/or current pace on my 920. Was there much tree cover (or similar) on your run? It works better for me when there isn’t and vice versa.

    • Josh

      Negative on the tree cover. Just my usual running with a few trees here and there. I could understand the instant pace issue but then that would mean the pace shown in the graph of GC that you can scroll thru is instant pace data? When I think of instant pace data I think about the smoothed data you find displaying on the watch vs the graph you see in GC.

    • Tim Grose

      The watch records the current pace in each data point so what you see on GC in the pace graph should be what you see on the watch for current pace – whether “correct” or not. Well that’s what I have found. Do you believe your lap splits? I have found my lap splits to be accurate and match my 920 almost exactly.

    • Josh

      I’ll run with my Ambit 3 tomorrow which is regularly spot on and report back. Hoping this is a quick software fix.

    • Dan

      We are everywhere!

    • Long Run Nick

      Hey Josh, why is current pace so important to you, and I will add others, that seem to be frustrated with the read outs from current pace as you run? I have found using lap pace works great. I admit, that when I got serious about running 40 years ago, I would go to the track and run laps. I never new the exact pace of each step, but when I completed a lap I knew the time(using a pretty large hand-held stopwatch).
      I find it interesting that average finish time for marathons is a lot slower now even with all the data that we can get from our watches. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the new data, metrics, etc., but we have taken a pretty simple thing, running,and maybe have made it more complicated than it has to be.
      With more than 83,000 miles run, and over 500 races(1 mile to 50+ milers), I am very fortunate to still be running- 40-50 miles a week at age 72. I know smart people don’t need advice, and dumb people don’t heed it, but I have found that learning to enjoy the journey, and be in the moment, slowing down and making a commitment to myself to run the rest of my life, regardless of pace is working for me.

    • Josh

      Nick, All of your comments are valid. There are days I ditch the watch and just go run. However, when Im pacing for a BQ or other goal, instant pace is, well, important.
      Today’s run (4 miles) with Ambit 3 and 235 next to each other, 22 degrees light wind:
      Distance within .02 miles of each other, 235 finishing after Ambit 3.
      HR: Rhythm + paired to A3, usual awesomeness. 235, pretty good only 1 spike of about 10 BPM higher than normal on a usual long long hill i run.
      Pace. Ambit 3 very smooth, love Fused Speed. 235, instant pace regularly 15-40 seconds SLOWER than both the A3 and the 235 LAP PACE. halfway into the run i simply switched my screen to lap pace, first time ive ever really run by this metric. Honestly, I loved it. So, no longer really concerned about instant pace. But if garmin can fix this issue sure would be nice because the watch is just awesome, excited for all of you waiting on yours!

    • Kermit262

      Yep, running with lap pace is the way to go. All of my workouts are structured around this (or HR) and I find it works great. Seems if you want to run by instant pace you need a foot pod.

    • Jamie Jenkins

      Is it possible to use Connect IQ to get say the pace of the last 5 or 10 seconds?

    • ekutter

      Yep, there already are CIQ fields that let you show the average pace on a configurable number of seconds.

    • Tim Grose

      Agree that lap pace is my preferred way to pace myself on longish runs but current pace always has its place especially if you suddenly change pace from some reason. Current pace from GPS works pretty well on my 920, jury still out on the 230/235/630.

    • Josh

      One would think that instant pace from footpod should become available on this watch, any thoughts Tim?

    • Tim Grose

      Think there is a reasonable chance – in time – just like the 920 recently got it. Whether though would be just the 630 or the other two as well is equally uncertain at this time!

    • Nighthawk700

      Tim said ” but current pace always has its place especially if you suddenly change pace from some reason.”

      For me, I had been doing training based on time, e.g. Run 8 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat. But as far as I’ve been able to find so far, laps can only be specified by distance, not time, so there becomes a disconnect and I’ll depend more on the current pace for now. The other thing I have to get used to, when using Endomondo on my phone, it would say “Pace last lap, 9:30.” With the FR235, it only seems to be able to give the time it took to do the last lap. “Lap 5, 2:15.”

      As for why I didn’t look at the lap pace on my FR, apparently I messed up when I started my run, I had hoped to use “Single Run Field v2” on one data screen, and have the second be full of lap data fields. But then I chose a Workout plan (the 8 min 1 min), and it didn’t give me the data screens I was expecting. It was my first time using a Forerunner, so I’m still on the bottom of the learning curve looking way up. 🙂

    • Tim Grose

      You can do Intervals (setup on the watch) or a Workout (setup in Garmin Connect) and specify a time for each step (e.g. your 8 min example). Lap pace for that is then the average pace so far in that 8 mins etc etc

    • ekutter

      Given that this is primarily a runners watch (more so than the 920) and the many purpose of accurate speed are speed workouts more likely done by pure runners, it seems like it would make more sense with the 630 than the 920. So hopefully they will use common sense and bring it to the 630.

  39. Hi,

    I managed to score a 235 in Canada at Sport Chek on Friday. So far so good!

    What setting would you recommend for indoor sports such as ultimate frisbee or indoor soccer? Should I track as a run or something else? Also, should I use the auto pause feature for these types of activities?

    My only real complaint is that the display is not as vibrant and colourful as the box makes it out to be.

  40. Paul Allen

    Can any 235 owner check if the music controls also control the likes of Spotify, Podcasts, Tunein, Audible, Stitcher, or is it purely the Apple music app?

    I hear the vivoactive only lets you control the iOS music app which sucks, seeing as both my old Pebble and Misfit Flash allow me to control whichever audio device is playing. Pebble even showed tracks etc on the watch.

  41. Gunnar

    First ride with the 235.

    235 on left wrist. Scosche optical HRM on upper right arm sending data to my edge 520. Not great data from the 235 while mountain biking. Reads much lower then my Scosche. Doesn’t bother me too much because I mostly use my 520 for cycling data and I probably could have tried the watch further up my wrist and possibly tighter and had better results.

    The 235 worked well on my run, so that’s a good thing. GPS seems spot on too.

    Funny thing about “broadcast” mode for HR. You can only have the “broadcast” screen visible while broadcasting and you can’t lock the watch while on that screen.

    Also, I’m at 23% battery after taking it off the charger at 100% Friday at 8am. I’ve done one 30 min. run and a two hour mountain bike ride since then. So I’m pretty happy with that.

    • Gunnar

      Above screen shot is my edge 520 data. Here’s the 235 data from the same ride.

    • Gunnar

      Sorry. Here’s the 235 data

    • Jamie Jenkins

      Have they got the broadcast mode for the FR235 working from the first firmware?

      Have an edge 1000 so would like to send HR to that.

    • Jamie Jenkins

      Have you got any screenshots of the FR235 for running

    • Tim Grose

      So is that a total fail from the 235? Average HR 110 but 134 with your Scosche.

    • Gunnar

      For me not a total loss for the 235 as I use my edge 520 when cycling. The main appeal for me with the 235 is the 24/7 HR, increase in battery life over the Vivoactive and solid optical HR for running (which it does well for me).

      I just did the test to see how the 235 faired on a ride. Next ride I’ll try it tighter and further up my arm, maybe even under my sleeve (to block out light).

      The broadcasting of HR is funny, they fact you can’t broadcast your HR to another device and also start an activity on the 235 seems like an oversight.

    • Tim Grose

      Did you wear it differently on the run to the bike then?

    • Gunnar

      Tim,
      Nothing different placement wise for my run. Didn’t tighten the strap for the run, just kept it as I do for everyday use.

      I think I remember Ray saying something about optical HR not performing well on rough surfaces (cobbles on the road, or rough surface while MTBing). Maybe he can chime in on this?

      My run was through twisty, rooty trails….hence the slow pace (that plus I’m slow anyway!) but the data you see matches the many other runs I’ve done on the exact course.

    • Gunnar

      Here’s the 235 run data

    • Jamie Jenkins

      It does still look very spikey that heart rate chart. Have you got a screenshot of a similar run on a strap.

      This was my run last week on the FR225. Not as spikey but that may be the firmware smoothing it out.

    • Lutz

      Hi Gunnar, how did Garmin Connect cope with the double acitivites from the FR535 and the Edge 520? I’m going to have exactly the same setup and plan to use the FR 235 to replace my heart rate strap when on the bike. So both devices would record the same bike session and upload to Garmin Connect. I’m afraind that could create some confusion in Garmin Connect though.

    • Gunnar

      You just end up with two activities on Garmin Connect. I just delete one after the workout. I like seeing two workouts so I can compare devices before I delete from GC.

      Also, two pieces of data are good in case of failure in one device.

    • Gunnar

      Jamie,
      Here’s a run on the same route with my Scosche and Vivoactive. You’re right about the 235 looking more “spikey”. Not too big a deal for me as long as I’m getting decent real time HR and accurate average HR.

      As Ray mentioned, Garmin can hopefully smooth out the data.

    • Lutz

      Thing is, I would also end up with two activities in Strava, as GC syncs instantly. Do you think it’s possible to just broadcast HR data from the FR 235, and not creating an workout activity simultaneously?

    • Tim Grose

      I presume you would just discard the 235 activity rather Save it if you did not want two.

    • Guur

      Strava hasn’t been double posting recently (for me anyway) it just takes whatever syncs first with GC and considers the second activity a double and doesn’t post it.

  42. Jan Aniolek

    Hi, after reading through all the posts I am still not sure on two issues, is any of the three watches capable of getting instant pace from footpod (I assume all ant+ footpods should work, right?)?
    The other question is, can the 235 be paired with an external hrm (say scosche rhythm+) just as a backup for now if it comes out that the built in still needs some polishiing by garmin?
    Thanks.

  43. Pietro

    Hi,
    Has anyone tested Finish Estimator functionality?I am interested how it works, taking into account the problem of current pace?

  44. Korto45

    What about finish estimator functionality? Does it work?

    • Tim Grose

      Yes! I tried it in a half marathon race this week. The only “problem” is if your device measures slightly different to the officially measured distance which, almost always, it will do. Bit it was near enough – with 4 miles to go it forecast 81 mins and that’s what I got…

    • Korto45

      Ok, thanks.It shows a remaining time to goal or the estimated time of activity?

    • Tim Grose

      Ray actually has a picture of it further up. It has Distance to go/Estimated finish time/Average pace

    • Korto45

      Yes, of course.Sorry , I did not notice it. Thanks.

  45. Ricardo

    Finally I placed an order for the 235 in the Nike online shop which have a unique & special color black/volt
    I use the 225 and there are some odd peaks when you don’t strap it properly.
    I love the 225 and I am so excited to get this 235 and all its new features

  46. Jon

    I ordered a 235 and should get it by next week. But I do have a question regarding the 24/7 hrm. Does it factor in to my activity tracking calories? Does it graph out my heart rate in GC for the entire day?

  47. Mark

    I just received my 235. Overall I am very happy. However, one of the main attractions for the watch was the Virtual Racer / Virtual Partner feature. This was advertised as being present on the Garmin website. However, upon purchase, these features are absent. There is also no mention of these features in the owners manual. It is very disappointing and may lead to me returning the watch.

  48. Mark

    Hi Jenkins,
    The specifications for the 235 on the Garmin product page clearly state that Virtual Racer is included. This however does not appear to be the case.

    • Chris

      Thanks for that info Mark – that was one of the things I was on the fence about when I bought the 920xt over the 235 and was waiting on the HR values to flush out. I appreciate letting us know it’s absent because I agree, Garmin said it would be there…

  49. Candy

    Ordered two black 235s from REI on Nov 14th and received a shipping notice this morning.

    • Long Run Nick

      Aside from my CT order from 10/27, my immediate gratification of wants got the best of me, so I ordered a 235 from HeartratemonitorUSA around 5PM East coast time on 19 Nov. Received my watch around 4PM on 20 Nov., of course overnight shipping was a must. Expendable income is nice.
      Have run 3 runs with it (total of 25.5 miles), very accurate HR on my runs/ GPS tight. I love it. Only negative-minor one- battery gets eaten pretty quick. I have been using 24/7 HR, BT on all the time, notifications on. I run about 1-2 hours a day and looks like re-charge every 2 -3 days. No big deal though, I have gotten in a habit years ago with these devices to clean/ dry and place on the charger daily prior to my shower and primping. Seems a little slow on charging, about 25% re-charge in 40 minutes. Who is OCD?

    • Lenard Lesser

      Thanks Nick. The battery life concerns me. My wife will occasionally run a long 12 hour race. I called Garmin to see if the optical sensor could be turned off to increase battery life. They weren’t sure. Can you see if there is an option for that? I’m wondering if that would extend the life to 16 hours like the other models?

    • You can turn off the optical HR sensor, but I haven’t tried a test to see what that’d do battery-wise (I’ve only got one FR235 at the moment, and am mostly trying all the other features for the review, so hard to leave aside for 16hrs).

    • Lenard Lesser

      It would be a tricky test to do. Maybe a 1 hour training test would work:
      Charge battery to full, use for 1 hour training with sensor. See how much battery left.
      Repeat without sensor.
      But I’m sure you have a better idea.

  50. Peter

    My forerunner 235 just arrived today, so I felt morally obliged to take it out for a first half an hour run in order to be able to explain to my wife why I replaced my Tomtom Multisport Cardio with yet another expensive watch ;-).

    First impressions are very good. I like how it feels around my arm, feels better than the sweaty plastic with Tomtoms watch (although that one was by no means bad). It is incredibly light. It doesn’t have to be too very tight in order to get a good HR reading. The heartrate values I saw today are what I expected to see and similar to Tomtoms reliable readings on the cardio that I used to get.

    I like the fact of being able to see four data fields: I want current heartrate, timer, distance and average pace to be visible at all times, now I can see all those values in one screen. I tire easily, and having to push buttons to access another screen is even more tiring, the only buttonpress I want during my runs is the button to end the suffering ;-). Leggibility of the screen is very good during workouts, although in day to day use it is not as bright as expected.

    One odd thing happened during my first run. When I got the watch, I went outside and turned it on in order for it to find a first GPS signal. Then I answered the questions on the watch (weight, …) and put the units to metric (km). However, when I connected to garmin connect I noticed it said “miles” in the settings, so I changed it to km and resynced. But when I started running I noticed that distance was in miles nonetheless, and pace in min / mile. Not so nice, as I don’t fancy multiplying by 1,609344 :-). Funny enough, it kept on giving me autolaps every 1k, or rather, every 0.62 miles. Have now reset all units to metric on the watch, let’s see whether it will remain that way.

    I couldn’t find any virtual racer / virtual pacer, although that feature is listed on Garmins website. There is a finishing time estimation screen though, which I find interesting for use during the humble 5k races in which I participate.

    What else can I say? GPS fix is very very quick, heartrate gets easily detected,…

    Overall, very happy with it so far and I suppose that will increase once I get used to the possibilities and learn to find my way in Garmins menu structure.

  51. Michele

    Ray, there are some comments in the garmin forums that the touchscreen is finicky with gloves, not just swiping the data screens but accessing the menu is tough even with bare hands. I know you showed using your sleeve in the video and it lagged a bit. Have you had issues with the touchscreen so far?

    • Yeah, it’s been a bit more finicky for me now (with gloves) than it was in that one-off video. Trying to figure it out a bit…

    • ekutter

      I’m guessing it is capacitive like cell phones rather than resistive. This would be unfortunate.

    • Michele

      I would hope not, mine would be going back. Didn’t they have one a few years back that was like that and was a failure? I think it was a 400 version? You had to press the bezel?

    • Michele

      Looks like you are right. I just gave Garmin a call and asked and the guy couldn’t get the screen to work unless he used gloves that had the special tip on the finger. At least it is good to know before I tried it and couldn’t return it. Very disappointing, I would have bought the 620 while it was on sale. Guess I will stick with my 610 until they come out with the next model.

    • Let me loop back with them again on it. It’s something we had extensive conversations about at launch, based on concerns of others. So I’m a bit perplexed why it’s gone backwards a bit (given I also showed it without issue earlier).

      On my to-do list…

    • Michele

      I got mine today and tried out my various running gloves/mittens. All of my gloves worked, even ones that don’t work on my phone. My fleece mittens also worked although they worked better to tap than swipe.
      I agree with the other comments that the screen is very dim and the backlight doesn’t make a big difference.

  52. TJ

    On the 630, how does one change to show 4 data fields? The navigation is not so intuitive, and I’m unable to find how to get that done to match what I used to do on my old Garmin. Thanks! Great info here!

  53. Joey

    Regarding the Garmin 235.. Do you still need to wear the watch “above” the wrist bone to get an accurate HR reading? I’m one of the few people, apparently, that wear watches past the wrist bone (more towards the hand, right where the wrist pivots). I may lean towards the 230 and get the Scosche rhythm arm band if this is still the case with Optical HR watches.

    • Gunnar

      For the 2 runs I’ve done, my watch was right over my wristbone, close to the wrist and I had good HR data. For my MTB ride, data was no so good.

  54. Ryan

    Got my 235 from CleverTraining yesterday. Haven’t gone for a run yet (Cardio tomorrow morning and 5 mile turkey trot on thursday).

    I currently use a FitBit ChargeHR as my prior fitness tracker. Wore both of them today as I decide if I want to wear the 235 as my only device (I still like wearing normal watches). The 235 came in about 10% less on the steps than the FitBit. Distance was pretty close

    FitBit
    Steps – 11,380
    Distance – 5.14 miles
    Calories – 2,641
    Heart Rate – Resting 52bpm

    ForeRunner 235
    Steps – 10,336
    Distance – 5.1 miles
    Calories – 2,360
    Heart Rate – Resting 38bpm (even though my low was 50, high 125). Figure this might take a few days to give an accurate figure. The charts look pretty similar.

    Smart Notifications work great. Got the accuweather minute cast app on. Very comfortable strap, and the watch is a pretty good size

    • Stefan G.

      Thanks for this post Ryan, I’m currently in a bind on how to move on. Until now been using polar Flow on iOS with H7, and Polar Loop as tracker, alternating with FitBit Beat HR. I actually put the Charge aside some weeks ago when I got The Loop as a gift.

      What i wanted to ask is, how do you compare the Optical HRM in the devices? Had you updated the Charge HR to the new firmware released today with they claim will improve the HRM of the Charge?
      I am looking into the FR235, but in design of both watch and web interface i prefer polar (gamins app is probably better though) so i on the fence between M400 and FR235..

    • Ryan

      Stefan,

      Today was my first day with both on, and I only did weightlifting this morning so not a great test for the Optical HRM. I will be doing a treadmill run tomorrow, and have the newest firmware on the ChargeHR and FR235, so will do my best to get a comparison of the two results.

    • Stefan G.

      Thanks Ryan,
      I’m looking forward to the comparison. The Charge HR will always only be an Activity monitor to me, but its very useful to hear a comparison and see how well Garmins HRM is working. Using a Chest strap is not an inconvenience to me, I don’t feel it when working out and putting it on and connecting is just a minor part of the whole getting dressed for exercise routine, but all in all the FR235 seems as a strong alternative to M400, and convenient when travelling.

    • Stefan G.

      Had a light 30 min on the stationary bike, with Charge HR and PolarLoop/H7. Never exceeded 130bpm and Fitbit tracked within a few bpm compared to Polar.

      It did however take ca 8 minutes before it got up to speed so i’m not very impressed yet wit the update. As far as I am concerned its not a reliable training companion, just a activity tracker – but thats also how its marketed so I cant complain.

  55. Eric

    I’ve read through the comments, and can’t find a definitive answer on whether the FR235 actually comes with the following features, neither of which I’ve been able to locate on the device:

    1. Back to Start.
    2. Four-field display.

    I just received the device a few days ago, and I think I’ve been pretty good about poking around methodically. But I can’t find either feature. What am I missing? Are these features that you have to download via Connect IQ? Or are they preloaded apps? (Some comments suggest the test model may have features that the production model does not.)

    Thanks!

    • Matt

      The 235 has both.

      1. Back to Start. Start an activity, move from your original location, press and hold the “Up” button, select back to start.

      2. Four field. Go into an activity type, “Run” for example. on the first page, press “Down” for menu. Then hit “Activity Settings”, the “Data Screens”, then “Screen 1”, the “Layout”, then hit up/down until you get to 4 fields. You can then customize those fields.

    • Eric

      Awesome! Thanks, Matt. I will check these out when I get home tonight. Much appreciated.

  56. John

    I tested the 235 on the treadmill last night, and it didn’t work that well. I set the treadmill to 8:34 pace and planned to run only 3 miles at the same pace. The 235 (set to Run Indoor) had trouble matching the treadmill’s pace. The watch clocked the first mile at 9:11, the second at 8:44, and the the third at 8:41. So the 235 had me getting to 3 miles about 50-something seconds slower than the treadmill. Maybe the treadmill is slower than advertised, but I can’t figure out why the pace would vary for each mile on the 235. I’m guessing a footpod would help, but the watch is billed as not needing one. And I can’t see the value in the feature if it will *eventually* get to the right pace, but takes several miles to get there. Anyone experience anything similar? I should note that this is my first time testing a running watch against the treadmill.

    • Not sure how long you’ve had it, but keep in mind that Garmin watches ‘learn’ your indoor running style while outdoors on GPS runs. It’ll usually take a run or few at varying paces to learn your arm swing motions. In general, for best accuracy you’ll want to ensure you wear the watch on the same wrist indoors as outdoors.

    • Duane Deters

      My experience with treadmills is the first mile is always slower than the pace you have dialed in simply because it takes some time to reach that pace. Also keep in mind that TM are not necessarily accurate to distance. Can’t say that makes for a 30 second difference, just my two cents.

  57. De Pina

    Any experienced any chips on the FR335?

    • leo

      it looks like you might have bumped to some hard surface and chipped it. if you found it out like that out of the box, i would go to return it.

    • Kevin

      Ouch. No I haven’t experienced this and I agree it looks like you banged your wrist into something pretty good. How’d it happen? Sadly judging by the quality of the plastic bezel I assume this wouldn’t be hard to do.

  58. Josh

    just finished 3rd run with 235, a nice 5 miler at avg 8/mi pace. distance tracks lap pace all looked good. had 4-5 HR spikes out of nowhere, didnt happen in first two runs. very disappointed to see this. hr stayed 10-15BPM too high for a bit, another time it went from 145 up to 183 then hung in the 170s then back to 150 finally. not a good day for HR data on the 235. Ray, thoughts please?

    • Mark

      I have been on 3 runs with my 235. I have experienced a few hr spikes out of no where also but not too badly. My issue is after each run the hr screen on my watch shows a high hr of x, which I feel is fairly accurate, but then when I look at the run on GC it shows a max hr for the run at a higher hr (10-15 beats higher). Anybody else have this issue?

  59. Mike

    Earlier this afternoon, I received shipping notice from Clever Training. I ordered the black/gray model on Oct 30th (late afternoon). So, it looks like they received their 2nd shipment from Garmin.

  60. Jon

    Just got a shipment notification for my black 235 from Clever Training. I ordered on 11/16!

  61. Matthias VdB

    I’m interested in buying the Forerunner 230, mainly for registration and analysis of my cycling training sessions and races, with occasional/regular running sessions in between (therefore I’m not considering the Edge series). The VO2 max estimate and recovery advise functions look appealing to me, but even though the 230 has a cycling mode, these functions are always associated to running in the review and the specs. So I’m wondering if these functions can also trustfully used for cycling?

  62. Just as a quick FYI for those with Clever Training orders…

    As of today, they have in-stock all FR230, FR235, & FR630 variants except the Frosty the Snowman FR235 color. And even that one, they’re only backordered the three people who ordered their watch yesterday (sorry!).

    All but three Frosty’s should ship out today, or at worst tomorrow morning (massive shipment just came in today). So be on the lookout for shipping confirmations.

    Enjoy!

    • Adam

      Yup. Just ordered half an hour ago. Marshall. Easy sneezy — except the 10% off coupon wouldn’t work. Not a biggie.

      Adam

      P.S. — Though I ordered Marsala, the image on the order form was frosty. I think it’s probably okay.

    • Hi Adam-

      Thanks for the support! Note that the coupon code won’t work on the FR230/235/630, due to Garmin restriction. However, the CT/DCR VIP* program does work and still saves 10% (and supports Girls On The Run). Cheers!

      *Http://www.dcrainmaker.com/vip

    • Sagar

      Thanks Ray! Got my 235’s shipment notification from CT as well though the tracking number is yet to update on the Fedex site. Bit disappointed to hear that they’ve taken off the Indoor Cycling mode

    • Francisco

      Hi!!!
      I’m going to buy at clevertrainning 2 x Garmin FR 235 (1x blackwhite + 1x marsala)
      Since i was checking today during the day they were available, but now, it just says that its available in 2 to 5 bussiness days.
      I’ll be living U.S. on Tuesday Morning…. if i pay for the 2 bussiness day shipping…are those available ???
      Thanks!

    • That’s the ship-date, so given the US holiday tomorrow, I’d doubt it. Basically, it means that it’s backordered 2-5 biz days. So in a best case scenario it’d ship out Monday (Thurs doesn’t count). Clever Training is working Friday to ship orders, but Garmin is not open Thurs/Fri – so they aren’t doing shipping on Friday from Olathe to companies.

  63. Random FYI updates on FR230/235 related items, based on some discussions with Garmin.

    A) The FR230/235 isn’t getting Virtual Racer/Virtual Partner/Virtual Pacer. The listing for the past month on Garmin.com was/is apparently a mistake, and wasn’t planned. Obviously, I think that’s a bit poor given it’s been there a month. It’s not something that was just there for a few hours that morning by minor oversight. It also speaks to really systematic issues that Garmin has on getting Garmin.com specifications correct/validated each time. Almost every product they’ve launched this year has had something screwed up on it on Garmin.com feature-spec-wise.

    B) Indoor Cycling mode: This was on a beta unit, and they’re saying that isn’t planned for production units (hence why it’s now gone for everyone). Hmm…kinda lame in my opinion, since Polar has this at half the price, and heck, so does the Edge 20/25. On the flip side, it’s easy to just set it for GPS off. Still, odd choice.

    C) Battery burn issues on the FR235 with optical sensor: They’re aware of this and working on a fix to be released in a few weeks.

    D) Calorie calculations on the FR235, does it use 24×7 optical HR sensor: Yes, for all-day 24×7 calorie calcs it does indeed use the optical HR sensor.

    Cheers.

    • Mike

      What about Virtual Pacer or Virtual Partner? Both are also listed on Garmin’s website too.

    • All three are errors. Sorry, totally forgot about the other two in my comment post. None of those will be in there. Sad panda.

    • Mike

      Who knows… maybe we’ll see someone create a CIQ app.

    • Mike

      Thanks Ray. Looking forward to reading your full review tomorrow.

    • Matt L

      So the FR15/25 has Virtual Pacer but the 230/235 does not. Doesn’t make much sense, unless they are trying to create more differentiation between the 230/235 and the 630 other than Running Dynamics. A lot of people don’t use the Virtual Pacer, but I do. Was going to buy the 235 pending your review, but have to think about it now.

    • inimene

      garmin is responsible for errors like that ! If they are doing those errors constantly, are there any compensation for customers who have bought products based on false descriptions ?

    • Christoph

      Regarding Indoor Cycling Mode: It’s on my 235 and it works. Ordered it directly at Garmin from Germany, received it yesterday.

    • Sagar

      For now. From what Ray said earlier it sounds like it might be removed the next time one updates the watch’s firmware

    • If you can post some pictures of it on yours, especially with a boxed shot behind the watch (showering retail basically), that’d be much appreciated. Happy to take out the baseball bat a bit more…

    • Peter

      I think it is just inexcusable that advertised features are not present. I based my decision for buying a 235 on the fact that the website said it had a virtual pacer / virtual racer feature. Now it turns out that is not the case. It was a feature I really wanted to have.

      As Ray states, it is not just a mistake that was quickly removed from their website after a few hours or so. It was there for a month or so. When I got the watch and couldn’t find that feature, I went back to their website and checked. I even saved a screenshot, for it was still there. If we even can’t trust the manufacturer to tell us what features are present in THEIR watch, then where do we have to go???

      I will be investigating what the laws of my country say about such misleading product announcements. In the end, I have bought a product that does not live up to what the manufacturer announced it would offer. It is just plain amateurism.

      Heck, this is a 349 euro watch. Can I at least expect to get what was promised?????

    • Jamie jenkins

      I think there would be more traction if enough people starting complaining about false advertising to their public Twitter account.

      Companies to not like bad publicity so this may help. @garmin

    • Crampburg

      Picked up a fr235 yesterday at my local running store(Memphis,tn). I was able to turn on the indoor bike mode running v2.4 out of the box. Just upgraded to v3.1 and indoor cycling is still available.

    • bman

      ditto. They still haven’t bothered to correct the specs on their site.

    • Crampburg

      Pic of fr235 with bike indoor mode

    • Chris L

      I have Bike Indoors on mine as well, received it yesterday from REI and it already went through a firmware update. granted, I had to enable the activity through the settings menu, but it is there and works. I could not, however, get my speed/cadence sensor to be detected on my spin bike this morning even after cranking the pedal with my left hand with the watch on my left arm. I don’t think I like this new sensor pairing setup

    • JR

      You don’t need to crank the pedals when pairing, just turn pedals a few times so sensor will turn on, then almost touch the sensor with watch and keep it close until watch vibrates and pairing is done. Watch needs to be really close to get it done.

    • Chris L

      JR – Thanks, I will try that approach. I wasn’t clear on where the sensor was, but I found a manual online so I will find it next time I am at class.

      On another note, I am happy with the HR data apart from the same result others see, the weird dropouts/spikes. I have frequently checked the 235 against the Polar H7 during 2 runs and an indoor bike ride and it has been either spot on or very close.

      It really is my ideal wearable.

  64. leo

    Does anyone have a comparison on the dimension of the watch / glass face between 225 and 235?

    I have a spare of screen protector for 225 and not sure if it will fit on 235. I am trying to find screen protector for 235 but i just can’t see they are already available.

  65. todd sparks

    If I don’t really care about the Running Dynamic information from the FR630, is the FR235 an ok choice? Is the HR ‘reliable’ and are there any other glaring absences in the features?

    • Long Run Nick

      Todd, ask 10 people and get 10 different answers. Works great for me. Ray has his review to be published shortly, the next day or 2-just guessing. He is very objective and will tell you his experience with the FR235.

  66. Tim Sullivan

    So here’s the dilemma I face. I have a 610, looking to upgrade because I’m getting sick of the dodgy charger that it has, plus it is getting older, and debating a few things…

    Upgrade/downgrade to the 230/235 lineup. I didn’t end up using most of the fancier bells and whistles that the 610 offered, so I don’t know that I would be missing out…and I think that a lot of the higher end features have trickled down, so that makes it a bit of a wash I think.

    Upgrade, but do I do a 620, that is on some pretty amazing deals this time of year, or upgrade fully to the 630? I’d already be upgrading with the 620, but is there enough of a feature difference to warrant the 630? The activity tracking isn’t a big feature to me, as I’d only be using the watch during training, and would be switching back to my daily watch after that, and if I read correctly, that’s one of the biggest differences?

    One other question I have, since I have a severe visual disability, seeing your typical smartphone screen is extremely difficult in bright sunlight….is the new 230/235/630 screens similar to that, or is it more like an older-school type of LCD screen like the 610?

    Appreciate any feedback people can give!

    • Harith K

      The only thing that comes into my mind when trying to help you is: Do features like metronome, lactate threshold test and finish estimator add value to your training regime?

      If yes, I’d say the 630 is a good upgrade, and I’m thinking of getting it (I have a 620, but my cadence really sucks and I believe that the metronome will make a difference)

  67. Jamie Jenkins

    Having read Ray top gadgets post earlier I have plumped for the FR235.

    Own the FR225 but ideally four data screens and 24/7 swayed it.

    Managed to find a website in the UK selling it with 9% discount and a further 5% discount code applied knocking £37 off the price which is a help. Feel a little done by Garmin having released it so soon after the FR225.

    • Dipesh

      That’s a really good discount for such a new product- any chance you could share where it was from? Would definitely help make my mind up for which watch to go for!

    • Jamie Jenkins

      Yes I got it from Start Fitness currently showing as 9% off. Then at checkout you put in cloud5 and it knocks another 5% off.

      Not sure on the rules of posting links or advertising hence I didn’t mention company before. They have the blue version, the one I ordered, and also the black.

      link to startfitness.co.uk

    • John Jackson

      If anyone is a member of VitalityHealth (part of Prudential Life Insurance) in the UK, you can get 50% off selected Garmin and Polar watches directly from Garmin. 230/235/910XT included. We have life insurance with our mortgage.

    • Paul Allen

      Nice tip. 🙂

      Just a damn shame only that ghastly pastel green one is available. Truly horrible looking.

    • Dipesh

      Cheers 🙂 I was after the Black/Marsala one but may have to re-consider if I can save a bit of money. Or get VitalityHealth cover!

    • Jamie Jenkins

      It seems only the blue is in stock. £5 cheaper today. Just checked my status and it says packed.

      So you will be able to get it for less than £230

  68. Paul allen

    Now that some folk have their hands on it:

    Can any 235 owner check if the music controls also control the likes of Spotify, Podcasts, Tunein, Audible, Stitcher, or is it purely the Apple music app?

    I hear the vivoactive only lets you control the iOS music app which sucks, seeing as both my old Pebble and Misfit Flash allow me to control whichever audio device is playing. Pebble even showed tracks etc on the watch.

  69. Paul allen

    Now that some folk have their hands on it:

    Can someone check if the music controls also control the likes of Podcasts, Spotify,Tunein, Audible, Stitcher, or is it purely the Apple music application?

  70. Paul Allen

    For those of us using jailbroken iPhones, there appears to be an app to get around the fact that the Garmin devices seem to allow music controls will default music app only, no spotify etc.

    The name of the app os DefaultPlayer Pro, it seems to let your Garmin music controlling device control your other music apps.

  71. Vance

    Is this an exclusive color for Nike for the 235? (Black and Yellow)
    link to store.nike.com

  72. Jim

    Do you know when the WatchOut! app will be released on FR630? How run other ConnectIQ 1.2 Apps on your FR watches?

  73. v

    Ray, thanks for great detailed review!

    I have one question about 230/235 battery life. If optical HR sensor in 235 is disabled then it’s battery life is absolutely the same as in 230 or it still will be less than 16 hours for 230?

    During winter season (lots of XC skiing) i’d like to use 235 with HR disabled since it does not make sense to enable it. And the battery life is an important factor for me when choosing between 230/235.

    Thanks!

  74. Just as a super-quick heads up in case folks didn’t see it – late last night (or super-early this morning depending your viewpoint), I posted the Garmin FR230/FR235 In-Depth Review: link to dcrainmaker.com

    Cheers!

  75. Joe

    Curious to some feedback about whether I should get the 230 or save some money and get the 220 (or not buy it at all)…

    -Started running back in July. Now able to do 5k races. Looking to keep improving and run on a regular basis.
    -I bring my phone with me to play music. I use the running feature in Spotify to help keep my running pace consistent.
    -I use Runkeeper to log my activities. Part of the reason why I bring my phone.
    -I also wear my Pebble watch (primarily just to check my current time, pace). I do wear it on a regular basis as my primary watch. I really like the notifications.

    Is it redundant to buy a Garmin watch all-together after looking at my habits above? I guess the 230 could replace my Pebble since it does notifications, but is it really worth it? Is the Garmin worth using over turning Runkeeper on?

    • Nighthawk700

      It was pretty much the exact same thing for me. I started in March, using “RunDouble” (to get through the C25K part) then “Endomondo” on my Android phone, with a Pebble watch. Now I’m on the FR 235. I wanted the HRM, and the better GPS. But there are some things the Pebble did better. I could leave my phone on the charger by the computer, and still get notifications on my Pebble two floors up and on the other side (length-wise) of the house. The Garmin keeps cutting out one floor up and width-wise away. So not as strong a connection. With Augmented SmartWatch Pro, I had tighter control over my notifications, although the Garmin app is pretty good at letting you select which applications you want to receive notifications from as well. (e.g. I added Google Voice notifications, and turned off Twitter notifications).

      Ultimately it’s going to come down to what do you want from your watch. I like that now if it’s raining, I don’t need to bring my expensive phone out on a run with me, I can just use the watch and load the results when I’m back. I like the data screens with more information during the run, rather than the 3 that Endomondo would let me so.

      The one feature that I really miss from the Pebble though is that I had my Android set so that if it was connected to the Pebble via Bluetooth, I didn’t need to do an “unlock” on the phone to open it up. The bluetooth connection with the FR 235 doesn’t seem to hook in the same way, the SmartLock doesn’t hook up with it.

      Not really giving you an answer, but maybe some food for thoughts.

    • Joe

      This actually does help some. I did not think of rainy weather. I usually don’t run in inclement weather, but this is an option now that you bring it up. Does the 220 track your cadence or is it only available in the 230 and up? I guess that is what having music helps me out with. If I don’t have something to keep me on a set pace then I tend to jump ahead and wear myself out too fast. Spotify running feature plays music set to a specific steps per minute that I select. I have been running @ 185 steps lately.

  76. John FR630

    Hi Ray, I have noticed an issue on the 630 that might also be applicable to the 230, or even 235. When I first put on the HRM, (that came with the 630), it reads high, (around 30 to 40 bpm high).

    For example, today I popped the HRM on to see my HR hover around 82-86 bpm. For comparison I put on my Polar HRM and Polar watch which read my resting HR correctly around 40-42 bpm. To further test this, I put on my Wahoo Tickr-X paired with my smart phone, my HR agreed with the Polar. After 2-3 minutes the 630 displayed HR drops down fairly quickly to match the other two sensors.

    Has anyone seen anything similar on the 230/235/630?

  77. Jon

    Hi, just got my 235 today and noticed the screen was not centered. I can put a fingernail down the bottom side of the watch between the glass and the bezel, but the top half is tight against the bezel. Anyone else with this problem? I expect more from a $330 watch. It just feels cheap to me.

  78. Tom

    Hi, I’m trying to find the best option for triathletes with built in heartrate monitor.
    I have the 225 and the tomtom multisport cardio but neither have a simple way to track all elements efficiently.(for brick training or actual race) The Forerunner 920 seems to but doesn’t offer built in heartrate… any suggestions or any work arounds people are using to make the multisport cardio or 225/235 more functional during a triathlon…
    Thanks so much!!

  79. Juan

    Is the estimated 235 VO2 Max and recovery time?

  80. Juan

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

    • Yes, most of the time – it’s somewhat variable. More activity and it measures it more, less activity and it reduces the rate.

      HR is indeed leveraged for daily calorie activity (I got clarity on that earlier this week, just to be sure).

    • Kevin

      Would you happen to know if this calorie metric on the FR also updates as Garmin Connect receives activities recorded from other sources like an Edge computer?
      Like say if the FR showed me at 1000 cal, then after I finished a session with 500 cal recorded on Edge… would the FR automatically update to include that 500?

    • Right now the on-device stats don’t take into account other devices. But the GC stats do.

  81. Tom Harte

    Can anyone refer me to any videos, articles or suggestions with information about using the Garmin 225 or TomTom multi cardio in an actual Triathlon efficiently or suggest a better option to wear during a triathlon or during brick training the caveat is I need the built in heartrate monitor)
    Thanks

  82. Manu

    Estimated VO2Max no band with the 235?

  83. Sal

    Well well… I need help! I know, it’s some kind of “luxury problem” and some ppl may hate me now but I can’t decide which GPS-watch is the right one for me: fr630 or fr235.
    So I bought both! (black Friday, 25% off ).
    Of course I want to keep (and unbox) only one of them. The other will be a Xmas present for someone or I’ll put it on ebay.

    I wanted to buy a 235 because of the optical HR. But as it was sold out in the shop I went for the (black) 630 bundle. For 2 days I got used to the idea to wear that watch: the touch-screen, the more classic design, the extra-features I never used yet but maybe I’ll love them.
    I read every article and watched every video I found about that watch. And I can’t wait o see your in-depth review, Ray. I was sure.. the fr630 is the right watch for me!!

    And then… the shop got the (black) 235 back in stock .. still 25% off… and I ordered it too..
    Less features, no touch-screen… but optical HR!!

    Ray: I’m far away of being a pro-runner. I go for a 1 hour jog every 2-3 days. I love statistics and reviewing all my metrics on the screen after a run..
    Are the additional metrics included in the 630 something for an “average runner” like me?
    I love the idea of th optical HR because I’m not a chest strap-fan.
    And what about the touch screen? is it worth keeping the 630?

    • Paul Allen

      How about the FR 630 + the Vivosmart HR for rebroadcasting HR to it?

    • I’d honestly keep the FR235 and hope the minor quirks left in it get sorted out. Given what you’re saying about the type of device you want, I think you’ll get more value out of that than the FR630.

  84. Richard R

    I run occasionally, but mostly do indoor and outdoor rowing. I understand that the Garmin has an ‘other sport’ mode – is this correct and will this allow me to measure heart rate and GPS track for outdoor rowing, and heart rate data only for indoor rowing? Is this customisable so that I can set up a different screen for each of these activities and ideally label it with “indoor rowing” when the data is uploaded??

    Basically I am torn between getting the M400 which my friends have and does everything (loads of sport profiles), and the FR235 which has the cool colour screen and optical HRM.

    • Richard R

      Sorry to clarify I’m asking about the FR235

    • Nighthawk700

      From my experiments so far, with my 235, you are right, up to this statement: “Is this customisable so that I can set up a different screen for each of these activities and ideally label it with “indoor rowing” when the data is uploaded??” You’ll have your 4 screens. Run, Run Indoors, Bike, Other. They are uploaded as such. You’ll have to change the label yourself after the event is uploaded.

    • Richard R

      Thanks Nighthawk700. It’s good to know that the other function collects hrm and gps.
      can you turn off the GPS in the other function (eg for when I do indoor rowing)?

    • Nighthawk700

      Yes, for each profile (Run/Bike/etc.) you can set the GPS to Off, Normal (GPS Only) or GPS + GLONASS. I have my Bike profile set so the GPS is off, since most of my biking is indoors, at least until the spring.

    • Richard R

      Thanks!

  85. Ellen Ariansen

    Hi, I was just wondering what you would recommend between the 620 and 230, without looking at the price? Thanks 🙂

  86. john

    I’d like to know how easy/hard is switching to the music controls while running when your watch is in running mode?

  87. Ron

    On the 630 is there an auto lap setting for a specific distance? I like .25 mile splits. I can only see one mile laps.

    • Ryan

      On the 235 if I go into Activity Settings -> Laps, I can set the Auto lap to any interval I want (down to .05 of a mile)

  88. Ron

    Thanks for the reply. I can’t seem to locate the activity settings menu on the 630. I have looked quite a bit. If you have any further direction on this selection it would be appreciated. Ron

  89. Ryan

    Sure thing Ron

    I press the Activity button to bring me to the list of Activities (Run, Run Indoor, Bike, etc).
    Click Activity again to go into Run
    Once in Run, press the Down arrow to go into the Menu
    First option is Activity Settings – Press the Activity button
    3rd option is for Laps. In here you can turn Auto Lap On/Off and adjust the distance.

  90. Ron

    Thank you. Perfect got it now!! Ron.

  91. Troy

    Hi Ray or any other readers,

    I tried out the VivoActive and also the Suunto Ambit3. I returned the VivoActive because the smart gps reading was less accurate than my phone’s GPS, and I didn’t like the idea of spending on something that wasn’t even as good as what my phone had to offer.

    I am debating right now between the Ambit3 and FR 235. Ambit3 does a great job in GPS accuracy, as well as including many different sport modes for about the same price range as the Fr 235 (GPS is very accurate due to the good chipset and also that the antenna is external). However, the Fr 235 has an optical heart rate monitor and shows notifications more clearly (compared to Ambit3’s black and white screen). Because of this, I was stuck on deciding between the Ambit3 and Fr 235.

    I am scared about Garmin’s newer watches’ GPS accuracy, so my questions are:
    – Is the GPS accurate with distance, spot on location, trueness, precision, accuracy, and etc.?
    – – (I understand that if the watch still has kinks, and looking at Garmin’s past, there will probably never be updates to fix this.)
    – Also, how accurate is the optical HRM?
    – – Does excess sweat or bending wrist cause it to be inaccurate? Is it really a good replacement over the HRM belt?
    – – Also, will this watch have indoor/strength training features?
    – – – If so, will the optical HRM stay accurate in weightlifting or in complicated sweaty-wrist-bending movements, like in crossfit, be?

    I don’t like to just run, I also love to weight lift and swim (and sometimes bike).

    At this price range, GPS HAS to be spot on, and the multiple features should be accurate and practical.

    I want your honest opinion, and I don’t want to go get something that looks nice but isn’t practical for its intent compared to other ones that are (like Nike in running shoes compared to actual practical shoes like Altra).

    • Hello Troy,
      I use FR230.
      Speaking of accuracy I can show my latest activities inside a stadium
      runkeeper.com/user/ge0kas/activity/699318846
      As you can see it is a bit inaccurate, not to say unacceptable.
      Every other day it shows me a different distance. During my 10k run sometimes it differs 40-50m which is acceptable ofcourse but sometimes it differs a whole lap (480m)

    • Troy P

      Thanks George.

      Btw, is the stadium roofless by any chance?

    • open sky it is.
      Just to give you an idea, I prefer using my HTC One M8 with Runkeeper android app and then export to Garmin Connect (when size/weight is not a matter) than using my watch. Much more accurate points, plus plays music plus I can make a call

    • George

      Your best bet is probably going to be to wait a few weeks to observe the general sense of the community and then try one or the other out, purchasing from a retailer with a good return policy if your choice doesn’t meet your needs.

      I do dispute your claim that Garmin doesn’t issue updates to fix GPS accuracy issues. Both the 620 and the 920xt received such updates. It seems Garmin has been striving to provide similar fixes for the Fenix3, but I am unsure if they’ve been successful as I’ve not been following that model since returning mine.

  92. Pierre

    Really looking forward to an “In-Depth Review” of Forerunner 630 though there´s some rather crucial issues going on… A lot to read on the forum: link to forums.garmin.com

    1. Lighting/contrast of the display is beneath contempt. Hardly see the information in the normal to the mediocre light conditions. Moreover, the light is on for 4 seconds, regardless of the settings I´ll put it to (“always on” function is workless).

    2. Touchscreen does not respond to “push” with the watch on top of a thinner running jacket or with thinner gloves on. Nowhere in the original spec mention that you can´t have the watch on top of the jacket or with ordinary gloves (it works just fine with eg FR 620). Should of course work out in all latitudes!

    3. Mute function of music is not working. When you get notices about eg “distance and the lap pace” the volume reduces/mutes as it should, but then it does´nt return to the desired volume again. Remain lowered to minimum.

    4. Does´nt sync firmly over bluetooth. Although the update field on the phone’s bottom goes from blue to green (synchronization completion), it´s not updating.

    I have tried to rebooted the phone (iOS 9.1), shut off and put on the bluetooth. Then got the notice “phone connected”… Tried to sync up to 3 times to see if my steps were updated – but no!

    • joel

      I just wanted to say that i’m mostly happy with my 630(3.13 beta)
      I think the screen works great, the lightning/contrast/light/screen works fine(havent tested to change how many seconds the light should be on.)

      On android the sync works great.

      My problems:
      GPS altitude sucks
      Battery life isnt great, though i use it very much…
      Instant pace is lagging
      When syncing it changes km -> miles

      Why i like it:
      Size
      Functions
      It works(GPS, syncing, activity tracking, music control)
      New HRM

      Compard to Garmins latest watches i think 630 has fewer bugs and im sure Garmin will sort them out

    • TR

      > When syncing it changes km -> miles

      Check Garmin Connect profile settings online, this sounds like it syncs settings to FR every time.

  93. Jonny

    Hi Ray,

    Awesome article as always! Hopefully a quick one on the 630 – if you turn off the running dynamics screens in an activity profile (eg. ‘Race’), is the data still collected or does it turn it off altogether? Obviously for a race having 7-8 screens on isn’t ideal but I’d want to be able to look at that data afterwards

  94. Ron

    Do you know if you can pair multiple devices with the 630? I was have trouble trying to add a second device. I have a older smaller phone which has no phone abilities anymore but it has Bluetooth and garmin connect. Thus I want to relegate it to providing music while I run and then sync to connect. It does not seem to want to pair.
    Ron

  95. Matti S

    Hiya, one important question about FR630… can you set different HR zones for running and cycling? Could not find the answer anywhere.

    • Matti S

      No one knows…? I think this is quite an important feature in a multisport training computer (adding cycling made FR620/630 multisport). I’ve been in a training level test both by running and cycling and the results are definitely not the same. Even HR max is different. That’s why it’s important to have separate zones for each sport. Are the HR zones related to the “user profile” or the “sport profile” in FR630?

    • Matti S

      Answering myself, now I know. The zones are related to user profile which makes the cycling modes useless in FR630. It seems that they are there just that cycling would not mess up your running stats even though it is possible to connect cycling sensors. It’s a shame…

  96. paul carlson

    Q for 630 users.

    My 630 takes several minutes to acquire GPS. I starting from the same location every day. My 620 was practically instant. Are other experiencing the same thing? Or did I get a dud? Trying to figure out if I should send this back. Thanks!

    • It should be virtually instant (within a few seconds). One thing to double-check is if you’re getting the satellite pre-cache data, which automatically occurs when you connect with Garmin Express or Garmin Connect Mobile (or vi WiFi uploads).

    • paul carlson

      Thanks. I’m not sure I fully understand but yesterday I connected my 630 with the USB cable and used Garmin Express. I typically only use this technique when I am traveling. Anyway, I had GPS connection almost instantly. Sure is nice not to have to wait in cold weather for several minutes for watch to get warmed up 😉

    • Yup, it downloads a satellite database cache, which is good for a number of days (off the top of my head can’t remember if it’s 3 or 7). It significantly speeds up acquisition outside.

  97. Francisco

    Does anybody knows if the 630 is compatible with an iphone4?

    • Francisco

      …looking at the comatibility tables provided by garmin they say some of the not listed devices may still be compatible…

      as owner of an iphone 4 (which is not listed) I would really really appreciate knowing if the fr630 works fine with it, as it is an €450 invest I would like to use its full features and not staying half way….?!

      any hint?

    • No, the iPhone 4 is not compatible, whereas the iPhone 4s is. The reason is that the iPhone 4 lacks Bluetooth 4.0, which includes the ability to connect to Bluetooth Smart (which is required for connecting to the FR630).

    • Francisco

      🙁 Tank you Ray!

      ;-(

  98. Harith

    Bit of an issue:

    Ray, I got the FR 630 today and went on try it on my scheduled workout for the day, namely intervals from the Garmin Training Plan (Marathon intermediate).

    The workout called for: 10 minutes warm up, then intervals of 8 minutes in Z4 with recoveries of 2 minutes (Repeat 4 times), cool down.

    Now I had the Auto-Lap enabled on 1.0 KM.

    The workout was downloaded on the watch (Calendar), and I went on to use that function just like I did on the FR 620, but there was a problem: The Auto-Lap, was setting laps every 1.0 KM during a given interval.

    So my summary ended up looking like this (Attached Image):

    This didn’t happen on the FR 620, that during a structured workout, the Auto-Lap -even though still enabled- would actually alert on every kilometer, and would end up messing up the splits.

    Is there any way to get around this, without having to enable/disable Auto-Lap before/after every run?

    Thank you.

  99. Ron

    My garmin 630 will not sence and pair with my heart rate monitor. The garmin heart rate monitor is paired with my cycle garmin 520. Does that mean I can’t also use it with the 630?

    • George

      Call Garmin Support. Most likely you have a faulty 630. ANT+ sensors such as your Garmin HRM can definitely be paired with multiple receivers at the same time, I and many others do so all the time.

  100. Jackie

    I’m sorry if I missed this somewhere is all the other posts — but, should the 630 alert you when you are not within a designated pace?
    On the 620, when I uploaded a workout with a specific pace range, my garmin beeped when I was either above or below that pace and let me know with a nice little screen when I was within my target pace. Thus far, my 630 is not alerting me at all.
    I have contacted Garmin but they tried to have me set up a general pace alert, but that is something else entirely.

    Thanks!

  101. GregC

    I love your in depth and honest reviews. Wondering if you think Spotify or something similar could be designed as a streaming music app that could be downloaded from the Garmin IQ app store. Like downloading different watch faces?

    • It’s tough. Right now, for the same reasons we don’t see a United Airlines or XYZ company app on Garmin Connect IQ is simply that there isn’t yet a big enough customer base for these companies to be interested in building and then maintaining such an app (with the long-term support being the tricky part).

      The numbers that Garmin put up back at the ANT+ Symposium (nearly 1M Connect IQ devices by end of year) are impressive, but for a company like Spotify, none of those have audio directly – so it’s of less interest.

  102. Nick

    Ray over the past couple of days I have slept in and when I woke up and checked my garmin 235 it had some amount of calories on it. Day before yesterday it was 5000 and today it was 2000. I’m wondering why its not totally clearing at midnight (I’m guessing). I was curious if anyone else has seen this issue, I did download the update today and that may solve the problem just have to wait until tomorrow I guess. Thanks alot sir.

    • David

      The calorie total shown includes your basal metabolic rate, ie. calories you burn by just being alive. This could easily be 1700-3000 per day depending on your sex, age, and weight. The watch then ADDs your calories you burn through movement, workouts, walking etc. to that number. perhaps when you saw 5000 the other day you were very active with long workouts and today with 2000 you were more sedentary?

  103. V

    Does forerunner 325’s music connect work with iPod nano?

    • George

      Nope. I don’t believe the ipod nano supports the right bluetooth profile, mine will only connect with headphones/headsets. I just tried pairing and my 7th gen nano simply doesn’t see the Forerunner 235.

      No loss though. I already just use the start/stop/forward/back/vol+/vol- controls on my bluetooth headphones. Easier than using the 235’s controls IMHO.

  104. Karen

    Am i missing something – i notice the new Garmin watches with built in HRM don’t have the ‘virtual partner’ pacer which i use on my 610, i’d like to upgrade my watch to include both the inbuilt HRM & virtual partner…. is this likely to happen or am i asking for too much..??

  105. Emily

    Hi Ray — and anyone else who would be willing to offer their opinion! Thanks so much for this awesome review. My question pertains to the 220 vs. 230.

    My husband would like to upgrade my OLD Forerunner 10 for Christmas and I am having an incredibly difficult time deciding between the 220 and the 230. (I don’t use a heart rate monitor, so I don’t need the 225/235.)

    I am an avid runner (no biking or swimming). I don’t care about the notifications or activity tracking, but I really care about having accurate running, primarily pace and distance, data. My main reasons for upgrading are the difficulty my 10 has finding a GPS signal and tracking me among tall buildings, and wanting the ability to track my myself indoors.

    I hear that the 220 is one of the most reliable watches Garmin has ever made, which is why I’m hesitant to spring for the less-tested 230. However, I also don’t want to deprive myself of 230 features that I might appreciate down the line.

    The two items on your list of 230 upgrades — “1-second recording option” and “addition of GLONASS” — interest me the most, but I’m not sure if they’re worth risking the potential glitches and unreliability of a newer model.

    I would appreciate anyone’s opinion on this, especially anyone who has experience with the 220. Thank you!

    Emily

  106. Long time runner used to using a simple Timex Ironman watch. At one time I was pretty serious – had a coach, regular VO2 max and lactate threshold tests, etc. I ran a couple marathons a year plus 3-4 triathlons up to half-Ironman. These days, just working my way back to regular running and hopefully, marathon shape.

    I finally want to jump to a GPS watch – trying to decide whether to make the leap to the Garmin 230, or would I be fine with the Forerunner 25 or the 620? The 25 ($169) and the 620 ($180) are nearly identical on price at the moment on Amazon, which further complicates things.

    I don’t care at all about phone notifications. Indifferent about the optical monitor in the 235. I want solid GPS, as large/legible a screen as possible, bluetooth updates to the iPhone for either the Garmin software or Map My Run, am fine with HR through a strap, and would like activity tracking (though not a deal killer). Am a little nervous about going with ‘old technology’ via the 620, but it seems tempting at a price near the Forerunner 25.

    Any recommendations from others who’ve been in this boat?

    Thanks!
    Mark

  107. paul

    Great review of 230 and 235 as ever. Santa / my wife is getting me a 230 as a result.

    I have been trying to use ‘Run Less Run Faster’ book that has very structured intervals and I want to use 230 with training plan. Is the only way to get structured workouts i.e. intervals on to the 230 (apart from directly on watch) via Garmin Connect work out creator page? This does what I want but it’s a bit laborious though perhaps I should not be so lazy. The training plans that Garmin provides in Garmin Connect are not right for me so I don’t want to use these.

    From bit of searching around I think you used to be able to upload a tcx file using Garmin Training Center – I think that’s defunct now and I can’t use that with 230?

  108. Peter

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you for (all) the awesome reviews.

    For some reason I my iphone 6 Plus’s Bluetooth is not picking up my FR630 -I was wondering if you had any ideas?

    Many thanks and Merry Christmas

    P

  109. Mauro

    Hello DC

    I have just bought myself a forerunner 230, thanks to your great reviews.
    I see that there is a back to start option, in your movie and in your comparision tabel.
    But i don’t have it on my forerunner 230 🙁 🙁 why

    Grts from Belgium

    Mauro

  110. Scott

    I’m sure this has been discussed, but my pacing is off by 10-15 seconds every mile on the 230. While running, it’s showing my current pace during a mile at 8:00, but then when the mile beeps, it shows I ran it in 7:45. I’ve tried both smart and every second data recording, with the same issue both times. I had a FR 110 for years, and the pacing was always accurate to the second. Any solutions?

  111. Erich

    Ray,
    Thank you for the review. I am curious about the ability to charge while using capability. Have you tested this out? The 620 charger is pretty much a cradle, is that the same type of charger for the 630? If that is the case, won’t the thick piece of plastic (the cradle) prevent the touch screens from working since the watch is no long against the skin? Do you know how long it takes to charge while the device is being used?

    I am an ultra marathon runner and I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I can run 100 miles in under 16 hours (far from it actually), so the ability to charge while using is something that is very appealing to me. I skimmed through the comments section looking to see if this was already asked and answered, but I didn’t see it. Although, I will admit that with nearly 1500 comments, I may have missed it.

    Thank you for your help,
    Erich

    • The FR620 charging cable is a fair bit different than that of the FR630, so not quite the same challenges there.

      I know a number of folks have done it without issue on the FR630, however, it’s not quite as ‘tight’ of a connection as the Fenix3 for example, so you’ll have to be a bit more cautious with movements while charging (easy though if just in a small pocket on a backpack).

  112. Hi All-

    As is usually the case, once a review publishes, I close the preview post to new comments – simply to keep things tidy/consolidated going forward. No worries though, you can still post new comments/questions on the in-depth reviews for each product. Here they are:

    Garmin FR230/235 In-Depth Review: link to dcrainmaker.com
    Garmin FR630 In-Depth Review: link to dcrainmaker.com

    Cheers!