This product has been discontinued by the manufacturer. It's been replaced by the Garmin Forerunner 645/645 Music, you may want to check out that review instead.
- Weight & Size Comparisons
- Running & Watch Basics
- Advanced FR630-Only Features
- GPS Accuracy
- Activity Tracker
- Smart Notifications & Connect IQ Support
- Backlight & Touchscreen Display
- Bugs & Quirks
- Product Comparisons
- Found this review useful?
- Discussion (456)
Garmin Forerunner 630 In-Depth Review
It’s been almost two months since Garmin announced the FR630, alongside the new Garmin FR230 & FR235. They started shipping the FR630 about 5 weeks ago, and I’ve been using it on and off since, in conjunction with the other new Garmin watches. You’ll find my In-Depth review of those two units here.
Meanwhile, the FR630, at a fair bit more cash, is Garmin’s most advanced running-specific watch. It’s the successor to the FR620, and the FR610 before that. It’s not designed as a multisport watch (that’s the FR920XT/Fenix3), or a hiking watch (again, the Fenix3 or Epix). It’s a runner’s watch. Or perhaps a runner that rides very occasionally.
Finally, before we dive into things, I’ve had a small flotilla of FR630’s to test with. One I got through normal retail channels, and two different ones from Garmin to test (different colors). The units came at different times over the past 41 days. The loaner units will go back to Garmin here in the next week, while I’ll keep the other one I own.
First up is getting this puppy unboxed. There are a few different variants you can buy, depending on the color you want, and whether or not you want the heart rate strap (HRM-RUNv2).
In my case, I’ve got the unit with the new HRM-RUN (but if you have an older HRM-RUN strap with the little runner icon on it, you can upgrade it).
Next, here’s everything that’s in the box: The FR630, the HRM-RUNv2, some manuals, and a USB charger. There is not a bunny, or leftover Halloween candy.
First up, we’ve got the quick start guide and other former tree products. After this review, it’s unlikely you’ll need those.
Then we’ve got the HRM-RUNv2. The main difference you’ll notice from the exterior is that it’s a bit more of a molded pod – just like the recent HRM-TRI. I’ll dive through all the differences in a short bit, hang tight. At a software level, it has a few more features than the HRM-RUNv1 did, but Garmin has also recently enabled HRM-RUNv1 folks to upload and get the v2 features.
With the HRM-TRI & HRM-RUNV2, the pod no longer comes off the strap. However you can still change the battery by popping off the cover. In theory Garmin says that the strap has been designed to last considerably longer than past straps. Unfortunately, only time will tell if that’s true.
Next is the charging cable. It’s new, but it’s also the same as the FR230/235. I’d be thrilled if they actually managed to keep the same charging cable beyond one months worth of watches. It simply clips onto the side.
Finally, the watch itself. It’s basically the same thickness as the FR230/235, and about the same width too. Really, if you were more than a few feet away from someone – you’d never know the difference.
With that – let’s move on to size comparisons.
Weight & Size Comparisons:
Next, let’s take a look at the weight. The unit comes in at 44g:
The FR230 & FR235 are very similar in weight to the FR630. The FR230 weighs 41g, and the FR235 weighs 42g.
Next, here’s a side-profile view of many modern GPS running watches on the market.
From left to right we’ve got: Garmin Epix, Garmin FR920XT, Suunto Traverse, Suunto Ambit3 Peak, Polar V800, Garmin FR225, Garmin FR630, Garmin FR235, TomTom Spark, and Garmin FR25.
So basically, I’ve pretty much showed what we already knew – the FR630 is a very slim GPS running watch that doesn’t weigh much.
Lastly, there might be some confusion on the various HR straps that Garmin bundles. Here’s a simple picture that shows them all!
Basically, here’s what you need to know:
A) In order to get the additional Running Dynamics metrics, you must have a HR strap with a little runner icon on it (HRM-RUNv1 or HRM-RUNv2 or HRM-TRI)
B) Even if you have a HRM-RUNv1/v2/TRI, you also must have a Garmin GPS watch that supports Running Dynamics. The FR230 and FR235 do not. The FR620 supports the 1st generation metrics, while the FR630/FR920XT/Fenix3 support the 2nd generation metrics.
C) Garmin HRM-RUNv1 & HRM-TRI straps are easily updated to 2nd Generation Metrics, it’s free and only takes about 20-30 seconds. This occurs via the FR630, Fenix3, or FR920XT when it connects to the strap.
D) All current Garmin running watches give you running cadence, without the need for any HR strap or footpod. This is done via the internal accelerometer.
E) The Garmin Forerunner 230/235/630 will connect to the HRM-SWIM for pure HR when out of the water. They will NOT be able to connect to it while in the water, or download data from swims after it. Said differently: No, you can’t use the FR630 to download swimming HR data from an HRM-TRI or HRM-SWIM.
Got all that? Don’t worry, I’ll talk about what the heck Running Dynamics are later on. For now, this portion of the test only requires knowing which strap is which.
Running & Watch Basics:
I’m going to quickly run through the basics of using the watch, before diving into some of the FR630-specific features that aren’t really found on other GPS watches. Do note that later on I have created a whole section on just the touch-screen aspects, as well as the widgets.
So to start a run, we’re going to tap the little runner man button, which is the upper right button. While the touch screen is used for many things, you can’t start a run without pressing this button.
Next, you’ll select a specific activity profile, such as a Run, Bike, Run Indoors, Other, etc… You can also select a Connect IQ app here as well.
A key difference between the FR630 and the FR230/235 is that on the FR630 you can create additional sport profiles. Whereas on the FR230/235 you can only enable/disable the small set of included ones. So with a FR630 you can create something named ‘Cow Tipping’, whereas with the FR230/235 you’re ‘confined’ to just a generic profile called ‘Other’.
Once you’ve selected that profile it’ll start searching for satellites (if applicable). The unit has the option to enable both regular GPS as well as GLONASS. Further, you can change from 1-second record to Smart Recording. Note that the FR630 carries over the UltraTrac functionality that reduces the GPS sampling rate and allows long-battery life scenarios for things like multi-day hikes.
In general, as long as you sync your watch semi-regularly (WiFi/Bluetooth Smart/USB) with Garmin services, it’ll download satellite cache data – which means the satellite acquisition process generally only takes a few seconds.
At this point, you’ll be looking at data pages for your run. There are a series of default pages, but you can also create your own custom pages. Each page can have up to four data fields on them (1-4).
Total Data Pages You Can Enable/Disable:
– Four Customizable Data Pages (1-4 fields each)
– HR Zone Gauge Page
– Virtual Partner Page
– Clock Page (just the time of day/date)
– Music Controls
– Running Dynamics Page 1
– Running Dynamics Page 2
– Navigation Page (if navigating)
Phew! Tons of options. Here’s a small gallery of all of those pages with a few different layout options, or at least, most of them:
If you have a HR strap, now’s a good time to pair it. You’ll do this through the sensor menu by just putting the HR strap close to the watch:
With all that set/paired/decided, it’s time to run! Once you press the start button again, it’ll start recording. You can pause that at any time too by pressing the same button.
As you run the unit will use GPS for pace and distance. At this time, it does not use a footpod while outdoors for pace and distance, even if paired (indoors it will).
Like all Garmin watches made in the last two years, the FR630 displays pace in :05s increments – i.e. 7:50/mile or 4:40/km. For lap and/or averages, it’ll display it to the exact second.
Along with most Garmin watches, you can configure features such as Auto Lap (to automatically create laps on a preset distance such as every mile/kilometer), as well as configure alerts for exceeding various thresholds. These thresholds and alerts can be for pace, heart rate, time, cadence, distance, calories, or walk/run.
The FR630 also includes a Metronome feature. This allows you to setup a beeping/buzzing metronome that you can match your running cadence too. This has been offered on all higher end Garmin running watches for the last year.
When it comes to training options, those include setting up workouts in a number of ways. You can create an interval workout directly on the watch, as well as download custom workouts from Garmin Connect via your phone or desktop. Somewhat annoyingly though, you have to create these from a desktop – as the Garmin Connect Mobile app doesn’t allow you to create them.
You can also race an activity – either one that you’ve run in the past, or one downloaded from Garmin Connect.
Further, you can race against a set time/distance combo – such as trying to hit a 40-minute 10K.
In the same menu that you can race a specific time, you can also race against your predicted finish time (based on VO2Max), or your existing PR (albeit based only on workouts on that watch).
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.
You can save various locations for future reference/access, as well as display exactly where you are at any point in time.
Once all of your workouts are done, no matter how you do them, you’ll get summary information.
This includes the ability to look at personal records, or VO2Max records. These are not transferred from previous watches though, or from Garmin Connect – so if you haven’t done it on your FR630 yet, it’s ‘new to you’.
I’ve found that the VO2Max functionality is particularly slow to stabilize, compared to that of the FR230/235. I’m not really sure why that is. Mine should be about 4-8 units higher based on other watches and actual VO2Max tests. I suspect if I gave it a few more weeks it’d stabilize, it usually does eventually.
It’ll also give you a recovery time estimate too. Though, I find this generally completely overestimates my recovery time:
The completed workout information is then sync’d to your phone via Bluetooth Smart, or via your home or office’s WiFi networks. From there it’s sent onwards to Garmin Connect for online analysis – such as looking at a route like the below (here’s a link to this workout):
You can also simply plug the watch into your computer via USB, in which case the .FIT files are accessible just like any other USB thumb drive. From there Garmin Express (the PC/Mac desktop software) will also take care of uploading to Garmin Connect.
Advanced FR630-Only Features:
I’ve already discussed a number of FR630 specific features in the previous section, so before we go much further, let’s recap those sport features not found on the FR230/235:
– Ability to create additional sport profiles
– Ability to ‘Race an activity’
– Metronome functionality
– UltraTrac GPS recording rate functionality
Next, I’m going to dive into a few more things that are specific to the FR630 (and in some cases also offered on the Fenix3/Epix/FR920XT. Basically, things not found on the FR230/235 (or lower).
First up is the Stress Score function. This function will give you a stress score, on a small gauge. Interestingly, this is actually a Connect IQ app, though Garmin doesn’t make it available otherwise. The test should be taken while
relaxing (ok, standing apparently):
The test requires you wear a HR strap, in which it uses your heart rate (likely heart rate variability) to determine how stressed you are:
It takes about three minutes before it comes back with a final result:
I think that the score is pretty much useless. I’ve taken it a few times when I’m pretty stressed out, and every time it comes back with low to no stress. Perhaps I don’t exude stress or something. Updated note: For those curious, I’ve tried the test both standing and sitting – with both as low – despite having run both days and both days being relatively stressed. For example, if you look in my initial preview post I did it standing:
Next we’ve got the Lactate Threshold function. The aim behind this is to identify your Lactate Threshold (LT). This value can then be used to determine/improve both heart rate zones to a specific lactate threshold pace that you can use during training or racing.
There are two ways to get a LT value: Taking a test, or letting the unit auto-calculate it. If you dive into the Lactate Threshold menu item, you’ll see the option to let it automatically determine it:
In my testing, I’ve only had it determine my LT value once – on a semi-random run that had some harder efforts in it. I’ve tried running identical runs to that since then, without any success in getting other values.
The next option is to complete an actual LT test, per the instructions the unit will provide you. To do that, you’ll dive into the menu system and start following the steps.
After a 10-minute warm-up, the program will have you increase your pace/intensity sequentially in chunks of 3-4 minutes. The culmination of which will in theory result in a Lactate Threshold value.
As it’s doing this, it’ll give guidance on what HR zones you should be in for each section, and how many minutes are left. The test is designed to take 20-30 minutes, and the unit should end the test once it determines your LT value.
In my case however, the unit was oddly unable to determine my LT value. Upon me finishing what I would presume to be the last step within the test, it just told me ‘tough nuggets’:
It’s unclear to me if this is why the unit has struggled over the last month to provide me any other LT values on workouts that I’ve somewhat purposefully structured to be more difficult.
As for the earlier/singular automatically calculated value, it did appear rather high for me. Given BSX for example spit out a number near 30/sec/mile lower (slightly more reasonable).
Finally, we’ve got Running Dynamics, or rather – the Gen2 version of Running Dynamics. The previous Running Dynamics, which were introduced with the FR620 included Ground Contact Time and Vertical Oscillation. Now that’s been extended with Gen2 to add: Stride Length, Ground Contact Time Balance, and Vertical Ratio.
These new metrics require an HRM-RUNv1 or HRM-RUNv2, or HRM-TRI strap in order to enumerate. They’ve also been ported to the FR920XT & Fenix3. You can view these metrics during the run itself if you’ve enabled the Running Dynamics Pages:
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.
Additionally, after the fact you can view these metrics on Garmin Connect:
Note again that the Running Dynamics absolutely require Garmin’s HRM-RUN or HRM-TRI strap. They are NOT compatible with any other 3rd party straps, as Garmin has locked down the metrics to be proprietary to them. 3rd parties however can view the data afterwards on their own platforms, but just not during the run. This has ultimately caused competitors such as RunScribe and Wahoo to come up with their own metrics, and pushed those companies further towards the Bluetooth Smart camp rather than Garmin’s own ANT+ technologies.
As for whether any of these FR630 features are worth the additional cost over the FR230/235 is more of an individual question. At this point, with the FR230/235 gathering so many features that used to be at the higher FR620 level, I’m personally pretty likely to just use a FR230/235 as my running-only watch going forward. The only thing I think I’d miss would be the ability to easily dismiss smartphone notifications with the swipe of a finger (as silly as that sounds).
So what about GPS accuracy? Things seem pretty strong, both on my unit as well as looking through other sources like the Garmin Forums for complaints.
You’ve got two options when it comes to GPS, one is to use just the default GPS option, and the second is to enable GLONASS. Doing so would take a slight hit on battery (usually about 20%). For me, I’m OK with that. My runs to date have mostly been city runs, with a handful of runs in/around parks, one forest run, and some runs out in the middle of nowhere northern Finland on quiet snowy roads.
Within the city environment (the most demanding I’ve run), I haven’t seen any issues, and GPS is on-par or better than any other unit I’d use concurrently.
In fact, I’ve found it does better in some areas than other units. For example, I’ve found a few ‘challenging’ spots near my home that can often trip up GPS units. These are tricky because they’re coming out of taller building areas and then immediately crossing a bridge – giving a small margin for error. Still, in this recent case the FR630 (purple) nailed it, while the FR920XT was a bit more casual:
Here’s another snippet from that same run – this where I corner around a bit of a park. Right now they’re setup for a Christmas Carnival of sorts. So I had to run into the road. You can see the purple (FR630) track nails it each time, versus the FR920XT was very close, but just a few meters away from where I actually ran.
Here’s another one, this one out through the woods for a bit before dropping down onto a running path. You’ll see both the FR630 and FR920XT nailed the track through the woods – almost as if they were snapped to the roadway:
While both units were perhaps a couple of meters ‘inside’ on this turn around a bunch of trees, we’re really only talking about 3-4 meters difference.
Picking another city run, starting off at a high level – all three units tracked near perfectly:
About the only difference I could find in this track was when the three passed Notre Dame, and the FR630 & Suunto Traverse took a slightly more scenic route through the gardens, rather than staying on the road like the FR920XT. Notre Dame rises some 96m high (approx. 314ft), which would have blocked the signal fairly well (the buildings on the other side of the street are 8-10 stories high). Even then, the disturbance is only for about 50m long, and about 15-20m offset.
Ultimately I’m just not seeing anything here that’s of concern from a GPS accuracy standpoint. Most of my running is city running, so it’s possible if others are doing more dense tree running, they might see different results (though I did one run in dense trees without issues). Still, I haven’t seen a single complaint about GPS accuracy in trees on the Garmin Forums or elsewhere. Given tens of thousands of units have shipped by now, at least someone would have complained once if so.
(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool. It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well, more details here.)
While the FR630 isn’t explicitly a great cycling computer, it’s certainly more than functional for most users. The FR630 contains a specific cycling mode, which can be found upon pressing the start button:
You have two choices for this mode – either an outdoor option or an indoor mode. While indoors the GPS is turned off, and thus for speed/distance you’d depend on a separate ANT+ speed sensor.
Meanwhile, while both indoors and outdoors you can also pair to an ANT+ Speed/Cadence combo sensor, or individual speed/cadence sensors. These can be paired within the Settings > Sensors menu on the unit:
The main difference between running modes and riding modes is that the unit properly categorizes it as a ‘bike ride’ versus a ‘run’. So when uploading to Garmin Connect or other 3rd party sites, it doesn’t mess up various running personal records (i.e. your fastest mile ran). You’ll see this shown in the upper corner of sites like Garmin Connect (here’s a link to a random ride I’ve done):
Further, by using the bike mode you’ll get metrics in speed rather than pace. So you’d see 20MPH as your speed, and not something like 3:00/mile. You can of course also switch to metric too – and use KPH instead.
The vast majority of functions, such as Auto Lap and HR alerts, work just fine in cycling mode just as they would in running mode. And you can customize them for the cycling mode too – which is great. So in cycling, many folks would want something like a 5-mile Auto Lap, rather than auto-lapping every 1 mile.
However, there are some features that do not work in cycling mode – most notably the Lactate Threshold testing option. That’s a running only feature.
Also note for completeness that at this time the FR630 does not connect to power meters, which means it also can’t connect to the Stryd Running power meter (on the proper power channel, it can connect to it if you hijack one of the other ANT+ streams). Now this is somewhat of a temporary limitation, as once Connect IQ starts allowing 3rd parties to write information to the .FIT file (the recorded activity file) in Q1CY2016, then that limitation will effectively evaporate.
Given that Suunto allows the Ambit3 (and even the Ambit2) to connect to running power meters, it’s somewhat surprising that Garmin is holding back on this one, since ultimately it’s just going to drive folks to buy the less expensive FR230/235 (or the Ambit3). I feel like opening up support for that now is kinda a little cherry on top that might push folks in that direction over the FR230/235. Oh, and in case you’re curious – Connect IQ already properly supports power within running, as seen in some of my FR920XT activities where I just switch the mode from cycling to running after the fact.
The FR630 includes activity tracking that is functionally identical to that of the FR230, Fenix3, FR920XT, and numerous other recent Garmin watches – so if you’re familiar with those, there’s nothing different here. If you’re new to the Garmin line-up, here’s what you need to know.
The unit will track daily activity metrics like steps, calories, and distance walked. It’ll also track your sleep. You can swipe at any time to the right to see your step counts for the day:
In addition, you’ll see a red bar, which is the inactivity/move bar. This basically tells you that you’ve been lazy for the last hour. If it fills up – then you haven’t moved enough. It takes about 100-150 meters of walking to clear the bar.
All of the step information is transmitted to the Garmin Connect Mobile phone app as well, and then onwards to Garmin Connect.
When it comes to sleep, the unit will automatically track your sleep for you. You need not press any buttons. Upon pairing your watch to your phone it’ll ask you for your rough sleep times. I’ve found that it doesn’t matter a ton what you put in here. Ultimately, I’ve had no problem with it tracking my sleep:
The sleep times here match very closely with my actual times I fell asleep and woke up, and also match what the Withings Aura was giving me for sleep too.
Smart Notifications & Connect IQ Support:
The FR630, like most recent Garmin wearables, supports both Connect IQ and smart notifications. With smart notifications, you’ll get things like text messages and incoming phone call alerts from your phone. This is supported on both iOS and Android, using their respective notification centers.
In the case of notifications, they’ll display immediately on the watch the moment they arrive at your phone:
You can simply tap the clear button and it’ll disappear. It works really well, and actually better than the Apple Watch, because I don’t have to twist my wrist like I do on the Apple Watch. This is especially nice in meetings, dinners, or other situations where you can see your wrist and don’t need to turn it further.
If you miss a notification, or just want to review all of that notification love you’ve been getting, you can simply swipe once to the left to the main notification page:
From there you can open any notification as before. Note that unlike an Apple Watch though, you can’t respond from the FR630. So it’s a read-only thing.
In addition on the smartphone front you’ve got the ability to see your current calendar items, as well as control your phone music (but not Spotify), and see the weather. All of these widgets can be found by just swiping left/right from the main screen.
You can get more widgets from Connect IQ via the app store.
With the Connect IQ support you can customize your watch faces, as well as install applications. Here’s an example of a watch-face I’ve installed:
(This is the FITNESS watch face)
You can do the installation of apps from the Garmin Connect IQ App Store (all free) from either your mobile phone or your desktop computer.
I’ve discussed quite a bit about apps here in this series of posts.
Backlight & Touchscreen Display:
The FR630, like the FR620 and FR610 before it – has a touch screen display. However, unlike those units Garmin has made a few tweaks to it. First off is that the touchscreen needs to be ‘grounded’ to your body, either directly or indirectly, for the screen to respond to touch.
Meaning that it’s fine if it’s on the outside of a coat, the touchscreen will work. However, if it’s on a bike handlebar mount – you won’t be able to change/swipe on the screen. The physical buttons will still work however.
Next, at the bottom of the screen is something called the ‘hamburger’. Officially it’s not called that, but in the user interface world, that’s what that little menu is known as (it looks like two pieces of bread and a burger inside). I’ve found that while the main portion of the screen mostly works just fine for me, that little hamburger is an area that I’m often fumbling with. It’s just kinda awkward sometimes.
Garmin has released a handful of firmware updates since the watch started shipping about 40 days ago, and some of those updates have specifically targeted the touchscreen. I’ve found that my experience has gone from ‘finicky’ to ‘mostly reasonable’. Not perfect, but generally good.
Next, is that I’ve found while taking a shower, it’s best to lock the display (simply hold down the lower left button for a few seconds). That’s because the unit is prone to the heavier running water causing it to do all sorts of funky display things. During a run I don’t see this as much of an issue, as the force of the raindrops hasn’t seemed to impact it (though I haven’t run in any massive thunderstorms yet either).
Next let’s look at backlight. For that there’s been a fair bit of discussion that the FR230/235/630 are ‘dimmer’ than others – both in a non-backlit situation and at night. And when compared to something like the FR310XT or 910XT, that’s probably true. But at the same time, it’s probably important to understand in the dark, just how much light is required?
First though, remember that anytime you see photos of watch backlights – the exact luminosity of that display really comes down to the photographer. I can make any display look as bright or poor as I want merely by changing settings on the camera. That said, typically I just leave the settings largely on automatic. In this case, the only thing I tweaked after the fact in Lightroom was the white balance of the photo (in total) to get rid of the yellow glow. That’s it.
First, the photo you see above is all three watches (FR230, FR235, FR630), simply with their backlights enabled. On one of the units I put it at the pending/watch display screen. This means that it has white text on a black background. The other two are on usual mid-run screens with data fields.
Below are the same three watches, this time all lined up and all in running mode. From left to right they are: FR235, FR630, FR230
Note, I’ve seen some photos/videos of folks posting pictures of a backlight of various units during daylight – I’m not sure I totally understand the point there to be honest. Said differently: Try it in the dark, you know, where the light is for.
Finally, I zoomed back and took another photo, this time adding in a Garmin Fenix3 for comparison. As you can see, it’s brighter – so much so that it ‘blows out’ from a brightness standpoint. The rest of the photo is brighter than the others because there’s simply more light in the photo for the sensor to capture.
So is it bright enough to run with? Yes, absolutely. Approximately 80-90% of my runs with the unit were in the dark. It’s just that time of year for running.
Is it as bright as the Fenix3, or even the FR620? No. But it also doesn’t matter. It’s perfectly readable, and those watches are what I’d describe as ‘excessively bright’. Yes, it can be nice to have such a bright display if you’re trying to use it as a flashlight, but when I’m running, there’s no tangible benefit to that extra brightness. I can see the display just fine with the current brightness state. Some would even argue it makes it harder to see the text.
Of course, any brightness comparisons can be a personal thing and differ from person to person, but it’s not really something that bothers me on any of these units.
Bugs & Quirks:
While the FR630 is pretty stable, there are some minor quirks that I’ve seen that don’t yet appear to be resolved by firmware updates (though it’s certainly possible they could be):
– The hamburger touchscreen menu ‘button’ can be a bit finicky from time to time
– The Lactate Threshold automatic determination function seems a bit…slow. At least to respond. I suspect it’s probably 3-4 weeks for it to really stabilize.
– The VO2Max also seems slightly slow as well. While it’s normal that it takes a few workouts to stabilize, the FR630 seems a bit slower than other Garmin watches (even the FR230/235) in this respect.
– The touch screen goes a bit crazy when you’re in the shower with the unit.
– The sensor pairing process is a bit wonky. They took something that was very clean in other products (Add/Search/Remove) and somehow made it overly complicated.
I suspect that the majority of these can and will be solved via firmware updates, still, if these are of significance to you – it’s something to be aware of.
Like all products I’ve reviewed, you’ll find the FR630 in the product comparison tool/database. This means you can mix and match features against other products I’ve reviewed or used. In the case of below, I’ve placed the FR630, FR620, and FR230 in the table. But you can easily mix and match your own comparison table right here.
|Function/Feature||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated April 9th, 2021 @ 10:16 am New Window|
|Product Announcement Date||Oct 21st, 2015||SEPT 16, 2013||Oct 21st, 2015|
|Actual Availability/Shipping Date||November 2015||OCT 31, 2013||November 2015|
|GPS Recording Functionality||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Data Transfer||USB, WiFi, Bluetooth Smart||USB, WiFi, Bluetooth Smart||USB, Bluetooth Smart|
|Waterproofing||50 Meters||50 meters||50 Meters|
|Battery Life (GPS)||16 hours||10 hours||16 hours|
|Recording Interval||1-second & Smart||1-second & Smart||1-second & Smart|
|Ability to download custom apps to unit/device||Yes||No||Yes|
|Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)||Yes||No||Yes||Music||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|Can control phone music||Yes||Yes|
|Has music storage and playback||No||No||Connectivity||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|Bluetooth Smart to Phone Uploading||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)||yes||No||Yes|
|Live Tracking (streaming location to website)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)||No||No||No|
|Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)||No||No||No||Cycling||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|Designed for cycling||Yes||Barely (Speed mode only)||Yes|
|Power Meter Capable||No||No||WITH SOME CONNECT IQ APPS (BUT CANNOT RECORD DATA)|
|Speed/Cadence Sensor Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Strava segments live on device||No||No||No||Running||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|Designed for running||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Footpod Capable (For treadmills)||Yes (internal accelerometer)||Yes (internal accelerometer)||YES (Also has INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)|
|Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)||Yes||Yes||No|
|Run/Walk Mode||YEs||Yes||Yes||Swimming||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|Designed for swimming||No (protected though just fine)||No (protected though just fine)||No (protected though just fine)|
|Record HR underwater||N/A||No||N/A||Triathlon||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|Designed for triathlon||No||No||No|
|Multisport mode||No||No||No||Workouts||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|Create/Follow custom workouts||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|On-unit interval Feature||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Training Calendar Functionality||Yes||Yes||Yes||Functions||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|Virtual Partner Feature||Yes||Yes||No|
|Virtual Racer Feature||Yes||No||No|
|Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Tidal Tables (Tide Information)||No||No||No|
|Weather Display (live data)||Yes||No||Yes||Navigate||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)||Waypoints||No||No|
|Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)||No||No||No|
|Back to start||Yes||No||Yes|
|Impromptu Round Trip Route Creation||No||No||No|
|Download courses/routes from phone to unit||No||No||No||Sensors||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|Optical Heart Rate Sensor internally||No||No||No|
|Heart Rate Strap Compatible||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Heart Rate Strap Capable||YEs||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Speed/Cadence Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Footpod Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Power Meter Capable||No||No||No|
|ANT+ Lighting Control||No||No||No|
|ANT+ Bike Radar Integration||NO||No||No|
|ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)||No||No||No|
|ANT+ Remote Control||nO||No||YES FOR GARMIN VIRB|
|ANT+ eBike Compatibility||No||No||No|
|Shimano Di2 Shifting||No||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart HR Strap Capable||No||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Capable||No||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart Footpod Capable||No||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Capable||No||No||No|
|Temp Recording (internal sensor)||No||No||No|
|Temp Recording (external sensor)||Yes||No||YES (TEMPE)||Software||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|PC Application||Garmin Express||Garmin Express||Garmin Express|
|Web Application||Garmin Connect||Garmin Connect||Garmin Connect|
|Phone App||iOS/Android||iOS/Android||iOS/Android/Windows Phone|
|Ability to Export Settings||No||Yes||No||Purchase||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
|Chain Reaction Cycles||Link||Link||Link|
|Wiggle||Link||Link||Link||DCRainmaker||Garmin Forerunner 630||Garmin Forerunner 620||Garmin Forerunner 230|
Remember, you can mix and match your own comparison table here in the product comparison database.
The FR630 is sorta an interesting duck in the Garmin running lineup. On one hand it’s designed to represent the most advanced running watch that Garmin has, and from a functionality standpoint it largely accomplishes that. Yet on the other hand, Garmin has (thankfully) moved so many of the higher end features that used to be in the FR620 down to the FR230/235, that there’s less of a reason to purchase the FR630 now.
There are certainly unique features to the FR630 (and Garmin’s other higher end units), such as the Running Dynamics, Lactate Threshold, Stress Score, and touch screen capabilities. Whether or not these are valuable to you will probably vary quite a bit. Ironically, for me these features were already on the bubble in terms of being less useful for me personally. Yet much of these seemed a little less mature than I’d need them be to push them over the edge to get me to desire them. If Stress Score was more accurate, or if Lactate Threshold more reliable – I might be inclined to be swayed.
That said, when it comes to core running functionality – the FR630 excels at that quite nicely. It’s easy to use and super-dependent. I rarely had to worry about battery life (unlike the FR235 today), and the smart watch aspects of it felt the smoothest of any Garmin wearable to date. While it’s not appreciably different than others in most respects, there’s tiny little tweaks which are notable as a day to day watch (such as the responsiveness). The hard part is now simply deciding whether these tweaks are worth the extra $70-$150 over the FR230/235.
Found this review useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.
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Garmin FR630 (select drop-down for bundles)
Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the units (though, no discount). Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.
Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.
As always… Great stuff!
Ray there seems to be an issue with the menu button on several 630 units. Has also been flagged on the garmin forum in several posts. Seems hardware related. Received my 630 yesterday and did not get the menu button working unless charging cable is attached or wet finger is placed on the connector at the back. Touchscreen works fine otherwise. Any views on this?
Yes, I discuss it within the touchscreen section here:
“Next, at the bottom of the screen is something called the ‘hamburger’. Officially it’s not called that, but in the user interface world, that’s what that little menu is known as (it looks like two pieces of bread and a burger inside). I’ve found that while the main portion of the screen mostly works just fine for me, that little hamburger is an area that I’m often fumbling with. It’s just kinda awkward sometimes.”
Thanks read that, but fumbling seems quite different from not working at all… According to Garmin forum some owners swapped their unit for a new one with higher serial number and reported no or much less issues. Am a bit disappointed with a +400 euro watch that seems to have a serious interface issue!
Yeah, not working at all definitely seems like a bad unit. But at the same time – this is the first I’ve heard of it either here or the previous post. In looking at the Garmin Forums, I can’t seem to find any threads about it under the FR630 section. Perhaps I’m missing it, but I’ve gone back about a month’s worth and don’t see anything from a title-standpoint that’s related.
Do you have a specific thread?
My 630 menu button did not working either and returned it.
630 does not look like Garmin’s major product… it is just a Mickey version of Fenix 3.
I decided to keep my old 620 and wait for the 640 or 650.
I can get to hamburger button but nothing after that.I do miss my FR620… really disappointed… Does anyone has a Garmin email/link for a formal complain?
I’d ring up Garmin support in your region, and they should be able to help you out and swap it out if required. Here’s the link for Brazil: link to garmin.com
Thanks Ray… actually I’ve managed to reset my unit and started working again… tks anyway
Great review , as usual…and I´m getting here a bit late.
In fact I lost confidence on Garmin products since I´ve bought the 610 by it´s launching on the american market.
Well, it´s wrist band was badly designed in a way I have to buy a new one every 8 months (and yes, I rinse with water after training). The watch´s back had a kind of oxidation, that cause me some skin reaction. When sending to Garmin Brazil, they didn´t replace or assume it was a project defect and surprisingly told me they have found oxidation INSIDE the watch (no, I do not swim with it nor press buttons or take hot showers with it).
While searching for answers, I found many threads of people complaining about garmin´s lack of quality and even lack of respect (a 1st class company should have at least made a recall or if not, giving a full service assuming that they have put in the market a product lacking quality.)
I´m willing to buy a second running watch, and I came to your site to see some reviews and consumer opinions.
For those who are using 620 and 630 for a while, is Garmin keeping it´s actual way of manufacturing disposable watches, so we must buy another one each 2 or 3 years?
I got over 18 months from the wrist band on the Forerunner 620 before it cracked and had to be replaced, wearing it daily, all day. With the 630 I had problems almost from the beginning. The silicone keeper broke and disappeared within 6 weeks from new. I couldn’t get a replacement from Garmin (they were not interested), but my local watch repair guy kindly gave me a plastic one that fitted and did the job. After 5 months a few cracks in the wrist band developed, 3M duct tape held it together for a few more months but it cracked elsewhere and I ended up losing both ends of the strap before Xmas.
My local dealer doesn’t carry the 630 strap (has straps for the others) and Garmin hasn’t processed my order to buy a replacement strap made with them at the end of Dec. Garmin sucks with the quality of their silicone bands and their service is poor.
Any word from garmin on if the Fenix 3 will get stress score and lactate threshold?
hrm-run v1 with the new firmware has all the same features as hrm-run v2?
My 920 has not gotten the software update that is supposed to enable the new feaures. Garmin says “soon.” link to garmin.blogs.com
There was an update to the beta S/W for the 920 yesterday that introduced these new features
yes, only beta: link to www8.garmin.com
I have the Fenix 3 with the HRM Run v1 and the latest 5.1 update but still haven’t seen the additional features. What am I missing?
You need the beta update (6.19 or newer) and the new HRM firmware.
6.24 is the current beta but annoyingly doesnt include the HRM firmware so you need to track down 6.19 and install that too. See the garmin fenix 3 forum for a guide.
This allows you to setup a beeping/buzzing metronome that you can match your running cadence too.
This allows you to setup a beeping/buzzing metronome that you can match your running cadence to.
or probably even better
This allows you to setup a beeping/buzzing metronome to which you can match your running cadence.
Do you feel better now?
B) Even if you have a HRM-RUNv1/v2/TRI, you also must have a Garmin GPS watch that supports Running Dynamics. The FR230 and FR235 do not. The FR620 supports the 1st generation metrics, while the FR630/FR920XT/Fenix3 support the 2nd generation metrics.
Fenix 2 also supports 1st gen metrics, and I assume none of the 2nd gen metrics.
Any thought on the battery life in UltraTRAC mode? I assume the 16 hours listed is for normal operation. I’m curious if this would be a viable alternative to my 920XT for ultra-marathon runs.
The 630 has the advantage that you can charge it on the go with the timer still running so I think that would be the best option – especially if you were keen to maintain full accuracy. Otherwise UltraTrac, if used all the time, would probably double battery life but at the expense of some accuracy.
I’ve been using my 630 for about three weeks and I am having an issue.
On my 620, when I added a workout that included a specific targeted pace (12×400 @ 5:00 to 5:03 pace for example), it would beep and vibrate if I was running faster or slower than the specified pace. When I was within the pace, I would read something like “target pace” on the screen.
When I have done the same thing on my 630, I get no alerts if I am running outside of my target pace.
Any advice? Is this a software issue Garmin will correct?
Altough i ain’t Ray: This is a known issue (read that somewhere in the Garmin FR630 Forum) and should be fixed someday. At least the pace alert does work within the guided lactate threshold test so i suppose this should be easy to fix.
No pace alerts in workouts is a known issue at this time.
Help, I dunno how to set up interval HIIT training , when i open the menu, therein no “training” option!!! I designed it on the grain connect and it said transferred to device but i can not find it !!!
“These new metrics require an HRM-RUNv1 or HRM-RUNv2, or HRM-TRI strap in order to enumerate. They’ve also been ported to the FR920XT & Fenix3”.
So does this mean, if I use a new HRM-RUNv2 strap with my 920XT I will have these new metrics (at least within Garmin Connect)?
Yes (and on the 920 itself) if you install the new 6.13 920 beta and install the HRM-Run updates that come with the beta package.
DC, you should really consider becoming a watch photographer 🙂
Yeah, when I tried it’s a lot harder than you might think!
I just don’t understand why Garmin would mess with the touchscreen. The 610 worked perfectly IMO and from what Ray is saying, I can’t use the touchscreen if it’s not on my wrist (aka holding it with my fingers while i set up a run for example). Stupid. The touchscreen should not need to be grounded nor should it need to be locked while running in a downpour (similar to shower). What is the point of having one if you need to use the buttons. And why do I need to press the “run:” guy before being able to use the touchscreen. The 610 never needed any of that. I only used the buttons to turn it on, off, press lap or stop. Makes not sense. Rant over.
You need to press “Run” if you want do to a run. You might want to try “Bike” or even “Cow Tipping” instead so would need to tap the relevant one. I’ve run in the rain with a 630 with no particular problems. It never occurs to me to wear watches in the shower however – too many of years of owning ones that aren’t water proof perhaps! If you mean press the start button (with a runner on it) then that’s to come out of Low Power Mode. I recall on a 610 you had to swipe to unlock to do that. Just a bit different, soon get used to it and quicker I think.
Tim is correct, and to add a tiny bit more…
There’s no method to start the GPS (that I’m aware of), without physically pressing that run button.
That said, within the shower if you just let the direct water spray hit it, the hamburger can cause all assortment of interesting things, since that’s accessing the settings menu. The good news is it takes exactly 2 seconds to lock the screen – so it’s an easy fix.
As Tim noted, I haven’t seen non-direct water spray being an issue (rain/snow/sweat/etc…).
Thanks Ray. I read on the Garmin Forum that people have issues with a sleeve moving and changing the screen. Have you noticed that? Plus, since the watch needs to be “grounded” for the touchscreen to work, then i can’t use the touchscreen while holding it between my fingers as i set up a run or review past data without putting in on my wrist? Seems silly.
Holding it in your hand is all that is needed to ground it. Seems like as long as I am touching it in some way, the touch screen is active. Only if I have it just sitting on my desk (or as Ray says, mounted to your handlebars) does it not function.
Ray has a video on Youtube that shows how it works. You can hold it it just has to be a specific way.
Correct. if you hold it on the base, you’re fine (an update a few weeks ago helped a lot there).
As far as the sleeve rubbing it – I haven’t noticed anything, but I usually have worn the watch on the outside of the long-sleeve – and even then, it’s been unusually warm here so I only had a few runs where I needed that.
Ground contact balance seem pretty unlikely to measure well from the HRM. Have you tried repositioning the HRM strap to see if this completely throws it off? Eg. Put the strap at a slight angle on the body, put the HRM module slightly to the left or right on your chest?
The “GCT” balance piece seems to work pretty well for me. It by and large gives me a similar slight left bias which I also have with a power meter left-balance on a bike. Still trying to build up a picture of what is “normal” for me before determining if I really have any issues that might need addressing. I have not moving the HRM band but have tried leaning left or right and does it react within a few seconds.
I’ve no idea how it works but I’m guessing that it measures the GCT in the same way as the previous HRM with the added feature of counting every other GCT against one foot and the alternate GCTs against the other foot. I suppose it then has to work out which foot is which and presumably has to detect the *relative* inclination of one footstep to the other. So even if you try to fool it, it should still be able to tell you are leaning slightly to the left when you land on your left foot etc.
Nice work Ray. my Q’s.
Is there a widget or IQ app available that would give the 630 breadcrumb navigation of downloaded courses and provide a trackback function? That could also be running in the background while recording a run. It’s nice that they’ve added some waypoint nav. Heck, the old FR405 had course navigation! (which had some idiosyncrasies)
Is that 16hr battery life in 1sec recording mode, or ultratrac?
Aaaand. If I decide to run a 100miler some day, can I charge and record/display a run at the same time?
Take a look at dwMap. Due to some Connect IQ bugs it is still maturing but you can effectively follow courses on it and still record your run.
Yes you can charge on the go and still keep everything recording.
dwmap is a great option in a pinch but certainly not a full replacement for the built in bread crumb / courses of the 310/910. It lacks much of the customization and is definitely still a bit rough around the edges. Some of that I suspect is the limitations Garmin puts on CIQ apps. Plus it just behaves a bit different than other activities. I’d only use it if I really need mapping for the specific run/hike such as new/unknown trails. Otherwise I’d default to a standard activity.
Still, at least you now have the option with CIQ and the developers have done a commendable job with it given the limitations.
Tim, what’s the little bike by your name mean?
The little bike means I paid a modest fee to be a supporter of the site which Ray introduced recently. Seems to give you the ability to have a login which is handy if you post a lot plus some small way to support the site given I can’t use Clever Training as am in the UK. Can’t see a link to explain the benefits however. On this front any news yet of a Europe/UK “Clever Training” equivalent? I thought Ray was “close” a few months ago…
Appreciate the support Tim (for the little bike icon). For others that are interested, you can become a ‘supporter’ (or subscriber) here: link to dcrainmaker.com
As for CT in Europe, soon? I hope. Grr…sigh.
Thank you (once again) for sharing your thoughts Ray.
I wonder why you didn’t mention the accuracy of the instant pace. With the watch running on FW 3.2 it’s way off for me. For example if i run at a constant instant pace of 4:20 min/km the 1km autolap will say 4:00 min which is far more reasonable. Lap pace on the other hand is pretty spot on.
To me the incorrect instant pace is the main bummer with this watch as it would be of an actual use for training. Even my old 610 performs massively better in this regard so i really hope it gets fixed soon.
Concerning the lactate threshold at least the detection seems to work for me. I already got 3 autodetected values out of 9 runs within two weeks of usage. The values for HR and pace are pretty stable but unfortunately as well way too high. I’m still stuck with a lactate threshold thats about 6 BPM and 20 min/km higher than a half marathon i did three months ago, and still am in comparable shape.
I understand current pace improvements are still being worked on.
It’s interesting, I saw it on earlier FW versions, but it feels closer now. I’ll need to do another steady-state run where my pace is less variable to be able to pick it out (most of my runs have been intervals/tempo mixed lately trying to cause havoc on optical HR sensors).
I’ll double-back and check over the next few days.
As for responsiveness though, it’s pretty quick for me (and also stable) – I did some toying with that today for example and it seemed quite normal on the responsiveness front.
(Random note: I find it interesting that one person says it responds too quickly, and another too slowly. In other words, folks have different preferences.)
Pace is definitely still wonky for me. A couple things that might be related. Many of the data points record zero distance and then the next records twice the distance. So software that computes speed based on the distance shows a constant oscillation between zero speed and double actual speed. Further, if you use speed to compute distance for each data point, the computed distance is way off from recorded distance. Doing this same computation with the 620 or 920 comes back pretty spot on. Theoretically, at least for longer periods, you should only need 2 of speed, duration, distance to calculate the third. That is not the case with the 630.
I’ve done a 20km steady-state run today and eagerly watched what instant pace was doing compared to the 1km autolaps. Seems like instant pace gets more accurate if you run at constant pace for some time, it took a few minutes to adapt but afterwards it was spot on with autolap. If i had to stop at a gate or something like that it again took some time to regain it’s accuracy.
That said for steady-runs it don’t seem too bad, but for runs in hilly terrain where pace is often changing it mostly won’t work because of the described delay.
Furthermore i have the feeling that it takes less time to adapt to a slower pace than to a faster one.
I did a very similar run to k1ndler today and had similar experience with current pace – i.e. it looked fine! Also in 15 miles a 920, 630 and 235 all came within 0.03 miles of each other so no complaints there either.
On my 630, after moving up from FW 3.13 beta to 3.20 current pace seems to be fine – now it seems to be in line with the average lap pace (or at least there are no more obvious discrepancies between the current pace and average pace)
How about integration to Windows phones? What products works well with a windows phone I user Fitbit Charge right now but I would like a Windows Phone section 🙂 Knowing your former workplace it should be possible for you.
Found this today…
link to microsoft.com
Thanks for another great review Ray.
I’m mainly a runner (road & trail) and also a fair weather cyclist.
I’m undecided whether to go for the 630 or Fenix 3.
What are your thoughts?
If the Fenix 3 GPS accuracy wasn’t that terrible (in many cases) and you are also into hiking, I would go with the F3. If you only run and don’t need advanced navigation, barometric altimeter and other “outdoor” features, just take the 630.
I had the same question, and went with the Fenix 3. I didn’t want a touch-screen, heard the FR630 felt a bit “plastic” compared to the Fenix, and thought I might get use from swimming and other extras on the Fenix.
One walk, one run, one bike ride so far, but GPS has been very good (max error I’ve managed to spot so far is on the order of 2-3 metres – basically just as good as Ray shows in this review). Running dynamics also seem responsive and accurate.
Sure either would do well. In addition to what has been said, the 630 is somewhat lighter and of course has touch screen which may or may not appeal. I find touchscreen a lot easier to quickly change data screens when running for instance – well without gloves at least. The Fenix 3 undoubtedly has more functions although not everything the 630 has (but close) and clearly would be a better bet if you like to navigate and run. Also the Fenix 3 is the only one that has swim support.
I ordered the 235 from Amazon, but when they did not ship on the date promised I canceled and ordered the 630. I am glad I did, I love the 630 (thank you Amazon for messing up). The watch has worked perfect, and the GPS track is really accurate (as about the same as the 920xt is) with a error of a max of ~5 feet. My only complaint is the charge cable is too darn short, wish it was about 5 feet in length. I ordered the 235 using the dcrainmaker link, but when I canceled and reordered the 630, I am not sure you got correct credit for the order. Keep up the excellent reviews dcrainmaker, I enjoy reading all of them!!
In this world there is a solution to every problem… I present, the five meter USB extension cable! 🙂
link to maplin.co.uk
Garmin HRM-RUNv1 & HRM-TRI straps are easily updated to 2nd Generation Metrics, it’s free and only takes about 20-30 seconds.
Can you give a little explanation how To do this, can’t find it.
With me it was done via my watch. However as it is the Fenix 3 I had to update it to the beta software (6.19) and drag and drop the HRM update file to the watch via USB cable. It them synced across when the strap connected.
I assume one the 2nd Gen dynamics are pushed to the main build it will all happen over the air, as that’s how my HRM swim updated itself (via the watch).
Anyone please correct me if I’m mistaken, only got the watch last week.
I found it there for my Fr 920xt.
link to www8.garmin.com
Thanks for great review! I have one question about battery life. 4 weeks in watch mode and 16h in gps mode. Is that real? How many weeks is then in average usage? (2-3 times per a week for 1h gps tracking?)
The effective battery life is hugely dependent on your backlight settings which apparently take more power than even GPS. Backlight can come on a lot depending on your settings. As such, any figures you see on battery life need to be considered with this in mind. Almost certainly the maximum figures will be with backlight off all the time.
Hi Ray, love your reviews!
Quick few questions, first, do you feel any of the new running dynamics are useful? I know you didn’t think much of the last ones. Also since it now has stride length etc. did you notice any improvement in its ability to measure pace indoors, say compared to the footpod?
Also is there any difference in comfort between the HRM tri vs the new HRM run? As that is the only advantage I can see for getting the Run run vs the Tri version other than price.
Lastly, is there any physical reason why this watch couldn’t record swimming dynamics? Or do you think it’s mainly a software thing to boost sales of the dedicated multisport watches? Do you see this feature possibly being added by Connect IQ apps in the near future.
I ask because the Fenix 3 is now around £300 which is similar to this device, however the slimmer profile, touch screen, and improved GPS accuracy might have typed the balance for me if it was able to record basic indoor/outdoor swimming for upload to something like training peaks.
Thanks again for the reviews,
I understand the HRM Tri and the “red” HRM Run have essentially the same strap so no need to get both. I mainly use the HRM Tri now and find it the best Garmin strap have ever had – easier to adjust than the previous HRM Run ones, only needs wetting under the tap before you set off and so no gels any more, comfortable and most importantly no HR spikes yet in several months of largely daily use.
As for dynamics, real time stride length and the balance one I find the most interesting. Still trying to build up a “picture of me” to see how I might use it going forwards. I have already discovered I run a bit different on a treadmill and seem to be better balanced going faster.
I would be 99% sure whether this watch can “swim” or not then you won’t see any native support for it.
Thank you Ray! Great as always!
I bought both, the 235 and the 630. Your review confirmed my (nearly) taken decison to keep the 235.
It has everything I need. The only thing I’ll miss is the touchscreen.
I’ve got both. The only thing that “worries” me about the 235 is that the optical HR, although not bad for me so far, probably won’t be as reliable as a HR strap and I do like that finally after over 20 years of wearing HR straps that Garmin have seemingly “cracked it” for accuracy with straps.
Thanks for the review!
Same question! P-l-e-a-s-e!
Thanks for your nice review, Ray!
`n Lachen und `n Knuff!
Ups! # 20
Accuracy of heart rate HRM4 vs HRM-RUN 2015?
At least with an HRM-Tri (sample of one), Firstbeat shows 19-24% measurement error vs. 3-6% with a HRM-Run (v1.) Would be interesting to hear if the HRM4-Run has similar issues, seeing that the strap / sensor designs are almost identical.
if I download and run the compass widget it reacts pretty nicely to me turning around on the spot. I have compared it to my phone’s magnetic compass readings and they were nearly the same (+/-3 degrees).
I wouldn’t say it would be possible with GPS compass only?
And as others mentioned, instant pace is way too much smoothed and reacts very slowly to rapid pace changes. On a ~150-200m section, it wasn’t able to properly adapt to new pace.
Thanks for the write-up! I recently got a deal on the 620, but I’m guessing this will be my next watch when it’s time to upgrade.
I really thought the lactate threshold measurement would be this watch’s killer feature. Since it appears to be less than accurate, on balance the FR 230 seems to be the better alternative, providing more value.
Re your guided Lactate Threshold tests I wasn’t clear if you think you “obeyed” the instructions in terms of meeting the specified HR ranges? I’ve tried a few tests now and the one that failed was when I was tired and was unable to get to the high HR rates it needs to see to compute a value. Also I have got a reasonable value in a “normal” run actually doing a sort of lactate threshold run where my pulse started low, rose steadily to LT level and then pushed a bit past it. It was about 10K to half marathon effort. A key thing to note with the LT test is that, unlike VO2 Max, you actually need to run at LT level and above (which is pretty hard) to get a value. Curiously, despite VO2 Max being a maximal indicator – so harder than LT level, you can get a value with that effectively doing a fairly easy run.
Yup, I believe I was in the zones (as expected, it might take 20-30 seconds to ramp up a HR as you shift from step to step). For example, the last step called for 178-188, and it was to last 3 minutes. It took me about 20 seconds to get above 178, and then held it till the test told me to stop.
Here’s a test from this afternoon: link to connect.garmin.com
In my opinion, if the test needed me to continue running at a harder intensity (i.e. higher), then it ideally would tell me to continue to the next step. This is pretty much how BSX works as well.
I’d love for Garmin to publish a bit more detail on what might trigger it during normal runs. For example, if I wanted to simply build a workout that would contain the necessary components in it to likely trigger a new LT value, that’d be ideal (surely this must be known since it’s coded into the watch).
I would say your pace and HR were not so obviously correlated there. For instance I can see your were at 6:15 pace both at 170 and 180 HR. My latest LT “detection” was in link to connect.garmin.com at about 34:30 when I did a mile hard within a fairly hard run anyway where HR and pace both rose fairly smoothly.
Ray – One thing to note on the sensor pairing (not sure if you saw my most recent follow up comments on the forums about this). The sensors are not actually paired in the sensors menu on this unit. The sensors are supposed to pair automatically when you launch the activity that would use that sensor. The sensor menu simply shows the sensors that have been paired. Needless to say, the pairing process is still wonky. In my experience (and the experience of others) you have to pair all the sensors at once. Example – to pair the HRM and the Spd/Cadence sensor you simply go into the “Bike” activity and boom, they both pair (if you’re wearing the HRM and you spin the wheel to activate the sensor.
I’m fairly confident Garmin will confirm this was their intention. It was meant to be painless and automatic. In reality, if you already have a sensor paired (those of us who ordered the bundle the HRM came paired) it makes it nearly impossible to add another sensor such as the Spd/Cadence sensor without removing all sensors and adding them back via launching an activity.
Some people seem to be having a lot more problems than others in this regard and have heard of some people having to exchange devices to get it to work. Personally it’s largely been OK. HR straps tend to pair “automatically” but have had success with say foot pods and bike sensors going into the Sensors & Accessories section on the watch for pairing. Sometimes I have had to take my 630 off to allow me to bring it right up to the sensor. Once paired and it is in your “sensor pool” it is a lot easier to pair subsequently.
Thanks for the review, Ray!
Wondering if the “sensor pool concept” made it into the final version?
The back light is definitely a bit of an issue for me. The watch is easily readable in normal day light and in the dark (with the back light on) but it is in dim light that I have issues. Too dark for natural light to make it readable but not dark enough for the back light to do enough good.
I never had any issues with the back light on the 620.
Great post Ray (a little shorter than I expected)
One thing to note about the Stress Score is that you did it while laying down, when actually the unit asks for the test to be performed while standing still for three minutes.
Maybe that’s why your values were very low?
Yeah, I’ve tried it standing up as well – virtually identical scores.
I think the way it quantifies stress is a bit on the dull side anyway, as I did the test after a run once, so my heart rate was virtually higher than usual, and I got a 95 score, when in reality, the run itself was a stress reliever so to speak.
I re-did the test today midday and got 38, so I don’t know what to take from it.
Yes, I too was going to point out it says you should be standing. Also, I think it is a physical stress score, not how stressed out you are.
The first 5 or so times I did the test I also got only 1’s. Next several I got 12’s. Then just this morning, after doing a 4.8 TE (ie stressful) run yesterday, it showed a 37. So there actually might be something to it.
I had the same thoughts when I saw DC laying down.
When I perform the stress score test I allways does it standing up as advised on the screen on the watch.
And I get readings from 1 to 58 in the stress score.
So just my Barracks-Know-It-All knowledge the Stress Score is calculating off Heart Rate Variability. I think Garmin mentioned it in their youtube video on the Stress Score. After doing some more internet research on this particular data set basically a high HRV means your heart is physically less stressed and vice versa. The key to the data though is the baseline, so Garmin saying to stand up to do it is it setting a constant standard. You could do it always sitting or always in a hand stand, after a number of these tests it will develop a baseline and adjust future scores off that. In my opinion though I think this is where the Garmin test is ultimately going to be as useful as their Recovery Check during a run. Since you have to do develop a baseline and there is no way to go back in tell the test something you found out later to adjust that baseline. What I’ve found out from my research and own testing using the EliteHRV app for the iPhone is that physiological conditions can alter the number, IE having a cold, pre-race anxiety, etc. I had a long run last week that I had taken a day off before it, slept well and ate well. However, the morning of the run I was anxious about if I could make my desired pace and just completing the run with the millions of other things I had to do that day. Ultimately I think that threw my number off because it gave me a middle of the road value slightly higher than my baseline, however the next day when I was still physically and emotionally exhausted from that run I was apparently ready to take on the world.
Again, although I think Garmin venturing into this data field will help some people with their training I think like the Recovery Check it isn’t going to be very useful. If you use it just make sure you get a good baseline and mark things like workouts you did the day previous, amount of sleep you got the night before, nutrition and finally what kind of mood you were in in reference to you upcoming day.
Just my two cents, it’s definitely an interesting date set that could really help people develop their training schedules. I would just happen to look to a more robust platform for data collection.
Thanks. I’ve added some shots from before when I also did it standing up as well. Appreciate it!
As for recovery check – keep in mind that Garmin actually had that since the FR620, though there it was near-impossible to get a bad score (it was always too nice).
That said, I think Garmin should clarify a bit on what type of stress the score is focusing on. Is it that your body is ‘stressed’ from a hard workout, or rather just a higher level of stress in general?
The manual states: “Stress score is the result of a three-minute test performed while standing still, where the Forerunner® device analyzes heart rate variability to determine your overall stress. Training, sleep, nutrition, and general life stress all impact how a runner performs.”
But to me it just doesn’t seem like (for me) it was really figuring anything out.
Lo and behold I got “Fair” on a 920 today and -7 for performance condition initially on my 630. I needed to do a 15 miler yesterday at marathon pace to be suitably knackered however and I was! After 20 slowish miles I had however “recovered” to -2 and I did feel bit better after the initial “dizzy” start. So encouraging in a way it was showing reasonably well what I was feeling…
This is such a small thing to nitpick on an otherwise so comprehensive and excellent review, but the 630’s music control really can’t control Spotify? The 235 can on my Samsung S4 (even with Spotify Connect playing music on another device). In the Garmin Connect app there’s an option to select the default music player.
I’m just surprised that a minor feature like that wouldn’t be available on the higher-end watch while available on the mid-range watch.
I’d test this with the 630 and an iPhone but *gazes lovingly at new 235 on wrist* I don’t have the money/inclination at the moment.
It might be a platform difference regarding this between Android and iOS.
Correct, it’s an iOS/Android thing. I’ll note it.
you wrote “…it’ll start recording. You can pause that at any time too by pressing the same button…” – that is not the possibility with 620. How you can differentiate between stopping recording and just pausing? It is on 920, I really miss it on 620. Thank you
It’s on the 620 too. Just press the little ‘back’ icon if you want to just be ‘resumed’. If you want to save/end, then you press save.
Or am I misunderstanding the question?
No, you understand very well, I didn´t know that:-)). Thank you!
thanks for this great review ray.
what do you think about the charging clip? it looks a bit feeble. i love the clip of my F3 which firmly holds the watch
Works fine. It is also very light and would be possible to charge it while running and still on your wrist. Think Ray posted a picture of this on the first look review.
What about loudness of sound/vibration alerts, metronome et similia?
fenix3 is a bit disappointing on this feature: all sounds are way too quite and vibration is hardly felt, specially on faster paces.
Sounds and vibration are very weak on mine at least. Not nearly as good as the 620. It is really easy to miss both the vibration and sound. Seems like the 920 that I had for a few months was similarly poor here.
Thanks Ray, your Cow Tipping activity profile just made me laugh harder than I have for a while.
I’ll go ahead and set that up on my 920 shortly, cheers!
Very important to get accurate HR readings while cow tipping. I would suggest one of the newer straps (and stay away from optical).
Important note for anyone who wants to use HR based workouts – Garmin Connect doesn’t do these. It will happily let you create something where you run until your HR goes above a threshold or in a zone and recover until it drops to a certain threshold but sadly there is a bug where it uses < for both so the resulting workout is useless. This was logged a year ago and Garmin have for one reason or another decided not to fix it, and clearly have not been testing this functionality on any of the 5? watches released in that time. Coming from a Polar background and heavily using HR in workouts this is extremely annoying.
It's possible to use their old software to create a working file if you have a Mac or PC, but this software doesn't seem to be actively maintained so it's pot luck how long that will last.
On the backlight issue – I always turn my brightness down on the Fenix 3 to get better battery life and to stop it ruining my night vision so a dimmer screen would be fine with me!
I’ve been doing HR-based workouts from the Training Plans provided by Garmin Connect, and I got no issues on the 620 and it seems fine on the 630 too!
Maybe I misunderstood your statement though, what exactly is the bug?
For example, I had no issues doing workouts that require running 8 minutes @ Z4 or a 20 minutes @ Z2
Do you mean workouts in which one manually sets a HR range?
Dave, I had the same problem as Harith of perhaps not understanding what you meant when you said there was a bug and when you said, “so the resulting workout is useless.” Please clarify. I use and coach using HR zones so it’s an important issue for me and might lead me to buy and recommend another brand. There’s some ambiguity in your comment that’s confusing at least 2 of us. If you did the workout, it’s not useless, so I’m not clear on what you were trying to say. Thanks!
Basically, using HR for recovery workouts you’d want to run until you hit a certain HR and then recover until your HR drops below a certain figure. This is a very standard workout which uses HR measurement to control the workout as opposed to using time to control the workout with zones, which achieves something different entirely.
So, in Connect set up your workout with a warmup based on time, then repeats which run until HR > 160 (for instance), then recovery until HR < 120 (for instance) and then a warm down of 5 minutes.
Download this workout to your device and it won't work because there is a bug which causes them both to have a and one <. This causes the workout to immediately complete because your HR will be below the target for both when you start. As I said, it's possible to use the no longer maintained desktop software to create these but Garmin has ignored this trivial to fix issue for a year.
But they can tell you how high you’re bouncing while you run [slow clap]
Don’t even get me started on the activity immediately stopping after the workout. Maybe there’s an option for the activity to not pause on completion but I have yet to find it!
Sorry, HTML has made some of the greater than and less than symbols disappear but hopefully you get the gist 🙂
Thanks for the clarification, to be honest I never had a workout structured in this way, so I can’t comment, but it certainly is a bummer that it doesn’t work.
Actually, I’m not sure what Dave Lusty is saying. I’ve been using structured HR workouts on garmin connect for 4 years now, starting with a 610, then 620, Fenix 2, and now Fenix 3. I have never encountered a bug anywhere. And I have approximately 2 pages of different hr based workouts that i have built up. So perhaps Dave doesn’t know how to configure them properly.
Thanks for the clarification, Dave. This is exactly a kind of workout I do and ask clients to do, so this is an issue for me. Who does a better job than Garmin?
Dave – don’t you just need to add a warm down step at the end of your main workout. Something like run until lap press.
I do recall this problem with the HR recovery steps. Sadly though that is a Garmin Connect issue and not one with a 630 or any other device for that matter. I seem to recall reporting the fault to Garmin so shame they haven’t fixed it. Maybe not many people use this type of step. I am a bit “old fashioned” and just take timed recoveries or jog a certain distance recoveries in the main
No Tim, run until lap press isn’t HR training it’s manual training. Would it be OK if I suggested you manually enter your distance to fix a GPS bug?
You’re right, it’s not a bug on the 630 or Fenix 3 but it does mean that these watches include that bug as a result in the same way that if fuel stations started pumping water rather than petrol (gas) then my car would be no good – my car would work fine but I still can’t use it as advertised.
You’re right, it’s clear that in the Garmin universe not many people seem to use HR based training but there have been a few posts on the forums about this bug, mainly from Polar converts where HR training is very common. I guess this highlights the different approaches of the two companies.
You should try HR based workouts some time – they can help improve recovery time by using your body measurements to decide when you’re good to go again rather than a clock 🙂
Dave – I was responding to “Don’t even get me started on the activity immediately stopping after the workout”. I thought you wanted a way to have a warm down step at the end… ?
That said, given this current bug, that is what I would also use for this type of recovery and just keep an eye on what was my HR was doing in the same way would also glance at time or distance if doing that type of recovery. Generally I do like to keep an eye on my HR, especially for tempo runs, but some days it can be higher or lower for different reasons so also I like to remain pragmatic.
Ah sorry Tim my bad. Yes I guess that would work but seems an odd way to work rather than just having the option to do free exercise as an ending.
How far is Garmin from rectifying the instant pace issue where it lags 20-30 seconds behind lap pace?
Ignore my question as I see it just asked above. As a previous 235 owner who found the HR just too unreliable, if Garmin can get the instant pace in line then I’d love to consider the 630.
Thanks for the post! 🙂
Is it possible to change the battery of the watch? Or do I have to replace the whole watch if the battery gets broken?
Afraid you can’t change the battery but never heard of anybody having problems with this in recent years with Forerunners.
Ray, stress levels 3, 4 and 5 are for when The Kid comes along.
Well, this watch has the ability to run against a previous workout. It is a shame that this function is not available in FR230/235. It is independent of the other high end features of the watch (running dynamics and the others), but if you want just this feature you must pay a lot more
Just mist one point, there was another heart strap before the HRM 3. The one that was completely black, don’t know if it was the HRM1?
Love to read you reviews! 🙂
Yes. The original FR910XT HRM bundle came with an all-black (v1) strap. The pic should have shown three unique straps for the detachable HRMs.
Yeah, I tried to mostly keep it to ‘currently sold’ HR straps.
Hi Ray, thank you for another comprehensive and informative review!
One brief question: does this model have the capacity to read SmO2 data from the BSXInsight device on a dedicated channel or would it still have to be fed through as Cadence?
What I dont understand: What is the difference between these two hrm straps?
HRM Run v1 and HRM Run v2. As long as the HRM v1 is updated to software version 6.60 (available with the Fenix 3 6.19 beta currently), then it’ll do exactly the same things as the HRM Run v2.
The “red” strap is easier to adjust and perhaps more comfortable and more resilient to spikes long term but that largely remains to be proven.
I’m curious to know if Garmin have implemented foot pod pace and distance for outdoor runs on the FR630, as is now available on the Fenix 3?
Thanks. The ‘yet’ bit is understood.
Can you tell me about the calorie counter on the activity tracker? Mine seems to just count uniformly up to about 2000 calories/day regardless of my step count.
That would be the basal metabolic burn, calories you burn just by being alive (which I presume you are).
Unlike sports watches, the activity trackers do not track exercise calories only.
Yep, that’s what it is, but it’s useless. Is there a way to change it? Thanks
Looks like you get “Active Calories” for your steps outside proper timed runs etc.
Look in Garmin Connect and the Steps, Activities section for a breakdown.
Hi, I have been using the FR 610 + HRM + Footpod + Seiko DM 50 digital metronome very happily and successfully, 2:51.34 PB, for the past three years. In your opinion is it worth me dumping all of the above and shelling out $440 plus for the FR630? Your honest and informed opinion would be much appreciated. Season greetings from Ireland.
My take is if what you have is working for you then there is no compelling reason to change. Sadly these watches don’t make you faster per se although I do think a nice “toy” helps to motivate me to go out and run which just might make me faster or, in my case, slow slowing due to aging! I tried a metronome once and found it really annoying but that would certainly be one less thing to lug round. Foot pod is largely redundant on a 630 outside at the moment as you can’t get pace from it and still get a GPS track at this time. Unclear if it will come later like it did to the 920 and Fenix 3 recently.
I’d agree with Tim. I’d probably skip.
Thanks for the great review, Ray. My interpretation of your review is that this is a good watch but not worth the money. By the way, after following your coverage of the Black Friday/holiday deals, I bought the vivoactive and have been very happy with it so far. Thanks for all of your work.
Value for money always really comes down to whether you are actually interested in the majority of the features. Sounds like you made the right decision for you. Sometimes though people buy a cheaper watch and then wonder why it does not do xyz. It is great of course that Ray tells what us xyz is and how well it all does!
Thanks Tim. And yup, I’d generally agree with your interpretation Matt.
Thanks once more for the in depth review. It answers a lot of questions.
One question remains though – is the running dynamics that the HR strap captures as accurate as a footpod? Or for that matter, will the internal accelerometer work as well as a footpod? Are footpods going the way of the Dodo bird?
I recently bought an Adidas speedcell and all I get from it is cadence. It would be nice to get additional data from a footpod without having to wear a chest strap. Especially if can get HR data from a watch or other sensor. I’ve been hoping that chest straps would be going away but it seems companies are just packing more sensors into them. I notice that Stryd went back to the chest strap too.
One issue is that it is “hard” (OK impossible) to get left/right balance on something you only wear on one foot. I think Garmin tried to consign foot pods to way of the dodo by introducing WDR pace (i.e. from just the watch) and trying to improve GPS current pace. They have made good strides on both but, as they have not quite nailed it yet, foot pods are just about hanging in although personally I only see a need for them on the treadmill. Cadence from the HRM-Run is actually better than a foot pod as it can do single step (odd or even values) whereas footpods can only measure same foot to same foot so all the values are even. Cadence from just the watch (i.e. no HRM-Run or foot pod) is also fine so your speedcell should be redundant.
Thanks for the info Tim!
Thanks for the great review. I’m still torn between the 230/235 and 630. Am I understanding you correctly that you think the inaccuracy of the LT data could be corrected by software updates? Thanks.
In part yes and in part it is often how well you conduct the test or even how well your numbers come out that day. In discussion with Ray further up about his guided test it’s not that obvious to me where his LT actually is just looking at his pace vs HR graph and seemingly the algorithm had trouble too. Similarly I did an actual lab test for LT once and it was actually very hard to seeing the “tipping point” where your blood lactate suddenly increases markedly for increased pace/HR. That is what this is trying to simulate finding.
Is there any difference between the internal antennas of the 230 and the 630? I predominantly run trails and whilst the F3 seems appealing in that area, the GPS inaccuracies make me doubt its abilities. (I understand that the internal antenna on the F3 is something new). For the sake of some running extra’s on the 630, if there is no difference between the 230/630 in so far as GPS capabilities, then I’m wondering if the 230 would end up being an equal performer for a much cheaper price?
Haven’t noticed any difference in GPS accuracy between the 230 or 235 or 630. AFAIK it’s the same “inside”.
Tim, are you seeing any noticeable difference between the accuracy of the GPS track on the 630 compared to the 920?
No Mike – given the general accuracy of these devices nothing “noticeable”. Today in fact I ran for 20 miles and they were only 0.02 miles different.
Regarding the Gen2 of Running Dynamics, does Garmin offer any insights how to utilize this extra sensory feedback ? Said differently, if those measurements can be of any value for amateur runners that want to improve (perhaps running technique, or pointing out any impairments) or are highly targeted for professionals ?
Extra data is cool to look at and collect, but even more cool is using and improving on it, so I wonder if this is worth the added price to 230/235.
As always, nice and complete review! I received my FR630 yesterday and performed my first test runs. One thing I noticed is that when performing a downloaded workout with intervals at a specific pace range (e.g. 3:50 a 4:10), the watch doesn’t warn you when going too fast or too slow. My previous watch (a FR620) just told me to “Go Faster!” or “Slow down!”. Even my very old FR305 did this. Am I missing some setting or is this just a feature they skipped?
It’s in the owners manual under activity settings, look at page 11.
Hmm… obviously I should have mentioned this in my first post. I read the owners manual of course, but just setting a pace alert in the settings is not the same as having the alerts based on paces included in the workout.
When you have an advanced interval training program, this can include different intervals at different paces. E.g. I have a program where I run 400m @ 4:50-5:10, 300m @ 4:25-4:35 and 200m @ 3:50-4:10.
Just setting the high and low pace alert in the settings doesn’t work for this…
It’s a known issue at the moment.
Thanks! Do you also know whether I could have found out this by myself? 😉
If you visit the Garmin 630 forum you probably could have!
I found the topic on the FR630 forum as well, thanks. Contacted Garmin about the issue as well, but the first thing they come up with is restore to factory defaults. I have the feeling this won’t do the trick…
Indeed, that would be a waste of time!
From what I’ve read elsewhere it looks like I need a PC or Mac to setup the initial wifi connection on the 630. I only have Linux machines and I’m sure emulation won’t work for a USB connection. Can someone confirm I need to borrow a PC or Mac? I presume once I’ve done the initial setup (with a borrowed PC) everything else would be fine via wifi (or bluetooth via an Android phone).
I would like to ask about GPS accuracy that you compared with 920XT in the beginning. Are both enable GLONASS? or only GPS? Please tell detail about enable/disable GLONASS in each watch. Thank you.
For all units that support it, GLONASS is enabled (including the FR920XT & FR630).
Thanks for the detailed review. It’s very useful!
One thing that is pretty annoying is the Music Control functionality which is not compatible with Spotify. How did Garmin think here? Do you have any information on whether they’ll fix this in the near future?
Thank you for all your great work!
My understanding is that this is actually an iOS limitation, not a Garmin-desired one (happy to be corrected).
If that is the case, I wouldn’t be able to control Spotify using my Bluetooth car connection 🙂 But I’m pretty sure I can give pause/play/next/previous commands in my car when playing a Spotify playlist.
Right, but that’s technically a peripheral/device, versus an app. Are there examples of other 3rd party apps that can control it? I can’t think of any off-hand, but I mostly use Spotify natively in the app and on Sonos.
(Remember the FR630 is technically telling the GCM app to control it, not iOS itself)
Spotify controls are working on Androidm, you have change the default music app in the Garmin Connect app one the phone
I am interested in the 630, coming from the 610 and then 620. However one item that worries me is that there is a 635 around the corner. Whilst I would run with the HRM on most of the time, there is the odd time that I prefer to run without one, and would accept a hit on battery life, and no running dynamics, in exchange for the ability to do so every now and again.
Was there any news of a 635; I am happy to commit if there isn’t one around the corner.
Garmin hasn’t stated anything near-term in the realm of a FR635 (in fact, they talked about why at this time it doesn’t make sense).
Thanks for the great review.
Is there a Fenix 4 including F3 and newly established 630 features to be expected early next year?
Seems that the latest beta firmware for the fenix 3 already includes all of the 630’s features.
I’d be more interested in comparison with other makers of comparable watches such as Polar or Suunto; particularly for things like GPS accuracy. Rather than comparing with other Garmin watches.
I usually have multiple watches, and many of the runs I did with the FR630 were with the Suunto Ambit3 and Suunto Traverse.
Hi Ray, regarding this: “This weekend I’ll upload the full package of runs and comparative files from all devices, as usual, should you want to do your own comparisons.”
Where will be able to find this? Will you update this review with the links? Thanks.
Just about to pack them up. Sorry! This weekend ended up being slightly more overwhelming than I expected.
Wifi upload. On the 620, one could hit the lower right button and it would force a wifi upload. I haven’t found a way to do this on the 630 yet. Any ideas?
There is a widget with a Sync button on it. So swipe across from the clock page until see it. You need to disable BT by tapping the green BT button and then can try a WiFi sync.
Glad to see spidey back in your good graces. I was worried that you had lost him having not seen him for awhile. Great review as always.
Thanks for this awesome review! I know you don’t like to leave any stone unturned and this is why I enjoy your in-depth reviews so much.
May be something I missed in the text though, …,
– You have not done any thorough testing of the battery life like you usually do. I hear a lof of different opinions on it… Have you actually tested it like the DCR way on your roof and all?
– You have not commented on the accuracy of the wrist accelerometer for doing treadmill workouts. Have you actually tested it? I recall this was problematic in previous watches like the 620, but I figure this should have improved quite a bit now in 2 years of updates…?
thanks a lot
Again, great work!
Done a couple of runs on the treadmill just with “WDR” pace & distance from the watch. It wasn’t bad in terms of distance but, as previously, does not react to pace changes very well. A foot pod is still the best option there but even that requires some experimenting with the calibration factor. I think there is only so far this WDR technology can go as it models arm swing and I can still run fairly well not moving my arms at all.
As for battery I ran 27 miles the other day in about 3:25 and wasn’t about to go flat – unlike me!!! With this one, there is always the option of charging on the go with the activity still recording.
Great review as always. One simple thing I miss on 620 that was on my 305 was the ability to pick a distance on the VP page and you could race him. At the end of the distance the workout and stopwatch would automatically stop.
With the 620 you have to press the button to stop the workout, which is nearly always 0.1, 0.2 of a km over. Not a huge probably obviously, more of a minor inconvenience and I know you can naturally go in and edit it later, which is a bit of a hassle and a workaround.
Is it still the same with the new batch of watches or have Garmin re introduced it?
It carries on. TBH automatically stopping was a bad idea IMHO. For example, you plug in 10K and you do a 10K race and the thing sometimes stops a bit before the finish line due to it thinking you are done when you have not quite.
Tim, I know what you mean. Only ever used it in training and would just enter manually the distance I was going to run.
In a race, a 10K for example, you could have put in 10.2, 10.3 etc just to be on the safe side.
I want to know more about this “Cow Tipping” activity…
Ray,I just got confused… looking for an upgrade for my 620 and was decided to get a 630. One thing that really annoys me on the 620 is the elevation… I run a lot on flat (or almost) and it always shows as I did lots of elevation changes… so I considered a Fenix 3… now, comparing the Fenix 3 and 630 I would say that the Fenix is more complete, incl. a barometer, and does everything that the 630 do plus a lot more. Even though I am mainly a runner (some rare hikking) is it correct to say what I said, that the Fenix3 has all features from the 630 + a lot more? Cheers
The 630 won’t be much different re elevation but, also like the 620, Garmin Connect will, by default, use elevation corrections. With a few exceptions like lactate threshold and stress score the Fenix 3 clearly has more functions,including a barometer. So your choice is really one of form factor and touch screen and indeed if you actually want the other functions. The 630 will feel very like a 620 on your wrist whereas the Fenix 3 is somewhat bigger. I’ve heard of a number of people abandoning the Fenix 3 for that reason but equally there are clearly lots of Fenix 3 users. You might also want to look at a 920 whose barometer I find excellent and think has had a price drop of late.
The correction may work well in somewhere else but not here in the BVI…. but I do agree about the size… thought about the 920… will take a deeper look at it. Tks
BP altitude has its pluses and minuses. Plus is it stays fairly consistent so ascent calculations can be fairly accurate. Minus is that it can stray over time due to environment changes like temperature and atmospheric pressure so it may be less accurate. GPS elevation seems to always be within 50 to 100′ of actual. I often see BP elevation off by 2 to 4 hundred feet after a couple of hours, especially when climbing a mountain.
That’s a valid point indeed… getting complicated now! hehehehe
Any word if some features from the Vivosmart HR, such as Floors/Stairs Climbed and Intensity Minutes, are coming to the FR 630? Seems like they are software features that come come to other activity tracker capable devices.
Ugh, typo. Correction:
…features that could come…
Another Garmin review….
why not review Suunto Traverse that´s in the background all the time?
In my opinion the best trail running watch in the market right now.
Well, I received the 630 before the Traverse. Plus, only a handful of folks have asked for a Traverse post.
That said, I’m surprised your finding it good for trail running. Most people have panned GPS accuracy on it, and I find even in good open signal areas it suffers.
The best trail running watch is still Suunto Ambit.
Traverse is more comfy (to me), GPS module´s finally been removed from the side. Suspect Ambit4 will have the same case. Software seems same as my Ambit3, improved barometer?
GPS w/ Glonasss locks faster than my Fenix3 and no software freeze or partial GPS loss, but I only use in the the norwegian mountains, not in a big city with tall buildings.
The Traverse is best summed up as:
+ Adds Vibration
+ Slimmed down design (removes pod)
– Removes a crapton of features from Ambit series
– Seemingly reduced accuracy in certain situations (I’m still a bit perplexed as sometimes it’s great for me, and sometimes not)
– Higher price than most Ambit units, especially with current sales
so you’re a fan then? 🙂
”…seemingly reduced accuracy in certain situations … ” interesting how subjective here the facts are interpreted, even the Suunto Traverse is not marketed as ‘sport watch’ but aiming for outdoor and trekking activities (but still show pace in seconds incrementals, something that Garmnin thinks it’s not necessary for their native running watches …) with one comparison track over limited distance Suunto Traverse (as a metla housing watch) get’s negatively highlighted in the comments as way off even earlier comparison has been done with watches of questionable GPS accuracy like FR920 or FR230 (with RF favorable plastic housing), luckily Fenix series is not included here otherwise it would be to obviously that somebody tried to talk garmin into higher realm of precision …
Well stated Skoinas…
I’ve got about 5 weeks of usage on the Traverse – in a wide variety of conditions, all with at least 2-3 other GPS units.
Despite ones attempt to spin marketing, I’m not sure how a unit gets ‘more accurate’ when it’s marketed differently. Either it works, or it doesn’t. In fact, historically speaking – every GPS device I used actually gets better accuracy with faster movement rather than slower (I can’t think of a single exception). So I find it tough to believe that somehow the solution is to either A) Slow down, or B) Buy a cheaper and older GPS from the same company.
Still confused. :-/
Thanks DCR, sometimes I like to keep it short and to the point. 🙂
Hi Ray and everyone, me too i would love to hear about the Traverse for (trail) running and hiking; please note i am far away from being a triatlete (running 10k in a little more than an hour:)). I’m a little fed up with my current fenix2 (3rd watch after 2 RMAs – every replacement meant watch was gone for a month). I tried on the Ambit and didnt feel good.
Can you try some “routes” functionality? There’s a IQ widget for that (dwMap) and I wonder if it works like in my 305, when you can follow a course or back to start by a path (not that rediculous arrow 🙂
I’m using it a lot, when running in new places, just for safety.
It’s my only concern before replacing my old 305.
I’ve been playing with dwMap. It does offer basic course and bread crumb functionality but not quite the experience of it built in like the 305, or 920. First, it is a complete app, meaning you only have access to the features of dwMap while using it. You can’t do things like workout’s or, at this point, customize the data fields on the data pages, while you are using the dwMap app. I’d say it’s better than nothing, and I’d probably use it for hiking. But if you are doing a lot of trail running where you want a map, I suspect you will be disappointed.
There have been some issues with the new 23? and 630 but he just released an update that fixes most issues. So he seems motivated to improve it, which is a good thing.
I have been helping the developer of dwMap with some testing on the 230/235/630. There were some device issues to workaround. I did this run with dwMap on a 630 link to connect.garmin.com Looks to have captured all the dynamics stuff fine. He has now also added Auto Lap and Auto Pause as options.
Thanks a lot!
Seems like 920 or Fenix2 is the only choice for me. And I’m not doing triathlons…
Is it possible to use 630 for swimming with the HRM strap(v2)?
How long will the HRM chest strap that is bundled with the 630 last for, as in battery longevity?
Are the 230 and 630 wrist bands interchangeable? (I like the yellow wrist band!)
Not sure if it is a windows problem from my end, but the comparison calculator has stopped working for me, cheers!
Battery for HR straps per Garmin about 1 year based on 1 hour of use a day for 1 year. I have had straps that lasted much longer with more use.
The watch bands for the 230/235/630 are interchangeable. Sadly the straps for the 230 and 630 have been reported to not be as flexible/soft as the strap that comes with the 235.
Note to Ray: I am not auditioning to take over your job.:)
Thanks mate, appreciate it.
The 235 band is softer (think by design to allow you to get it tighter as is often needed with optical HR devices) but I find the 230/630 more than flexible enough and indeed more like a “conventional” strap seen on other Forerunners (except the 225 which is again soft). They are same width so, in theory, could use on either type of device.
Re: the workouts function, the 630 seems to have a major bug: while workouts run fine, i.e. I get alerted when the next segment is up, I get NO alerts when I am inside or outside my pace zone. the 620 did this and it seems like such a no brainer that I’m assuming it’s just an oversight. What good is it to set up pace ranges for various interval workouts if I have to look at my watch every 10 seconds to know if I’m on point.
Also – they need to add volume adjustment.
Thanks for the great review!
Known bug, already reported to Garmin and discussed in the following threads:
– FR630: link to forums.garmin.com
– FR230: link to forums.garmin.com
Hi. Excellent reviews as usual.
I have a Garmin Fenix 3 and I am using the Run Dynamics functionalities. I have read i your review about Stress Score and Lactate Threshold. Where can I get those apps? I tried Connect IQ but could not find them.
Thanks in advance!
Garmin hasn’t made them available to other units.
They made them yesterday with the beta release!
Umm Fenix 3 6.27 beta it seems. Garmin seem to put anything & everything into that device. Wonder if 920 will get it as well…
Nice catch – I hadn’t caught up with my e-mail there yet. Doh!
Question: In your review of the 225/30 you mentioned the ability to add smart reminders. For example, if I wanted to remind myself to hydrate or take a gel or whatever at 3.5 miles and 7 miles, I could set the watch to do so. Can this be done on the 630 as well?
Yes. Via Activity Settings, Alerts, Add New, Custom, Drink/Eat/Turn Around/Go Home/Custom, Time/Distance
Beta 3.25 is released:
link to www8.garmin.com
Changes made from version 3.20 to 3.24:
Improved pace accuracy.
Fixed issues with pace and distance for indoor activities.
Fixed an issue with estimated time to finish for indoor activities.
Fixed an issue with the Start button while using Connect IQ apps.
Improved average stride length calculation accuracy (requires a new HRM-Run with sw ver 3.40, or HRM-Tri with sw ver 4.30).
Anyone knows the difference from 3.24 to 3.25
3.24 is a mistake
Thank you for this extensive review. I was thinking of building at comparison table between 630, 620, and 230 and … it already exist.
I have a TomTom Multisport Cardio last year, because i was looking for a chest free cardio monitoring.
The watch is cool, but i suffer today of various lack in my TT MultiSport Cardio :
Instantaneous pace is unusable for fartleck. It is a complain the forums from various users from the beginning, but Tom tom won’t change.
1/Cardio is not working very well (on my half marathon, it stopped after 10km / on smaller run, it behaves strangely when i am sweating a lot)
2/It is impossible to plan training for the week
3/Impossible to enter some fartleck plans (ex: 200 /600 / 1200 / 600 / 200)
4/No indication of the direction and distance to start point
From what i read, everything is inside the 230 and the 630. My question is on the instantaneous pace.
Is it better than the Tom-tom cardio ? (by better i just mean : instantaneous is not a 30 seconds moving average 😉 , i will be happy with a 5s one).
If not, what would you recommend ?
Thank your for this review.
By the way, I hope you are enjoying your stay in Paris. I saw your message about the events, i was touched. [i was in a business trip in Vegas and San Francisco when this happened, i was also touched by all American attentions. Far away from the picture we have of people that can’t place Paris on a world map] Thank you All.
I haven’t seen any instant pace issues on the FR630 in terms of responsiveness, it works as I’d expect. I said this back a few weeks ago when someone asked as well:
As for responsiveness though, it’s pretty quick for me (and also stable) – I did some toying with that today for example and it seemed quite normal on the responsiveness front.
(Random note: I find it interesting that one person says it responds too quickly, and another too slowly. In other words, folks have different preferences.)
thanks for your reply.
I was looking for a comparison with TomTom MultiSport cardio, because it does not work as i would expect for short interval training.
If anyone here have both, let me know.
as you state, it works as you would expect, and folks have different preferences. So i wonder why vendors does not put an option for that feature (playing on 2 levels of windowing / moving average for example).
I had a TomTom Multisport Cardio and have a FR630 now, so I can probably answer your questions 😉 The problems with the interval training on the TT is exactly the reason why I sold it. Sometimes it took around a minute to update the pace… I contacted TT customer support for this and they just didn’t see the problem… they said… “you don’t need an exact pace, just make sure that you have the feeling you’re running really fast”…
I use my FR630 to do intervals a lot. My old 305 (which I still have) and the 620 (which I sold) were very good for interval training (workouts) and would even warn you when you run too fast or too slow. However, due to a bug in the current FR630 software, this warning is currently not there, but the pace is still on the screen of the watch and is quite accurate. I am confident that a future firmware upgrade will fix the warning issue…
The menu optin of my Garmin Forerunner 630 does not function when the watch is not connected to charging cable. Is the watch defective or am I doing something incorrectly?
Are you holding it? If it’s just laying on a table, the screen won’t work at all.
Does anyone know how to pair a second HRM after pairing the one that comes with the watch?
Where is the interval training on garmin 630?
I have been using the device for 2 month… Well for the price I am a bit disappointed. But mostly due to the software flow. I am totally new with Garmin device.
What I like:
What disappoint me:
-In short, Garmin Connect is totally awkward to use. You cannot set up really the whole watch from the computer or the fun. For example to create a new activity, setup the activities this has to be done from the watch.
-Build quality seems to be a bit light
-General reactivity. Access to different menu is a bit slow.
In short this is nice but not really well finished. I was considering for the bike the EDGE 1000 but I am really split now…
So quick question – the 630 allows you to save your workouts. If you delete all or some of these from your watch, will all of the other reported metrics be lost or altered ? (like threshold levels, VO2, performance condition, lactate threshold, etc)
I know you can only store so many workouts on the watch. So I was just curious what would happen. Does it store in long term memory or is does it reset when you delete workouts,etc. I wasn’t able to find this answer in the review or instruction manual
thanks for any help !!
Verious issues reported under link to forums.garmin.com.
Got it, just at the edge of my search timeframe. So in looking at it, the thread ends in early December – basically when Garmin released a firmware update for the touch screen that improved it for many (including me). You see that in the 2nd to last post in that thread. The last poster it’s unclear if they updated the touchscreen firmware or not before swapping units.
Is your unit fully up to date (use the USB Garmin Webupdater instead, so it ensures you’ve got all the updates, including the hardware component ones).
But given the thread is comparatively pretty old (last post 20 day ago) – if you’re still having problems, I’m afraid you’ve just got a rare bad unit. 🙁
I managed to brick my one-day-old Forerunner 630 last week when I took it during a short swimming session in the Mediterranean sea. I think it did not like the salt. When I realized the watch was dead, I was anxious and went into the user’s guide to double check (my wife was telling me this was maybe not a watch I could use in water, waterproof vs watersistant…) And, I did find in the user’s guide this: ‘Avoid pressing the keys underwater’ ! I think Garmin should think twice before putting such a device on the market, because, yes, I did pressed the start/stop button while in water, and it killed the device.
An excellent review as always; there’s nowhere else I would turn for impartial and comprehensive product reviews.
I’m 90% sure this is a foolish question, but hoped someone from the comments section could close that 10% for me:
Is there any downside to buying a USA model of the 630 when it will be predominantly used in the UK? The savings are significant and I will be in the USA next week.
I know the device is built for use anywhere and I’ve had no issues using my 310XT in a variety of countries but I have some residual concern that somethings in the firmware might be region specific and I will have to live with some sort of compromise.
Any guidance will be greatly appreciated.
Do the Garmin Forerunner 230 and Forerunner 630 synchronize with the Windows 10 Phone Garmin Connect Mobile App?
Do the 230 and 630 require the watches to be connected to the Charging/data clip cable to transfer data to Garmin Connect?
Do either transfer data to Garmin Connect via Wi-Fi?
Besides the following points, what are the differences between the 230 and 630?
Touchscreen on 630
1 more week of battery on 230
Running Dynamics on 630
Trying to identify the $150 difference between the 2 devices.
I am currently using a combo of the Garmin Vivofit and Garmin FR 610, leveraging the template running programs, as well as my own custom training programs entered into Garmin Connect.
I currently use (and LOVE!) the Garmin 620…HRM and cadence is very important to my training regimen…I want to add in the activity (steps) tracking and smartphone notifications…not clear from specs and reviews if the 230/235 has cadence or if it is part of the ‘running dynamics’ package that is only in the 630…any guidance and/or info on that?
Cadence is on all of those – nothing else required. Enjoy!
Thank you for the quick feedback…is cadence built-in on the watch or provided through the heart rate strap?
From further up the page (section on the HRM straps):
“D) All current Garmin running watches give you running cadence, without the need for any HR strap or footpod. This is done via the internal accelerometer.”
One question I have relates to audio feedback.
Is it possible to run listening to music and have the music interrupted say every km with my pace and distance?
I use endomondo on my phone at the moment, but phones are getting bigger and I’m beginning to feel like I should switch to a watch and tiny mp3 player.
Several reports of crashes/clock turns off during cold conditions. Can you speak to garmin on this potential issue/bug.
My feeeling is that the clock somehow feels the battery level is to low and it turns it self off.
link to forums.garmin.com
I am completely confused. As money is not such a big point, i still can’t decide which model to choose 235 or 630. Already i had this August a very bad experience with 225 as after only 3 days the hr stopped working. Do you have finally any suggestions?
Is there a way to set the default Activity Type to something other than running (e.g., strength training)? Or better yet, is there a way to change the “other’ activity to something else, like strength training or crossfit?
I think the default activity is whatever you used last.
As for the other, with the FR630 you can create new activity types (the FR230/235 you can’t).
I am able to find how to add a new activity profile (i.e., i can get ‘strength’ to show up as an option when I hit the upper right button). But when I use this profile, it still uploads to garmin connect as Activity Name = untitled and Activity Type = uncategorized.
Do you know if there is a way to fix this? It is exhausting having to go in to garmin connect each time and change each workout name and type. I found no further specifics in the user manual and it appears that others have had similar issues with the Fenix 3 on the Garmin forum.
I am deciding between 230 and 630. I like possibility to create a new profiles, but it make no sense for me, if it is still uploaded as uncategorized, unnamed (as I read in comments). In this case is it the same like 230. Does anybody have information whether it would be changed with following updates?
Thank you very much.
Just wondered if this upload thing been fixed? Do your named sport profile upload as that or as uncategorized ?
It seems to have been addressed. It now uploads as strength training.
Great review! thanks!
Based on the review, I’m not seeing any reason to get this watch over a 235 if you don’t also get the HRM. I’d be interested to hear from those who own it whether or not that is true.
Unless it works correctly. Last August i had a really bad experience with Garmin 225. Just after 3 days the wrist hr stopped working and i missed a marathon preparation waiting for a new watch. That’s why, because i don’t want anymore to be a Garmin beta tester i think i will buy the 630.
Excellent review and I love the watch! One thing that I just can’t figure out – how to access music controls while on a run. In your review you indicate that Music Controls can be enabled as a data page. I tried to customize the data pages but only can find selections for the data fields such as pace, cadence, HR, etc. It’s a nice long list but no widgets. How did you do it?? Thanks in advance!
OK – I figured it out. For some reason music controls do not appear as an option when customizing the data screens unless I have GPS on and have the HRM connected.
I bought a 630 but returned it as touchscreen was very slow to react and syncing to phone was hit or miss.
I think it was a bad watch but thinking about why I should buy again.
Does the 630 have an auto lock like 620 when it went to sleep as couldn’t find it.
No smart notifications! (BlackBerry classic + Forerunner 630)!
Hi,I now have a BlackBerry Classic and have installed mobile connect. The coupling with the FR630 also works. Unfortunately I do not get smart notifications or no message when I am called, etc. Can anyone help please?
Here’s a question – why can’t I find a way to edit an already-existing Activity Profile? I can edit it when I create it, but I can’t edit it when it already exists? That seems ridiculous.
Is anyone else finding this to be true?
You can delete, or adjust the custom activity profile. I made one called “Boot Camp”, and to edit it, I hit the start button, move to the bootcamp activity (so that the boot camp activity is on the screen, but don’t select it per say), then hit the hamburger button, and go to activity settings. If you want to delete it, once you hit the hamburger button, go to settings instead, and delete it from there.
Great article – very useful! Thank you!
Does anyone know how to decipher the secret code of the color of the hour display when not exercising? Mine is red now but earlier today it was orange. Sometimes it is green. Help?!?
First of all, thanks for all the efforts you make to give us such a clear overview of the pro’s and con’s of all the different products!
I have a technical question regarding the different HR straps, because I’m a little bit confused. I bought a edge 520 bundle. If I’m right, this includes the HRM4. I’m looking for an running watch as well for which I would like to use this HRM4, so I’m considering the forerunner 220/230/620 and 630. I’m only a little bit confused whether the running dynamics will work using the HRM4 or not. As the prices of the 220 and 620 are currently quite low after the release of the 230 and the 630, I’ll probably pick one of these, but if the running dynamics features won’t work on the 620, I’ll see no reason to choose the 620 above the 220.
A second question: is it possible to connect to devices (edge 520 and for example fr 220) to the same HR strap at the same time? Because if so, I would use them both during cycling so that I would still see HRM/Pace/Distance/… on my watch while seeing strava segments on my edge 520 for example.
Thanks a lot for your help!
Hi Ray. Congrats on your blog!
How about the display real state of FR630, please? Is it any bigger than FR620’s?
I have recently purchased a FR620, but I find its screen too small to read data accurately in a snap. Maybe FR630 may be bigger and with better resolution.
What is the minimum lap distance you can set on the FR630
Thanks for the review – do you know how to import a route to the 630? I am doing an ultra and wanted some route finding assistance on my wrist.
I assumed you just manually upload a gpx or crs or tcx to Garmin Connect and then go from there to transfer it.
But seeing as Connect won’t accept any of these file types, where to start? Thanks
no routes on the 630. You could play with the Connect IQ app “dwMap” which does some routing. But there is no built in routing like on the 920 series or the Fenix. Basically no built in mapping what-so-ever. The only navigation is back to start and go to a pre-recorded way point. But those just give you an arrow in the direction you need to go and a direct distance.
I just got my 630 and HRM4. The HRM4 won’t pair. I wonder if the battery is shipping protected (contact blocked) but I’ve no idea how to access the battery to check. Anyone know how to access the battery? Tks
When you were trying pairing, was this while wearing it?
No, but thanks! That solved it.
Not sure if anyone else noticed but why the lock/unlock message has to be displayed for so long? Is something like 5-8 seconds. I find this very irritating. I went for a run, screen locked then checked the watch while running and because I had a long sleeve the “screen locked” message appeared and stayed there like forever. Why not display an icon and let me see the normal screen? And of course if I run with the screen unlocked then the current screen changes as the sleeve touches the screen.
About how many runs does to take to get an accurate time in the race predictor? I’m about 12 runs in and it keeps giving faster race times. The marathon time is about an hour faster than what I can really do.
The thing to keep in mind about race predictor is that it’s based on VO2Max. So if your VO2Max is high, then you’ll get fast numbers.
But these are all about ‘potential’ race times, so your training my vary. But keep in mind that while an hour drop may sound massive, with the right engine (VO2), and the right training, you can get there (my first marathon was 4:20, and subsequently dropped it over 2 years down to 2:54).
Thanks for the reply.
According to the watch my VO2Max is high. Is it possible that this is wrong?
If the predictor is telling me what is theoretically possible, then that’s nice because it’s about thirty minutes faster than my very ambitious long term goal (18 months).
What’s it guesstimate?
Ultimately, it isn’t perfect, but it usually pretty close for most. You can get outliers though, which then has a cascading effect on other metrics (like the estimate).
What VO2Max predictors show is what your potential is, not what time you could necessarily do now. What you’re seeing is that your speed is better developed than your endurance and/or stamina. If you were to develop the others to the same level, once you had done that work, you would be expected to run a marathon at about the time predicted (depending upon how good their algorithm is). I had a similar experience at one point. My 10K times yielded a VO2Max equivalent to the VO2Max of someone who ran a marathon an hour faster than I was running them. It taught me I didn’t need to spend any more time working on my speed. It was already the best developed component of my running game. Switching my focus off of speedwork to endurance and stamina training, within a year I had knocked that 1 hour off my marathon. That was really useful information for me to have; it helped redirect the focus of my training. It seems it could be similarly useful for you. Hope this was helpful!
That’s great that you’ve been able to improve your times.
It’s interesting that I am the opposite in that I have the endurance but am working on the speed. So in Sept. 2014 I ran a marathon in 5:47 then a year later it was 5:04. I’m running a marathon in two weeks and think I will be able to hit the neighborhood of 4:30. My after this race is to work on speed so that I can qualify for Boston in 2018. To do so I need to be under 4:10 and am aiming for a 4 hour marathon. But the watch says I can do 3:35, which would be totally amazing… and why I was/am questioning it. 3:35 is definitely something to train for!
Ray, what type of training did you do to get this improvement? I have a similar issue as others here, the race predictor is way off on all distances (VO2Max of 53, predicting a marathon finishing time of close to 3 hours, I’m hoping for 3:50 in Paris in April). From races and training I’ve done, performances translate pretty well across the distances according to published tables. Does this just mean I have terrible running economy?
I have a 630 and a foot pod, but my distances are way too short. I have worn the foot pod outside (7-8 runs) as per the instructions to calibrate itself but nothing has changed on the calibration factor.
Is there something else I need to do??
Hi, what is the difference between the HRM3 and HRM4(2015)?
Fwiw the construction of the 630 is noticeably better than the 230/235. Buttons are less flimsy and plasticy.
I was wondering about this.. Thanks for the confirmation!
Bought the watch a while back and love it. But unless I’m being completely daft – it doesn’t do routes?
Had a fenix 2 before this and a forerunner 301 and a 310 and all of these allowed route creation in garmin connect and then download to the watch for following while running (lots of country roads – don’t want to get lost!).
Ive tried to add a route to the 630 but no idea how to access it?
Does it not allow it?
After using the 630 for two weeks i would like to see:
1. a extra conformation screen to stop an activity completely; now it happens to often that i accidentally push SAVE when i push stop during an exercise for bathroom brake for example. Then i have to start a complete new activity.= annoying
2. Better accuracy arrow during back to start(very slow) Can i calibrate it??
3. And arrow back to start also in other screens visible(like fenix 3). A small arrow on the edge
One thing I wonder about that I couldn’t easily find in the documentation – how does the watch connect to the internet to fetch data for apps (weather data, for example, or data from specific servers some apps need)?
I would think it would need to be on a known WiFi network, or somehow routes its requests through the Garmin app on my phone. I couldn’t find anything saying that random network requests could be routed through my phone, however; just the specific ones Garmin mentions that their phone app supports.
Does the Garmin phone app provide generic internet access to the watch, then?
The ConnectIQ interface lets you make web requests to any URL via the phone app. And it will at least pass through JSON (data) and image responses to the Garmin device. Not sure what the phone app will do with data of other types. Watch faces and data fields don’t have access to this however. Widgets (like the weather and notifications pages) and full apps do however.
My garmin 630 does not turn on. I Connected the device to computer but nothing happened.
Thanks for the great review!
Thanks for the great review, Ray. I was considering purchasing the 230/235 or the 630. But after reading all the issues people are having with the wrist based HR on the 235, the complaints about no pace alerts with the 230/235 and the issues with the touch screen on the 630, I’m now considering the Fenix 3. I currently have a 305 and before that ran with a 205. I don’t do triathlons. I just run. But I do like to make custom workouts and set pace zones, so that my watch beeps when I’m outside of the pace set. I had thought I wanted the wrist based HR, but with all the inconsistencies, I think I can just wear a strap when I run and skip the 24-7 HR. Now that the Fenix 3 has all the features of the 630, but without the touchscreen, it’s looking like what I want. Has anyone else decided on the Fenix 3 over the 230/235 or 630? I’m also wondering if the plastic strap is as comfortable on the Fenix as the one on the 230/235? Thanks.
I wouldn’t want the Fenix 3 if your main activity is running. I purchased a 630 this week from Clever Training and it is FANTASTIC. The touch screen has given me absolutely zero issues thus far. Maybe there were issues when it was first released, but either the new units or the new software updates have fixed any initial issues. The new HR monitor seems very accurate and is plenty comfortable. The watch is very high quality and I look forward to improve my running this year with motivation I get from using this watch. If I were you I would quit reading forums, buy the 630, and get outside and enjoy it! =]
Is there a way to turn off the built in accelerometer? During indoor track workouts, it records my distance (quite terribly, off by .15 miles). I will have run 1 mile but it records 1.15 miles, throwing off my personal records (i wish i was 15% faster!)
Let me know.
Since the new upgrade my 920s indoor running is of by 50 sec faster/km . I have never had that big of a difference before.
Regarding GCT balance i get 0% left 100% right, does that mean that the HRM strap firmware is not up to date? What do i need to do?
I’m using it for some time now. Works fine. Only one big isue for me. When running in longsleeves (or rain) it starts messing with the touch screen. Sometimes it accidently got into settings mode and messes up my watch completly.
Holding the bottom-left button makes it possible to lock. But that doesn’t only lock the touchscreen but also the other buttons! So when i want to push for a lap or finish i have to unlock first. Frustrating!
I should be easy for garmin to make new firmware. For example: Push the lock button for three secs > only the touch screen is locked. Holding it for 6 secs > complete lock.
Does anyone know how to replace the battery on the HRM that comes with the 630. Do you remove the red surround first? If so how… brute force, use a lever? No instructions with the device.
Another quick question. I presume I accidentally activated a setting but every 10 mins during a run my 630 is ringing a loud alarm and displaying the message ‘3:00 Drink’. Any ideas on how to disable? Tks
I’d like to point out the missing barometric senosor. In my training I barely do anything but run, but still I consider the 910/920 superior to the 630 because of the barometric sensor. Living in a bit hilly city, the elevation profiles of my buddies running with watches without this feature are way off, while mine from the 910 is fairly accurate. As runner’s watches I think that the 2xx/6xx has a somewhat narrow consideration of what running encompasses. On a hilly run, or even your long run, you want your elevation profile to be trustworthy.
I am constantly returning/donating watches because I have a metal allergy. Could you advise what type of back plate is used on this watch (Garmin FR-630) and also the Garmin FR-230/235? And also if the clasps are metal?
Appreciate your website & recommendations. Recently found my way here via friend recommendation.
I’m looking for a 620’s box to upgrade to the 630. I think my my wife threw it away and the watch is only two weeks old. If you have an old 620 box you can part would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance!
I recently bought the FR 630 and I’m very satisfied with the unit!
I only have one point that is annoying me, since the rest appears to work fine.
Despite all the smart functions works ( music control, weather forecast, smart notications), the calendar notifications simply shows the actual date and that it does not exists future events. I tried to manage it by different forms in the iphone calendar, but it simple doesn’t work.
Any considerations about how this function works?
Thanks in advance!
I am deciding between 230 and 630. I like possibility to create a new profiles, but it make no sense for me, if it is still uploaded as uncategorized, unnamed (as I read in comments). In this case is it the same like 230. Does anybody have information whether it would be changed with following updates?
Thank you very much.
I can’t imagine it would be any different on the 230 or 235. It is a bummer that the other custom activities on the 630 (such as “Indoor Row” or “Weightlifting”) upload as uncategorized. Hopefully, they will fix that with a software update, but I won’t hold my breath. I will say I am thoroughly enjoying the 630 and I would definitely recommend it if your main activity is running.
I purchased a 630 from Clever Training and I’m very pleased. Great deal with the 10% off and they shipped very quickly with priority mail. I just received it today so have not tried it yet. Thanks for the great reviews!
I have a Garmin Forerunner 620. I love the watch, but it will not charge and track a run at the same time. As soon as it is connected to a power source, it will end an activity and focus only on charging. Do you know if the 630 allows for charging and tracking at the same time? I have heard the Fenix does. Do you know if that is true? So far, I am forced to use the Suunto Ambit 3 for this feature, but I am looking for a different device.
Thanks for your help and great review!
Yes, the FR630 supports charging on the go. Enjoy!
Thanks for the response! Do you know what happens to the screen and button functionality when it is charging? For instance, the Fenix 3 (after some research yesterday) can be switched between USB mass storage and Garmin mode. In Garmin mode, the watch maintains all functionality, in USB mode it still charges and tracks but no info is shown on the screen and the buttons or inactive.
Well dang, I already scratched the 630 screen. Does anyone know what material the screen is and if I can polish it with something like polywatch scratch remover? It’s a small scratch, but it’s a bummer after only owning it a week. Ha
I’m currently using the Garmin Forerunner 610 (I know I know get with the times I hear you all say) and am looking to upgrade. My reasons for doing so is that I’ve outgrown the need to use my computer to synchronise and want a more slick solution to running (syncing with my phone and admittedly to help my motivation for running believe it or not!). Furthermore, I want a device that has all of the functions I use on my 610 namely the Virtual Pacer and Virtual Race functions. I think I’ve ruled out the 620 and 225 although I’ll still be looking at the 620 in some depth later. The argument I am failing to answer for myself is whether to choose the 630 or 920XT.
Let me get this across to you avid fitness experts…I am not keen on doing a triathlon/swimming/cycling however I find myself liking the ability to create runs via MapMyRun or other solutions and exporting them to my device to then follow at a later date and them being self contained within the unit (therefore not reliant on synchronising with the computer all the time). If I get lost (as I am not over familiar with the place I live believe it or not) this then leads me onto why its a toss up between the two devices. The 630 would allow me to drop dwmap onto the device and use that along with the added benefit of it being much cheaper than the 920XT and having all the functionality of the 610 that I would like. However, reading the comments dwmap is still in it’s early development stages and does not come close to the functionality/user friendliness of following a course on the 920XT.
I am not expecting you all to make a decision for me of course but some insight into someone who has experienced both devices who may be able to shed some light on my own deliberation above?
Thank you all in advance!
HELP! Run 35-45 miles a week in forests around Bend, OR (Cascade Mountains). Spent hours trying to find good watch. Prefer easy to use watch where I really only need (but know I will get more) the following: Time, reasonably accurate DISTANCE and ALTITUDE. Battery life can be only OK as my runs usually 1-2 hours at most. Prefer being able to access info right on watch, not have to go to phone or my MacBook Air. Willing to pay just about anything for the above.
I also cycle and backpack but RUNNING is my focus. Do not care about heart rate and all the other fandangos.
Thank you VERY MUCH. Any help very much appreciated.
Any help would be more than APPRECIATED. All this info has given me a headache.
Thanks! This review was the reason to select the FR630, even though I was aiming for the Fenix 3 but it’s way to large for my tiny arms ;-).
The touchscreen works very well however if I wear even light gloves I can’t use it at all!
It’s no big deal as you can still start and stop an activity without using the touchscreen and even start a new lap.
I find the display a bit hard to read in certain light condition and angel of view if you have a darker background on the display.
I’ve used this little nail-polish like stuff called Nanotips on some gloves in the past for electronic devices that are finicky, might help: link to amzn.to
It may seem tacky, but I’ve found that just a quick lick of the tip of my glove finger will allow good touchscreen use. Pretty easy too as, well, my mouth is always handy while running.
I want to get this watch for triathlons and training. I mostly run and ride but want to be able to record swims. I don’t mind so much about all the swimming matrices. I am confused as to what this watch can/can’t do with swims. If I have a HRM on and start recording why would it not work? From my understanding I can create a sport profile for it, the GPS can record distance and speed if i swim outside…
No, the HRM data won’t transmit through water more than about an inch, so it won’t work there. Also, for outdoor swims it won’t do proper tracking since it doesn’t have an openwater swim mode.
Even without an open water mode, why would a normal GPS signal not work?
Sorry to keeping harping in about this, I just want to understand the issue.
Each time you go underwater the unit loses GPS signal, it has about .5-seconds to regain it. It doesn’t do that accurately. So it might know roughly where you are – perhaps 10feet away, or perhaps 100-meters away. In order to deal with that (every stroke), companies add in filters to try and determine where you actually are by taking all these points and making sense of them.
This (very old) post explains what it was like the week Garmin first introduced openwater swim mode, and why it mattered: link to dcrainmaker.com
I have a technical question for you. I uploaded a route in my garmin epix for navigation purposes (i run with both an epix on one hand a garmin 630 on the other hand). The route via Mapmyrun and Garmin Connect was 19.00 and 19.01 miles respectively. Yet when i ran the actual course, i didnt reach 19 miles until about .4 miles passed the distance. Is there a way to upload a course and have a watch (either epix or forerunner) use the course uploaded and not the watches GPS when figuring out distance? Do you have any ideas how to increase my accuracy? Im thinking about using a footpod but i like to run the first 75% of my long runs at an easy pace (about 7:45/m) and the last 25% at marathon pace (about 6:52/m) so im not sure what speed i would calibrate the footpod in anyways.
Looking forward to your wisdom.
Do you know if it is possible to show my performance condition at the end of my run? After 6 min. i get a number but after the run i can’t find it back. And it would be good to be able to see this in garmin connect dashboard; as a graphic how the progress during month or year is
The performance condition is actually a deviation from your VO2max, so there is probably less benefit to show this as a graph over a certain period. It actually changes during your run as you become more fatigue.
You can add performance condition as a field to a data screen for your training.
Doing so will show you that you might start for example with a +5 and end after your run with a +3.
Here is a video describing performance condition more detailed:
link to youtu.be
Okay thanx; didn’t know it could change during a run. thanx
Im thinking about upgrading from a 620 to a 630 and Im wondering about the race against a time/distance setting. More specifically I’m interested in knowing if it actually works for a marathon race/finish time and what information is actually displayed on the screen.
Can you set up alerts for example if you know the average pace you need to run to finish at the specified time and it lets you know if you are under or over that pace? And how quickly does it recalculate the “new” estimated finish time?
Finally, if you use this option during a race, can you still see the other configured screens?
I am having trouble with the Steps (non GPS) accuracy. I have found my apple phone is very accurate as I walk the same distance to work every day. My Garmin 630 is up to 40%-50% over the actual distance I walk everyday. Is there a way to calculate this feature?
Ray, do you think the battery life of the FR630 is worth the extra coin for this watch compared to the FR235? In your “summary” section, it sounds like the battery on your 235 is an issue. I currently have the FR620 and will either upgrade to the 630 or 235. I thought I was sure on the 630 until reading that you would choose the 235 as your running only watch. Whatever I choose will be my running only watch as well.
The thing to keep in mind, is that if battery is a key concern, you can always temporarily disable the optical HR sensor and use a HR strap instead if you’re in a bind.
Ray, I finally pulled the trigger and got the FR630. out of the box each running mode screen has 3 fields on it. do you know how I can disable the fields down to 1 or even 2? Also, is there any way to disable the metrics screen should I not want that data on my scroll? One more question I’m having trouble with; how do I set my lap button to 1 mile?
as always, thanks for your time.
Ray, disregard all my questions. I figured out how to change them.
Hi, First at all, nice review!
When I put the watch on my wrist, the touchscreen doesn’t work, indeed, I cannot select language for first configuration.
From Garmin Support recommended me to do a calibration of touch screen, but they haven’t sent me the instructions for enter into calibration mode.
In conclusion, my device is bad calibrated or it’s broken….
Could anyone say to me which it is the button combination for enter into touchscreen calibration mode?
Thanks in advance!
Does anyone else’s 630 data fields change by themselves when you press start ie switch from miles to km’s or just change to pace on three segments rather than what I’ve picked.
V frustrating and don’t know how to resolve as its not happening through me changing it
Is it possible to use it for weights training? Can it calculate V02 and recovery in this case? Or is only for running?
I cannot run in my city, it’s too much pollution. I like it as a watch and activity tracking, but what about the other features? Should I buy a fitness band only? I’m kind of confuzed
Thank you for your great reviews! Could you tell me please the difference between the HRM-Run V1 (2013) and HRM-Run V2 (2015). Soon i’ll get my new fenix 3 and i think it will be delivered with version v1. Do i need to upgrade to verssion v2 or is there no difference, then the design?
The fenix will update the HRM-Run so you’ll get the same running dynamics as you would with the new one. Afterwards there will be no difference beside the design.
Thank you very much Matthias!
Is anyone having issues today with the time/date on their Garmin? Right now it’s April 24, 4:18 but my Garmin says its March 31, 11:13.
I’ve turned it off and on a couple times but I still have the same issue. It was fine this morning when I was on my long run.
Step outside. GPS will correct time.
Hi. Very informative and useful review as always. I have one question… Do you or anyone have used the FR630 for every day watch? I am currently using the vivoctive, I like it but I miss a lot the Running Dynamics, Vo2max, recovery advisor, etc, etc from the FR920XT that was very ugly as an everyday watch/activity tracker, especially for office outfit.
I’m trying to decide between FR630 and Fenix 3 or F3 HR. I am a runner, I am not into cycling, swimming, hiking, Tris, etc, etc. I only run 3 – 4 times a week and some strength training a couple of sessions per week. Probably Fenix 3 is too much in features and especially size (I have a 16cm wrist) but has very good reviews as everyday watch and I’m afraid that FR630 isn’t.
Thanks in advance.
The FR630 does look and feel a lot cheaper than the Fenix does however it’s smaller and lightweight.
I wasn’t able to wear the Fenix under my shirt cuff so I had to go for the FR630.
The display of the Fenix is better than the FR630 – the FR630 is sometimes hard to read in low light conditions. One reason why I can’t use one of those shiny watchfaces. I do use know the standard digital watchface with black numbers on white background – which looks really cheap(see above)
The vibration alert of the FR630 sounds like those cheap milk frothers 😉 which is a shame as the MiBand for 10USD is a lot better at this point.
I use the FR630 since two months as an everyday watch and I really like it since I accepted the small odds and ends.
Thanks Matthias… After reading your reply, I was worried about 630 been so ugly, so I go to a store yesterday and tried the fenix 3 sapphire and the FR 630.
FR630 looks good but there’s a lot of difference with the F3. It is $200 cheaper too, so I think it’s probably fair and I believe they don’t sell a lot of units so maybe I can have a discount.
Fenix 3 finishing its really gorgous but… it’s toooooooooo big and really heavy. I can live with the heavy but I am a little thin on the wrist (16cm) so… I really think I look like a complete dork with it.
In the everyday watch thing, I see that FR630 has all the features I like from the vivoactive especially notifications, music control and that’s cool. It is a little bit bigger (than vivoactive) but not to much and I can have again the running dynamics, vo2max, training effect, etc, etc that I miss. And yes, I can use it under my shirt cuff. 🙂
I have got a garmin 630 but I changed by broadband company last week, t can not find out how to change this detail. This means I have to plug the watch into the computer instead of it just updating with the wifi.
Does anyone who how to change this detail
Plug it into your computer, start Garmin Express -> “Extras” and there you configured your Wifi before ;-).
Hi all !
Has anyone experienced the “battery drain” problem on their FR630 ?
Either my device has a flaw or, hopefuly it’s a firmware problem but the battery life on my watch has drastically deteriorated…
Thx for your insight…
I also had issues with battery drain before and changed a few things after that:
– disabled smart notifications first and afterwards bluetooth at all. I think this was the major improvement. Since I sync via WIFI at home I don’t need bluetooth anylonger
– I don’t use a custom/connect IQ watchface as this makes the watch perform slower maybe this is also consuming more battery due to higher CPU load
There’s a very good battery widget which might help you to find out which actions consumes how much battery per hour/day: link to apps.garmin.com
Hi Ray, or any other owners. I’m considering buying either this 630, a 230 or 235 and have a couple of questions that I can’t see answered in your reviews. The following are questions for all 3 models please.
Is the touch-screen usably accurate (presses and swipes) when the screen is damp through light rain or sweat? (I know you said you had trouble with accidental triggering in the shower, but is normal use ok?)
How well protected is the screen? Both in the toughness of the type of glass it’s made from or any raised bezel around the glass?
Any idea on the battery life of the HRM strap?
Thanks in advance.
1) Accuracy: Yes, for the most part very few issues, even in rain (doesn’t work well underwater though, or heavy showers). On touch screens (only 630)
2) Toughness: I treat mine like crap, and it hasn’t broken the plastic. I don’t recall hearing anyone breaking their plastic (at least posting here).
3) It’s about a year, just a coin cell battery. So easy to swap out if need be.
Thanks for that, I think I’ll go for a 630. With the HRM It’s only about £30 more than a 235 at the moment.
I’ve got a 230 and worn it only 4 times and it’s cracked its screen! The plastic seems really brittle. Is the 630 a full glass screen and do you know if it’s as tough as a mobile phone screen?
it’s a similar screen.
But at the same time, I think this would only be the second time I’ve ever heard of someone cracking/breaking a screen on the FR230/235/630. It sounds like the unit might merely have had a manufacturing defect. So I’d just either ring up Garmin, or get the retailer to swap it out.
Great work, Ray!
Question for the very informative comment thread –
I’ve read several other posts from people debating between the 630 and the Fenix 3…Until I read this review I was convinced the Fenix 3 was what I wanted. I’m primarily a trail runner with some occasional road running. I also live in the mountains and hike regularly. I don’t swim, and occasionally bike. I’m mostly looking for all of the running data, which both watches obviously have, as well as reliable elevation data including current and amount of elevation climbed. Wondering if the 630 has different profiles for hiking, trail running, road running, etc. as well as the hill climb mode that the Fenix 3 has?
Now that the 630 also has all of the smart watch features of the Fenix 3 I’m pretty torn as to which is the better watch to go with. I previously had an old 310XT and felt that all of the triathlon specific features were just overkill. Any advice one way or the other would be most appreciated.
The Fenix has a magnetic compass and an barometric altimeter so for hiking and elevation data it might be the better choice.
If you don’t mind the size and weight, the Fenix is almost certainly your best bet. The 630 doesn’t even have an ascent field as it tends to be very inaccurate with GPS based altitude.
The other really big thing for me when hiking or trail running is having basic bread crumb mapping so you can at least see where you’ve been. The 630 doesn’t have that.
The 630 covers me perfectly for 95% of my runs/hikes and is a great every day watch. For the other 5%, I use an Epix that I was able to pick up dirt cheap and has the benefit of full mapping.
My time keeps changing on my Garmin 630, is this happening to anyone else?? Does anyone have a solution?
Well I’ve bought my 630 and it arrived today. Bought on Amazon UK but they shipped it from Germany so it took ages.
I’ve opened it up and had a little fiddle and here are my initial observations:
Physically it actually feels slightly cheap. But I’m not experienced with running watches, and by ‘cheap’ I probably mean ‘lightweight’, which is probably a good thing for running. But the plastic back and the looseness of the strap hinges don’t do it any favours.
The Garmin PC app doesn’t run on Linux – Windows and Mac only.
But in terms of the functionality, it seems very good. The GPS connects really quickly, even indoors.
I’ve had a look at the activities, and there’s a really good level of customisation available here. Does anybody know of a way to change Activity Settings like the screens on the mobile or PC apps? I can’t find it. This would be easier than fiddling with the watch screen.
I think a lot of people think it feels cheap, partly because it is so light weight. They love the fenix in part because it is so heavy. To each his own. I’ll take the lighter weight of plastic any day.
But as far as settings, Garmin has never provided a way to customize from a computer despite people asking for it for several years. At least with the 630, once you get the number of fields per screen set, changing individual fields is easy. Any time a field is being shown, just press and hold the field for a second, and up pops a list of available fields to select from. This is the best part of the touch screen devices.
Totally agree – I’m far more used to ‘proper watches’ than running watches, so I think I just wasn’t expecting it to be so light. And indeed in proper watches, I’ve preferred the feel of steel over more expensive titanium or ceramic versions in the past. Anyway, I took the 630 for a Parkrun today, and it’s light and comfortable enough that I often forgot I was wearing it. The only other running watch I’d used was a Nike Sportwatch. The weight and shape of that seem less suited to running comfort.
Still on the perceived quality front, the 630’s buttons do feel quite nice to press – designers spend a good amount of effort on that sort of thing.
Re. changing display fields, that’s a really handy tip. Thanks. I had found the main way of setting the up, but that press-and-hold method of doing it on the fly could help. Disappointing you can’t do it through the app though.
Can you use a windows or mac emulator to run Garmin Connect within Linux?
Simply the best products reviews site. I’ve decided which product to buy or not buy based mainly on your reviews. Just one doubt left to me: the Forerunner 630 gives us running cadence via the internal accelerometer. I’ve read that a footpod is far more precise. Which one is the more precise for running indoors (treadmill)? Should I buy or not to buy a footpod? Thanks.
I wouldn’t spend my money on the footpod for just cadence. The only times I ever see differences between footpod cadence and wrist cadence is that brief moment when you grab a water bottle or gel packet and consume it. That’s it.
I currently have Polar M400 and I actually love it. My problem is that I am going to be running some mountain ultras which will be in 7+ 7-12 hours territory. The cold weather or even not cold weather would be pushing Polar M400’s battery time ober it’s limit.
It is supposed to be around 8hrs but in GPS + heart rate mode I get max around 5hrs.
Purely because of that I am in the market for a watch with longer battery capacity. I am not interested in optical wrist sensors (accuracy and hairy monkey arm) so I have narrowed down to V800, Garmin 230 and Garmin 630.
I run mainly trails and some biking (definitely no swimming).
Polar V800- The battery operating time in continuous training with normal GPS recording and heart rate is up to 13 hours apparently.
Does anyone know what real world battery life for 630 and 230 is? Is it really 16hrs for both?
Which would be better watch for me out of the 3? Not big fan of touch either although open to it.
Thanks for your time.
If I would decide to use the watch as a cycling computer, would it deliver equally to Edge 1000 in the next areas:
HR(current, zones, average)
GPS(mapping-tracking, don’t care for navigation)
I am asking about accuracy and reliability.
I don’t use a PM, so the lack of that function is irrelevant to me.
For those specific categories, there are pretty much no differences.
Can this watch be shared between family members? How would the tracking work to distinguish between family members using the watch?
Not really. You can certainly give the watch to another member of your family to use temporarily, but there’s no way to separate out things like step tracking from that. Same goes for calorie numbers, which will be off unless you change profile settings.
For just workouts for pace/distance/etc, you can setup your own Garmin Connect account though, and simply manually upload workouts that way. It’s what some people do.
I purchased an iwatch last year, I am running or and more this year and find the iwatch very annoying in the wet the touch screen activates causing works to stop. Has anyone found any issues with the touch screen in the wet?
No real issues here.
Hi. Very thorough review! Just one question – my current FR620 calculates V02max in running mode but not in biking mode. The FR630 seems to be a bit of an improvement for cyclists – does it now calculate V02max in cycling mode and if it does, would it need a speed/cadence sensor to do this?
I tend to go through long periods where I don’t run but I do huge amounts of cycling and having this function in cycling mode would be helpful.
So the 630 wifi and bluetooth. What gives?
Why will it refuse to sync using bluetooth, and report a wifi failure. With the regular wifi network it syncs automatically with no probs. But I just don’t get why it says it needs a wifi network to sync. Bluetooth should do it.
I really don’t know why it needs wifi.
It sounds like something is amiss in the setup/configuration then. You don’t need both, it’s simply giving you different option.
I’d re-pair the the unit to your phone and see if that sets it.
Hi there !
Still wondering about my battery-life issue.
Does anyone know (and know for sure) if it’s necessary to come back to Clock-mode after a workout in order to save battery-life, or do you just stop and save your activity and come back to the clock with the “Return” key” (bottom left) ???
What about FR630 and spinning? Do you recommend a foot pod garmin?
Does this (or any other Garmin watch excluding the Fenix range which are too large for what I want) include a BUILT IN Rowing function/app?
I’m pretty sure the 735XT has it built in.
So I’ve been using my 630 for a while now, and find it very good. But I’ve a bit of an annoyance. Is there a way around this in settings?
I’ll fairly often go for a run that is intervals with recovery in between. Sometimes I fully program this in advance or sometimes I use the change-on-lap-button feature and set an infinitely-repeating run/recover cycle.
Anyway, when I finish, all the stats appear to average everything including the recovery. And when I look down the list of laps for time/pace etc, the list includes the recovery laps but doesn’t clearly mark them. Is it possible to do this workout and then ignore the data from the rest/recovery sections?
The only data I’m at all interested in during the recovery is my heart rate recovery.
I have the Fenix 2 and it really pisses me off with all the crashes that happen. It is junk.
I am thinking about buying the FR 630 since I only run, I don’t do triathlons. However I do not want to spend a fortune.
Can I use the Fenix 2 strap in order to have FULL Running Dynamics on the FR 630? Am I going to miss some features if I do?
Yes, you can use the same strap for full running dynamics.
Also, for your Fenix2 if it’s crashing – then I’d both:
A) Validate you’re on latest firmware
B) Do a hard reset, as it sounds like you likely have some corruption causing the crashing. A hard reset will fix that.
I bought a brand new one on Amazon. The device just won’t start up. I have seen a few similar complaints on the net but no actual root cause or resolution.
Could it be that it arrived with a completely depleted battery, as suggested by someone on the Garmin forum ? When I plugged it into my mac, I got a USB device disconnected error because draining too much power from the slot…
Thanks for any suggestion.
Hold the power button for 20 seconds until it reboots.
Failing that, it could be the charge. Try plugging it into a different USB port (anyone you can find). One trick is that most TV’s and cable boxes these days actually have USB ports – so you can try charging it on that.
Thanks for your reply.
That didn’t work. I tried all the possible USB ports I could find.
I contacted Garmin support which promptly replied and told me to perform a soft reset, but gave me instructions for other devices…
Likely to ship that one back to Amazon.
Got an amazon unit too yesterday. The price of the sale was really good!
Anyway, the problem is that the unit comes depleted. Happened to me too. Just connect the USB cable to a power changer with USB port (I used an iPad charger). Works perfectly 🙂
Hope it helps.
Thanks for your reply.
How long did you leave it plugged into the ipad charger?
I had mine plugged for close to 3 days now, snd still no sign of activity.
wowsa! 3 days. If it isn’t showing signs of life within an hour, something is wrong. Do you see anything on the screen while it is charging?
Nothing. Black screen.
I am shipping it back today. I lost hope.
Ops, seems to be broken then.
Mine got some “charging” info screen the moment i plugged it to the iPad wall charger.
On a side note, i have to say that having two different apps (Garmin Connect and Express) is a bit confusing and took me some time to realise how to update my unit to the last firmware version (4.7).
I just got the Forerunner 630 & am trying to figure it out. Does anyone know if I can use it in the gym on days when I’m not running? I usually do the elliptical & pump class on those days.
Also, while I’m exercising, am I able to know how many calories I am burning WHILE I am working out (the 2 times I have used it, I only get the calories burned reading AFTER my run)?
Yes you can definitely make custom exercises within the FR630. For fun I created one for yard work.
Has anyone noticed their 630 measuring short after the update a couple of days ago. My run buddy has a 230 and our watches were always almost exactly the same… But after the update my 630 is about 300m per 5km shorter… And I ran a measured 5km this morning and mine said 4.74.
Anyone else notice it? Or any ideas how to roll back to before the update or fix it?
Is software version 4.70 (a172515)
I suspect if you look at your activity, it will have no GPS track. There is a bug Garmin has acknowledged where there are issues with the GPS. It still gets elevation, but isn’t using GPS for distance or recording a GPS track. So it is computing distance just using the accelerometers, as if you were on a treadmill. I believe GPS firmware 5.2 was intended to fix this. You can also apparently just turn off your watch and it should start working.
You are correct. Thanks. I hadn’t noticed the track missing, but it is not there.
The version 5.2 update fixed the problem… so back to all good.
It’s kind of interesting though… When I had my old FR60 with a foot pod, my calibration was pretty much the same as it would be to correct it on my wrist. Wonder if that’s a ‘normal’ case.
The difference here is that it is using the accelerometer from the watch itself (on your wrist) which isn’t nearly as accurate as the footpod accelerometer for distance. In my case, I had my footpod on, so would have hoped it would use that for distance if it couldn’t get it from GPS. But since it was still getting some kind of GPS signal, it didn’t use the footpod and I also got the bigger error.
Actually I just noticed that 5.20 is the most current version… I’ll bump it to that and see what happens.
I’ve had my 630 for about 7 months and have two major issues with it. 1) the GPS accuracy and 2) the connectivity. On the GPS accuracy the speed seems to fluctuate a lot (when I know I’m not) and it frequently loses GPS even when I’m in a completely open space running along the beach in Melbourne. It’s bizarre. I can go several hundred metres where the watch will be saying I’m running 7min/km when I’m actually doing 5. However, when I look at the data later there are no fluctuations so it seems that the watch is measuring things correctly, it’s just the instantaneous display that isn’t working.
The connection and syncing with my iPhone6S is always problematic. I almost always have to repeatedly kill the app to get the watch to sync. Today I installed the latest update on the watch and this appeared to completely disable the Bluetooth connection. After many attempts and reboots of both devices I eventually had to delete the device completely and re-pair. Then I still had to again repeatedly restart the app to get it to sync. My combination of a 630 and iPhone6S must be very common. Do Garmin actually test their updates before they push them out? My Apple Watch connects to my phone seamlessly and instantly every time as does my car stereo and my Bluetooth speaker. Why is the Garmin so unreliable? I’ve sent this to them and am sceptical that this will get an answer but I’d love an honest admission that their connectivity is significantly worse than the Apple Watch and, more importantly, offer some hope that things will improve. This is my third Garmin device and I’ve been extremely loyal. Their watches still offer much better functionality for runners than the Apple Watch. However, if they put a GPS chip in their next version the gap will narrow considerably. Garmin Connect is now matched by Strava as a platform. I genuinely feel that Garmin is poised to become the Nokia of smart watches. Nokia let “their platform burn”. Will Garmin?
Any chance it’s just either your watch or your phone’s BLE stack that’s defective (perhaps at a hardware level)? I’d ring Garmin support.
The problems you note aren’t normal (or anywhere near common).
I note that about once every few months someone will have a similar problem and find out it’s actually the communications stack on their iPhone. The Apple Store is usually able to fix it. It’s rare, and thus I’d really start with Garmin support first. But it does (rarely) happen that it’s a phone hardware issue. It’s usually more easily seen if you also have Bluetooth headphones and that drops constantly.
Thanks, I appreciate the comment. I’m waiting on a reply from Garmin but I wear my Apple Watch every day, use my car stereo and bluetooth speaker regularly and never experience any bluetooth problems with my phone. Anecdotally, which, admittedly, can be dangerous, amongst my running friends in Australia no one has anything good to say about Garmin’s connectivity. I couldn’t see a specific comment about this in your review but do people really see the 630 instantly syncing with the app and maintaining as good connectivity as an Apple Watch does?
my 630 synchs >95% of the time effortlessly via Bluetooth with my iphone 5s, and the other <5% of the time, if i close the garmin app, then reopen it on my phone, i'm good to go.
Does anyone have the AC power charge details for the 630, i.e. voltage and amperage required for battery charging.
The Garmin manual has nothing and can find nothing online.
It charges by USB. USB is 5V DC, and has to be 0.5A. Some USB power sources can provide more current than that, but use of it is then controlled by the client device.
If you’re asking because you want to use anything else other than the standard USB, 5V and 0.5A should be safe. But given how common USB is, I can’t see any reason you’d want to.
And as for the AC details, whatever other USB power sources use in your locale will be fine – it’s all the same once it comes out of the USB.
Hi 🙂 I need to clean the strap. Just wondering if anyone knows how to remove the red sensor from the strap itself? I don’t want to use force and possibly ruin something. Couldn’t find anything regarding this anywhere.
Any chatter about a 640 etc, it is October after all.
Thank you for an amazing site
I’m a private running coach thinking of using a single 630 watch to assess running metrics of multiple runners. However, your review highlights a few areas where that may be problematic and you may suspect other areas too.
What can’t I use it for in a group-use scenario?
1) It appears VO2max and LT metrics require numerous workouts over time to generate usable results.
2) Which metrics will be contaminated by old data belonging to another runner on the watch?
3) Which metrics are dependent on account profile information, e.g., age, height, resting HR, etc?
4) Am I going to have to wipe phone clean and create a new profile for each client session?
I’ve read the 630 and 735 reviews. i understand the features of both. I’m a runner exclusively an track my HR all the time. I currently have the 610. while i can happily and easily upgrade to the 630 i only looked into the 735 for the purposes of having a HR monitor on wrist for ease (the strap sometimes slides off my torso). initially i was concerned the BPM would be off on the 735 and i understand it might only be 1 or 2 BPM which is a small workable margian. But i am thinking the 735 is overkill because its a tri watch.
so i’m stuck. do i stick with a runners watch and keep the strap. or do i use a tri watch (as a runner) to benefit from the wrist BPM (assuming it really will be accurate??) feedback appreciated.
just ran the chicago marathon with my old 610 and it died at mile 26.1. with NYC coming up i have to make a decision quickly.
Unless you really want the touch screen (which many people hate), there doesn’t appear any reason you’d take the 630 over the 735. More or less the same size/weight and I believe the the 735 has everything the 630 has PLUS the triathlon features, plus the optical HR plus still more supported by Garmin. You can still use your old HR strap with the 735 (assuming it’s Ant+) if you want more accuracy. You could save $50 with the 630 if you don’t need to buy a new strap, if that makes a difference to you. If you aren’t a triathlete, just ignore those features.
if it’s just for running and you like the optical HR sensor: Have a look at the FR235.
Compared to the FR630 it’s missing:
– WIFI (you can still sync the activity via Bluetooth and the Garmin Connect App or via USB on your PC)
– Touchscreen (which many people hate – like ekutter states)
– Running dynamics (which is useless to most people – including mean)
However it has an optical heart rate sensor and is a less cheaper than the FR630 or FR735.
Now that the 630 is selling for $300 on Amazon and Clever Training how does it stack up to the FR 230 at $250?
Are the extra metrics worth an additional $50?
With only a $50 difference, it’d really just depend on how much you value those metrics.
For me personally…nah.
The running dynamics are interesting for a week or so 😉
However for me personally I would love to have the WIFI of the 630 for just $50 more.
Coming home for a run, hit save and voila – there it magically appears at Garmin Connect (and Strava if you like)
Midnight Blue is $280 on amazon now. Bikecloset.com has it on sale for $230! I’ve never heard of that site though… anyone ever bought anything from there before?
so a silly question about the extra metrics, do you get the extra metrics ( i.e. recovery advisor, and lactate info) on the Garmin Connect app? or is that strictly dependent on the device? i ask because i am wavering between FR230 and the FR630. I’d love to have a F3 but thats way out of my budget atm. So im looking for a solid device to track my runs and Mountain Biking and a little of street ridding.
One day the clock portion (digital) of my Garmin Forerunner 630 is one color and then it changes to another color . . . does this have any significance what so ever?
The color reflects the color of your last activity (running, cycling..)
You can disable this, so it will be always black or white.