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Garmin Forerunner 735XT In-Depth Review

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It’s been almost exactly a month since Garmin announced their latest triathlon watch, the Forerunner 735XT.  This watch aims to take the software of the larger FR920XT triathlon watch and compress it down into a smaller package.  All while also adding in optical heart rate sensor and other new software features.

I’ve now been using the unit for about a month in my day to day training and racing.  Not only has it done typical swim/bike/run workouts, but I’ve also used it in two different triathlon races.  Thus, I’m pretty familiar with what works well and which parts are still a bit wonky.

Note that I have two units.  One that Garmin sent out to trial, and another that I picked up as a normal consumer.  I’ve mostly been using the one I picked up myself, while I’ve also done a number of head to head tests to see if there are any differences (such as in battery life and other accuracy areas).  As is usually the case, once I’m done with the unit here shortly I’ll ship the loaner back to Garmin.  You can support the blog using the links at the end of the review.

The Quick Review Version:

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As I do every once in a rare while, I’m going to offer a bit of an executive summary of my review here.  Obviously, I can’t fit everything into this section.  But I’ll cover the key things in the shortest possible section.  First, let’s briefly cover in bulleted form what’s different or unique about the FR735XT compared to other Garmin multisport units.

– Adds in Varia Vision support (first Garmin wearable to support the heads-up display)
– Adds in Garmin Varia Radar & Varia lights support
– Adds in Shimano Di2 electronic gear shifting
– Adds in support for structured swimming workouts (via Garmin Connect)
– Adds in Lactate Threshold metrics while running (on Fenix3, but not FR920XT)
– Adds in FTP determination while cycling (on Edge series, but not FR920XT)
– Adds ‘Intensity Minutes’ metrics (seen on other Garmin activity trackers)
– Adds Strava Suffer Score (new on FR735XT)
– Adds phone-based audio prompts (introduced on FR230/235/630)
– Adds stress score (introduced on FR630, now on Fenix3, but not FR920XT)
– FR735XT officially 14hr GPS battery life, less than that of FR920XT/Fenix3
– Lacks a barometric altimeter that’s on FR920XT & Fenix3 (but still has GPS altitude)
– Lacks a quick release kit like the FR920XT and the Fenix3

Phew – that’s the short version of what’s different at a feature-set level.  But then we’ve got elements like size.  The FR735XT is smaller than the Fenix3 or FR920XT, and is more in line with the size and weight of Garmin’s running-only watches.  That’s good news for those wanting a smaller triathlon watch, but bad news if you plan to mount it on your bike.  There’s no quick release kit that many triathletes use with other triathlon watches.

You’ll note above that it doesn’t have a barometric altimeter, instead using a GPS based altimeter.  This decision cascades into a bunch of downsides for the unit (which still costs $450USD).  For starters, it won’t count stairs within activity tracking mode – a feature that most $100-$150 activity trackers do just fine.  Next, it seems to royally suck when it comes to the GPS elevation charts I get.  True, virtually all online platforms will re-write the elevation data anyway, but if you care about that mid-activity, then this is definitely a consideration point.  Finally, it lacks the ski/snowboard mode that other Garmin devices at the same price point have – because again, it requires the barometric altimeter.

Ignoring my GPS based elevation quibbles though – the unit does otherwise work quite well.  Garmin continues to improve their optical heart rate sensor (called ‘Garmin Elevate’), which they introduced last fall.  While all past products have seen improvements via firmware as well, it’s good to see these tweaks are making a difference – at least in terms of running.  For running, things do quite well for me the vast majority of the time.  However while cycling it’s still kinda rough in terms of accuracy, especially outdoors (indoors tends to be fine).  I found that when cycling on smoother roads at steadier intensities it’s good, but stop and go and rougher roads still is tricky.  Other optical sensors from other companies still do better in this area (by a wide margin).

The rest of the watch as a day to day unit works exactly as you expect for a smart watch.  Alerts show up instantly, and daily activity tracking also works well.  I’ve got no complaints in those areas.  Battery life during GPS activities is an area some are concerned with, given the reduced 14hr battery.  However, in my testing I found some ways to get around that for those pushing the limits of the battery capacity for a full iron-distance race.  But of course, it still won’t be for everyone.

Overall, I think that if you’re looking at shorter distance triathlons (Sprint/Olympic/Half-Iron), the FR735XT is the most capable unit in the smallest package available today.  If you’re looking for something for iron-distance racing, then you’ll want to consider your projected finishing times.

Unboxing:

Garmin-FR735XT-Box

There are a handful of versions of the FR735XT box.  It simply depends on whether you’re buying just the watch, or one of the bundles with other accessories in them.  For example, you can get a kit which has the HRM-TRI & HRM-SWIM heart rate straps (for recording HR underwater).  But for today’s purposes, I’m keeping it nice and simple – just the FR735XT itself.

Garmin-FR735XT-Box-Pieces

If we take apart the unit, we’ll find precisely three things inside: Papers, the USB charging/sync clip, and the FR735XT. That’s all.

Garmin-FR735XT-BoxContents

The papers you can throw away. You won’t need them after this review.  Plus it basically just says if you do something extraordinarily stupid and break the product, then it’s your fault.  If you break yourself, it’s also your fault.

Garmin-FR735XT-Manuals

The charging clip is the exact same charging clip as found on the FR230, FR235, and FR630. Yay to managing to use the same charging clip for more than 8 months!  Fear not, new babies are born in 9 months, so just give a bit more time and there will be a new clip soon enough I’m sure.

Garmin-FR735XT-ChargingClip

The clip is used for both charging as well as sync of workouts/data.  But of course you can also sync the watch via Bluetooth Smart.  Note that the FR735XT does not have WiFi in it like the Fenix3 or FR920XT.

And finally, the unit itself.  Here’s a shot of the backside with the optical HR sensor:

Garmin-FR735XT-BackOfUnit

And now the full frontal, albeit with a sticker on the front.  So it’s kinda censored I suppose.

Garmin-FR735XT-FrontSticker

And then the side profile:

Garmin-FR735XT-SideProfile

Ok, sticker removed – cover the children’s eyes!

Garmin-FR735XT-Uncensored-Full-Frontal

Of course, there are a few different colored FR735XT units, as I showed in my preview post.  For example, this aqua/teal one that The Girl really likes:

Garmin-735XT-BlueAquaTeal

Rumor is she wants one because it’s pretty.

Size & Weight Comparison:

So how does the FR735XT size up?  Well, it’s nearly identical to that of the FR235 (a running watch).  It’s also considerably smaller than the Fenix3 or FR920XT.  First, here’s a look a the depth comparisons between the three triathlon watches:

Garmin-FR735XT-FR920XT-Fenix3

Interesting, I discovered that the FR735XT is virtually identical to that of an Oreo both in depth as well as diameter.

Garmin-FR735XT-Size-Oreo-Side

Garmin-FR735XT-Size-Oreo-Depth

Seriously, it’s mind-bogglingly impressive:

Garmin-FR735XT-Size-OreoOnTop

So if you can’t decide how big the watch might look on your wrist, here’s a simple DIY solution:

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Here’s how a handful of triathlon watches in the market-place size up today.  From left to right:

Garmin FR920XT, Suunto Ambit3 Peak, Polar V800, Garmin Fenix3, Garmin FR735XT, Oreos (three-stack)

Garmin-FR735XT-PolarV800-SuuntoAmbit3-920XT-Fenix3-Frontal

Garmin-FR735XT-PolarV800-SuuntoAmbit3-920XT-Fenix3-Sideshot

As for weights, the FR735XT is pretty darn light.  It’s made of plastic, which saves weight compared to glass and metals.  I know that seems to scare off some folks, but realistically I’ve *yet* to hear of a single person breaking their FR920XT during anything remotely related to regular use (or heck, even abuse). It’s also plastic, just like the FR235 and FR920XT.  Said differently, unless you drive over it with a bus (with studded tires), you’ll probably be fine.

The FR735XT comes in at 41g.

Weights-FR735XT

And here are some of its friends (click to expand photo):

Weights-FR630 Weights-FR920XT Weights-Fenix3

Weights-Suunto-Ambit3Peak Weights-PolarV800 Weights-Oreo

Now that we’ve sized things up, let’s get right into using it.

Triathlon Mode:

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I’m gonna mix it up for this review and start with the triathlon mode rather than my reviews starting with running, cycling, and swimming modes individually.  I know, I’m living life on the edge!

What sets apart a ‘multisport watch’ from a watch that can simply do multiple sports is the ‘multisport mode’.  Specifically, the ability to do multiple sport types (i.e. swim/bike/run) on a single activity.  Just as you’d do in an actual triathlon (or duathlon, etc…).  There are many watches that can track your runs or rides, but not very many that can track an entire race day.

Like other Garmin multisport watches, the FR735XT includes multisport mode.  And I found no better way to test that functionality than in two different triathlons over the past few weeks.  First the Versailles Triathlon, and then the Paris Triathlon.

To start with a multisport mode session you’ll go into the sport menu and select triathlon.  You can also create customized multisport modes too.  For example, you could swim/bike/stand-up paddleboard/run.  You can also select whether or not to include transitions as separate recorded activities (I’d recommend you do).

Garmin-FR735XT-TriathlonMode-Transitions

Once that’s done, it’ll bring you to your first activity.  For each activity you do, it’ll show you a sport icon.  The way it works in the default triathlon mode is that you iterate through each sport by pressing the lap button.  But there’s also a second multisport mode I’ll talk about in a second.

Garmin-FR735XT-Triathlon-Mode-T1

When you press that lap button it’ll change to the next sport, or to transitions if you’ve configured it as such.  This means you can’t use the lap button to record manual laps.  But you can still setup auto-lap to record laps automatically (such as every mile or kilometer).

Garmin-FR735XT-Triathlon-Mode-T1-Screen

One of the caveats to using the lap button to change sports is that it’s easy to get it pressed, especially in the water or taking off a wetsuit.  And once you go forward, you can’t go back to the previous sport.  So I’d recommend locking your lap button when you start the swim, and upon exiting the water.  Just hold the upper left button down and select lock.  If you practice it more than once you can do it within 2-3 seconds from memory.

Now I mentioned another multisport option.  In this case you can start any activity (not multisport) and do that activity as you normally would.  For example, start a run session.  Then, simply hold down the lower left button to transition to change sports to any of your pre-defined sports.

Garmin-FR735XT-Multisport-Forever-Mode

You can seemingly do this indefinitely (I’ve tried about 12 or so different changes), though it won’t record transition times unless you create a separate fake transition activity (which is all the watch does anyway).  The benefit here though is that you can actually record manual laps this way.  Also, if the lap button gets pressed, then it doesn’t iterate to the next sport.

Next it’s important to note that the FR735XT’s optical HR sensor is disabled while in the water.  I’ll talk about that more in the swimming sections.  But for triathlon, you can use the HRM-TRI heart rate strap to gather HR data underwater for analysis afterwards. The strap will automatically sync up and download the data at the end of the race.

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Once your multisport activity is over, you can view it on Garmin Connect.  It’ll show up as a multisport activity that you can view in separate chunks. Here’s my Versailles Triathlon Garmin Connect files (Versailles Triathlon Race report here), and my Paris Triathlon race files (Paris Triathlon Race Report here).

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Overall this worked perfectly fine for both of my races.  However one downside to the FR735XT is that there is no quick release kit for it.  So for triathletes that means you’re wearing it on your wrist the entire time, which may not be ideal on the bike segment in terms of seeing your data stats.  Especially on triathlon bikes where the aerobars put the watch facing even more outwards.

You can of course take off the watch and place it on a rubber bike mount, but then you lose the benefits of the optical HR sensor.  Alternatively, you could enable ANT+ HR broadcasting of your heart rate to a dedicated bike computer already mounted to your bike in a more visible location.  Oh…wait…you can’t.  See, when in multisport mode you can’t enable ANT+ broadcasting.  That option is only available when not recording an activity on the FR735XT.  Yeah, it’s kinda stupid. [Update – Aug 14th, 2016: Now you can with the new firmware update released this weekend. Woot!]

So in a nutshell, if you want a simple and straightforward watch for recording triathlons – the FR735XT works well.  But when you want to do something slightly more complex (i.e. using a quick release kit or putting the unit in a visible location on the bike), then things fall apart pretty quickly.

Running:

Garmin-FR735XT-RunningMode

Now that we’ve got our threesome out of the way, let’s get back to solo sports, starting with running.  Given the FR735XT is nearly identical in external looks to that of the running-focused FR235, it stands to reason that as a running watch it handles pretty well from a form factor standpoint.  However, unlike the FR235 this has a boatload more running features.  For example the FR235 is a mid-range watch, whereas the FR735XT has many of the higher-end running features.  Functions like a metronome for example, as well as Running Dynamics.

To get started we’ll head outdoors and pick our sport.  Here we’ll select running.

Garmin-FR735XT-Running-Start

At this point you can either start the running session (or have it find satellites and HR), or you can dive into settings.  We’ll do settings first.  The FR735XT allows you to configure four data pages, each with up to four pieces of information on them.  Plus, you’ve got dedicated (optional) pages for: HR Zone Gauge, Map (breadcrumb), Virtual Partner, Running Dynamics Page 1, Running Dynamics Page 2, and the Clock.

Garmin-FR735XT-Running-Data-Fields

You can choose from a boatload of data fields, anywhere from 1 to 4 fields per custom page.  Here’s what each of those look like:

Garmin-FR735XT-Data-Fields-1Field Garmin-FR735XT-Data-Fields-2FieldsGarmin-FR735XT-Data-Fields-3-Fields Garmin-FR735XT-Data-Fields-4Fields

Note that in the case of the elevation data fields, those are going to be based on GPS elevation.  And in my experience with the FR735XT, said GPS elevation in this unit seems to suck. A lot.  Still, it’s there if you like to suck.  Err…I mean…if you like data that sucks. Anyway…moving along.

You’ve got all the usual options here for alerts, auto pause, auto scroll, lap settings, and even GPS type (GLONASS enabled or not).  For example, in Auto Lap you can configure an automatic lap to occur at a preset distance interval (i.e. every 1-mile or 1-kilometer).  Additionally, you can customize the lap banner.  That way when you hit the lap button it tells you any data you’d like.  In my case I set it up to show me my last lap time and last lap pace.

There’s also the metronome, which will buzz and beep at various cadence ranges that you configure.  This is based on footsteps per minute (both feet inclusive):

Garmin-FR735XT-Running-Metronome

In the event you want to download a structured workout, you’d actually do that through the more generic ‘Training’ menu, which has a bunch of structured options:

– Downloaded workouts (from Garmin Connect)
– Interval mode (on the fly setting up of a workout)
– Set a Target (allows you to setup distance/time/pace based targets)
– Race an activity (allows you to race past activities, or downloaded activities)

When it comes to navigation, things are pretty basic here.  You’ve got the ability to see where you are at the moment, and save that location.

Garmin-FR735XT-NavigationWhereAmI Garmin-FR735XT-Navigation-SaveLocation

That’s useful if you want to get back to where you are later on (when you’re lost).  You can also enable ‘Back to Start’ or downloaded ‘Courses’.  All of which simply give you a basic arrow on where you’re going.  Courses don’t download streets and detailed turn by turn directions, but rather it’s more directional arrow style:

Garmin-FR735XT-Navigation-SavedLocations Garmin-FR735XT-Navigation-Arrow

The same is true of both Back to Start as well as navigating to a Saved Waypoint.  Speaking of which, you can do that (Back to Start) at any time by holding the upper left button to navigate somewhere (during an activity).

Enough about settings, let’s actually run.  Now we’re waiting on satellites.  It only takes a few seconds in most cases, since the satellites are pre-cached on your unit each time you sync with the interwebs.  What you’re far more likely to wait on with the FR735XT is the optical HR sensor.  You’ll notice at the top a small HR icon:

Garmin-FR735XT-OpticalHR-Waiting Garmin-FR735XT-OpticalHR-Found

This icon needs to stay lit, no blinking – even if it’s showing a HR down below.  I find this can take a bit more time than past watches – sometimes 30-45 seconds.  So definitely be aware of that.  If it’s still blinking, then it’s still time for you to wait.

Once it’s solid though, off you go!  The watch will display your current pace and distance as you accumulate it.  Additionally, you can either manually press the lap button or use the autolap that we talked about earlier.

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Many have asked about instant pace.  So, I put together a simple video demonstrating it.  It was interesting though, I found that they must be doing some blended accelerometer/GPS based filtering, as if I held my arm out too long for the video, it’d impact the pace.  Either way, the pace was very quick to respond.  And more importantly, stayed reasonably stable.

You can change your data screens by pressing the up/down buttons.  Or, you can use auto scroll.  I’m more of a manual button presser though.

If you had paired the HRM-TRI or HRM-RUN with the unit, it’ll by default use that for your HR (instead of the optical HR).  Also, you’d get Running Dynamics information shown (and recorded).  Otherwise, with the optical HR sensor you won’t get that additional Running Dynamics data (but you do get cadence).  That’s because the additional information is coming from the accelerometer in the HR strap, not the wrist.

Note that you will not get the Lactate Threshold stats without a chest strap (due to dependency on heart rate variability data – HRV/RR).  You will though get race predictor information, which is simply based on VO2Max.  In this case, I think it’s got my VO2Max within about 1 unit (high), which bumps up my potential race predictor times slightly.

Garmin-FR735XT-Running-Predictor

Once you’ve completed your run you’ll get any personal records displayed, as well as recovery time status and even your VO2Max (even from the optical HR sensor).

Garmin-FR735XT-Running-VO2Max

You can also dig through the laps/splits and run totals as well on the watch.  Within a minute or two, if your phone is nearby, it’ll have sync’ed the run to Garmin Connect via the Garmin Connect Mobile app.  If you’ve configured 3rd party apps like Strava, MapMyFitness, Sport Tracks, Training Peaks, or others – it’ll have automatically pushed it there as well (that only takes a few seconds at most).

Overall as a running watch I’ve had no issues with it.  It works pretty much identically to what you’d expect if you merged the firmware of a FR920XT into the body of a FR235.

Cycling:

Garmin-FR735XT-Cycling

When it comes to riding, the FR735XT is just as capable as the FR920XT or Fenix3.  Actually, it’s even more capable as it now connects to more sensors and devices.

With the FR735XT you’ll need to decide where to place it while riding.  Given it doesn’t have a quick release kit, it’ll either be on your wrist or sitting on one of those rubber bike mounts for $11.  For all of my riding I left it on my wrist, though that reduced visibility since most people can’t see their wrists constantly while riding (even in a triathlon bike).  But, in keeping it on my wrist I was able to record the optical HR data. If you mount it on your bike and still want HR data, you’ll need to use an ANT+ HR strap.

Speaking of accessories, when it comes to riding, the unit supports the following cycling-friendly accessories:

– ANT+ Power Meters
– ANT+ Heart Rate Straps
– ANT+ Speed/Cadence sensors, Speed-only sensors, and Cadence-only sensors
– ANT+ Bike lights (i.e. Varia lights)
– ANT+ Remote displays (i.e. Varia Vision Heads Up Display)
– Garmin Varia Radar
– Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting
– Garmin VIRB/VIRB X/XE action cameras
– Garmin Tempe temperature sensors

Plus while running you can also connect the ANT+ footpod.  Note that it does NOT connect to any Bluetooth Smart sensors.  Though, the vast majority of cycling sensors these days are dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, so it’s not too much of an issue for most people.

While riding you can configure screens and pages just the same as running.  So in many ways the functionality is pretty similar.  It’s just that now you get speed instead of pace.  Plus you’ll get data like power meter data, or in the case of below – Garmin Varia Radar integration.

If you connect the Varia Radar, it’ll show and chirp/buzz when a car is approaching from behind.  Each dot on the side represents a single car.  The sidebar will turn various colors depending on whether the coast is clear, or if a car is approaching at an abnormally high velocity.

Garmin-FR735XT-WithVariaRadar

Garmin-FR735XT-WithVariaRadar-Green

You can also connect to Garmin Varia Vision, which is their heads up display.  In that case I’ll display the data from the FR735XT onto the Varia Vision display.  Think of it like a second screen, sorta like if you mirror your iPhone onto an Apple TV.  It’s basically a projector.

Garmin-FR735XT-Varia-Vision-Pairing

I found that this combination worked fairly well on the bike, as you could get the data right above your eye since your wrist is out of view.  Unlike some heads up display units I’ve tried, this doesn’t block your peripheral vision since it sits above your eye.  Other companies have products that wrap around from the side, which blocks things quite a bit.

Garmin-FR735XT-Varia-Vision-Cycling

I’d point out that using Varia Vision while riding is approximately one million times better than while running with Varia Vision and the FR735XT.  That combination just about made me seasick. Plus, it kinda made my nose sore and left a mark.  Note that when combined with the Varia Radar, you get the cars also shown on the heads up display.

Next, to briefly talk about HR re-broadcasting with the FR735XT.  The unit contains the ability to take your optical HR sensor data and re-broadcast it over ANT+ to allow other devices (like a Garmin Edge) to record your HR.  To enable this you’ll go to the HR widget (up/down arrows), and then hold down the up arrow button, which shows you the HR broadcasting screen.

Garmin-FR735XT-HR-Rebroadcasting-Enable Garmin-FR735XT-HR-Rebroadcasting-MainPage

At which point you’ll select ‘Broadcast Heart Rate’ and it’ll start broadcasting over ANT+:

Garmin-FR735XT-HR-Rebroadcasting-Start Garmin-FR735XT-HR-Rebroadcasting-Enabled

You can then see it on other devices, like an Edge series unit, or perhaps on a trainer app like TrainerRoad:

Garmin-FR735XT-HR-Rebroadcasting-Edge520

The one challenge here though is that you can’t enable the broadcasting mode while in an activity (like you used to be able to on other Garmin devices).  This kinda sucks, because it means you can’t record that activity too.  Why would you want to do this?  Well trainer apps like TrainerRoad and Zwift are perfect examples.  In those cases you want your HR data shown/displayed on the big screen, but you might also want it recorded on your Garmin device as part of a bike workout that’s uploaded to Garmin Connect.  You can’t do that now.  And that’s stupid. [Update – Aug 14th, 2016: Now you can with the new firmware update released this weekend. Woot!]

Lastly, when in cycling mode you’ve got automatic FTP (Functional Threshold Power) detection when used with a power meter.  You can also do a manual test if you’d like.

Garmin-FR735XT-FTP-FunctionalThresholdPower

I’ve found that the numbers using the automatic test are a fair bit off of what Xert has me at, which is 302w (about right), and that’s in the same ballpark as WKO4 has had me in as well.  Though I suppose there’s likely a bit more logic built into the online platforms than what is in the watch today.  And, if it’s like other algorithms, it may take a longer time period for it to stabilize on a number.  Also, it depends quite a bit on your type of workouts.

Overall within cycling the unit mostly works fine, minus the reality of using a watch in a competitive bike event.  For me, I just prefer something on my handlebars to glance down at.  Note that I’ll cover accuracy of the optical HR while riding in my section dedicated to that.

Swimming:

Garmin-FR735XT-OpenwaterSwimming

When it comes to aquatic adventures, the FR735XT specialized in swimming two different ways: In the pool, and in openwater. Oh, it can also do rowing and other Boaty McBoatface adventures, but more on that later.

The FR735XT divides up swimming into the two aforementioned categories. One uses the GPS for distance (openwater), while the other just uses an accelerometer (pools).  When openwater swimming it’ll also use the accelerometer for stroke recognition too.

Starting with pools, you’ll need to set your pool length. The minimum is 17m/18y, and the maximum is 150m/y.  If you’re in Chile with that crazy long kilometer pool, you’ll need to use the openwater swim mode.  And if you have an infinity pool, you’ll need to go to a real pool. Infinity pools won’t work here.

Garmin-FR735XT-Pool-Settings

Once that’s done, you’re ready to jump in the pool.  The watch will remember your setting, so the next time you select the pool mode it’ll automatically use the pool distance.  The reason it needs a pool distance is because it’s effectively just detecting your flip/open turns each length and then doing simple math to give you distance/pace/etc…

All of this information is displayed on your watch in real-time using the data fields you’ve configured:

Garmin-FR735XT-Swimming-Pool-Mode

With the FR735XT, Garmin also introduced the ability to create structured swim workouts.  You’d create your workout structure online with Garmin Connect and then sync your watch to download it.  It allows you to forgo having printed paper copies of the workout poolside.

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Once in the water you can select that workout and it’ll iterate through the steps, just as it would for running or cycling.  This capability was also rolled out to other Garmin tri watches like the FR920XT & Fenix3/Fenix3HR.  You’ve also got the drill log, which is useful anytime you’re doing drills that don’t involve moving your arms (i.e. kickboard).  This then enables you to manually enter a total distance for that drill set.

Garmin-FR735XT-DRill-Mode

Overall, through multiple swims I haven’t seen any issues with swim recognition of distance.  Perhaps once per 2-3 swims I’ll get a false lap, but it often figures it out on the next lap.  And in 99.99% of the cases, said failure to properly count a single length is usually caused by one of the other 18 people in my single lap lane stopping for no logical reason on earth.

Note that pool swimming applies whether you’re indoors or outdoors. If it’s a pool under the maximum length, you’ll use the pool mode.

Next up, openwater swimming.  This is simply for any body of water like a lake, pond, ocean, stream, or that giant Chilean pool.

DCIM\100GOPRO\GOPR1333.

With this mode it’s going to use GPS to determine distance and pace.  The accelerometer meanwhile will track stroke rate and such in the water.

The trick with openwater swim mode is that it has an algorithm to deal with the continual loss of GPS satellite visibility each time your wrist goes under the water (every second).  Not all watches have this, and is a key difference between a triathlon/openwater capable watch and just a watch that might be used for running.

When it comes to accuracy in openwater swimming, I found the plots were actually pretty darn good.  I overlaid them a few different times with other GPS devices (including a reference device on a swim buoy that was attached to me).  Because of the algorithms, it’s never going to be exactly perfect, but it should get you within 5-10%, and in my case that was certainly true.

For example, in a local triathlon, the course is a straight point to point in a rowing basin.  Thus it’s actually one of the easiest to measure (many openwater swim courses are inaccurate).  The FR735XT came in at 1,463m – while the course was officially 1,500m.  The Suunto Ambit3 Peak on the other wrist was at 1,630m.

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There’s more of these map examples later in my GPS accuracy section.

Finally, note that when in swimming mode the FR735XT will disable the use of the optical HR sensor for capturing workout HR data (it does though capture occasional data points for 24×7 HR data).  The reason is that Garmin hasn’t seen enough accuracy yet with the optical HR sensor underwater to enable it.  Instead, if you want HR data while underwater you’ll need to use the HRM-TRI or HRM-SWIM straps.  I’ve got an entire review on those straps and how they work here, so go swing over to that page for glorious details (and pretty beach pics).

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I did use the HRM-TRI on a number of openwater swim occasions with the FR735XT without any issue at all.  You can see it in the links above/below.  Also, it’s what I used in my triathlon races.

Other Sports & Battery Life:

Garmin-FR735XT-OtherSports

I wanted to briefly cover the other sport modes available on the FR735XT, and then dive into battery life a bit.  This category is basically two things I didn’t know where else to stick – so they got lumped together.

I’ve no doubt covered swim/bike/run fairly well, but the unit is capable of other sports as well.  Plus, you can download apps from Connect IQ, which extends it further if there’s something specific you’re looking for.  The sport-modes included in-box are:

– Run
– Run Indoors
– Bike
– Bike Indoors
– Pool Swim
– Openwater Swim
– Triathlon
– Multisport (customizable)
– Stand-up Paddleboarding
– Rowing
– Hiking
– XC Skiing
– Strength
– Cardio
– Other

Note that in the event you don’t have a sport mode on the watch, you can always change the sport type once online on Garmin Connect (i.e. in-line skating).  Also, you can make variations of existing sport modes and tweak them a bit.

Also some folks have asked why the FR735XT lacks the ski/snowboard mode found on other watches in the same price range. That’s because it lacks the barometric altimeter that’s used to automatically recognize when you’re skiing versus when you’re on a chairlift.  The mode works exceptionally well on other units, but won’t work here since it does not have the right hardware.

So what about battery life?

Well that’s the semi-controversial point on the FR735XT.  Officially it’s spec’d at 14 hours, which is too short for middle and back of the pack triathletes trying to complete an Ironman.  For front of the pack folks, it won’t be an issue.  The battery spec in that case was assuming GPS was enabled and that optical HR is also enabled.  Those being the two components that drain the battery the most (well, aside from enabling the backlight).

So if you’re a triathlete that might be above the threshold, could you bridge the gap with a HR strap (or just by disabling the optical HR sensor)?  I set out to find out.  The best way I know how is to plop the unit on my rooftop and let it record till it dies.  So I did that:

DCIM\100GOPRO\GOPR1306.

And it came back with a whopping 19 hours (or, 16 seconds short of 19 hours).  Well above spec, so pretty darn good!

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But wait, was it?

See, in this case it was using smart recording (which has no impact on battery either way), but more than that – it didn’t have anything else sensor-wise to force it to update and poll more frequently.  So there were very few data points. So I decided to fix that issue.

I went about and connected up the ANT+ simulator to it, which would simulate ANT+ sensor data as if you were really riding/running/etc… In this case, I simulated cycling, since it has the most sensor types.  I connected an ANT+ power meter (with power/speed/cadence), as well as an ANT+ heart rate strap.

2016-05-15 20.14.58

Then I put it back on the roof again. This time it lasted 15 hours – with Garmin Connect showing 15:01:01.

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Pretty darn good!

Now I don’t have a good way to determine exactly how long I could go with GPS on and optical HR enabled.  The reason (aside from not planning any races that take me more than 14 hours), is that if I were to just wear it around the house with GPS on it wouldn’t be a good test.  The GPS will increase power draw substantially in tougher conditions (i.e. under a roof), so that’d contort the results.

Either way – I think the results give you a range to look at, and some options to work within if you really want to use this watch over the Fenix3 or FR920XT (which have longer battery life).  Alternatively, if you’re walking the marathon on an Ironman, you could use UltraTrac for just the run portion, which would easily take care of battery concerns.  It samples for a portion of every minute, but not the entire time.  While running the data isn’t good enough, but if you’re finishing closer to 17 hours on an Ironman, than that realistically means you’re walking the marathon.  In which case it’ll connect the dots just fine and you are unlikely to lose much data/distance at all.

Daily Activity & Sleep Tracking:

Garmin-FR735XT-DailySteps

Like all recent Garmin wearables, the FR735XT tracks steps, sleep and general laziness levels.  Yet oddly unlike Garmin wearables that are $100 (the Vivofit3), the FR735XT doesn’t have Move IQ, which automatically recognizes and tracks sport activities such as a bike commute or a walk about town.  So it’s kinda backwards that way.

Still, for regular steps it tracks that just fine.  You can see those at any time by pressing the up/down buttons on the side of the watch to get to the step screen.  It’s here you’ll be shown your current steps for the day as well as progress towards the dynamically changing step goal.

Garmin-FR735XT-Step-Totals

You’ll also see your distance total for the day as well as calories burned.  If you were back on the time screen, you may see a red bar.  That’s the inactivity bar and reminds you to move when you get lazy.  You’ll need to move about 100-150m per hour (walking) in order to clear the bar.  Oddly, Garmin still doesn’t allow you to count swimming or cycling towards the inactivity bar.

Garmin-FR735XT-InactivityBar

If you press enter on the main steps page you’ll get a brief overview of your steps for the past 7 days:

Garmin-FR735XT-StepDailyTotals

Note that because the FR735XT lacks a barometric altimeter, it means it won’t track stairs.  Which is another example where cheaper Garmin units have more capabilities than more expensive units.

If we move away from steps, but still on the daily activity front is the 24×7 HR monitoring.  In this case Garmin uses their Elevate optical HR sensor to continually measure your HR and record it.  And by ‘continually’, I mean, when it remembers to.  In general if you’re active and moving around it’ll do so every few minutes.  But if you’re sitting around still at your desk or on a couch, then it could go a very long time (30+ minutes to hours) between readings.  A serious difference between competitors like Fitbit that measure every second.

You can quickly glance at your 24×7 HR by tapping the up/down button and looking at the HR screen:

Garmin-FR735XT-Continual-HR

Note, I’ve written an entire post on 24×7 HR and how to use it, check that out here.

You can then hit the enter button to look at your 7 day resting HR values.  Of course, this is still incorrect – as it was a few weeks ago when I wrote about it within my Vivoactive HR review.  You might remember how I pointed out that I could be sitting with a HR showing below the RHR value, which should be an impossibility.  Also, I’d see cases where the ‘low’ value was below the ‘RHR’, which again, shouldn’t be the case.

Garmin-FR735XT-7-Day-RHR

Garmin agrees there’s some wonkiness there, but notes that the RHR value is showing the minimum for a 1-minute average.  That’s logical…until you remember that the vast majority of the time the sensor is off – so it rarely stays on for a minute anyway if I’m not active.

2016-06-10 16.22.44 2016-06-10 16.23.20

2016-06-10 16.23.30

Finally, sleep.  No, not for me, but rather that the unit tracks it automatically.  You need not press any button to start sleep tracking, as it’ll determine it and log it accordingly.  The only thing you’ll do is set a very broad range on the app as to when you typically fall asleep, but it my experience it makes no difference in terms of actual sleep tracking.  I’ve fallen asleep before/after those hours without issue.

The sleep information is available on the Garmin Connect mobile app, as well as the Garmin Connect website.  You’ll see the time you fell asleep, as well as different sleep states (deep/light/awake).  Plus the total time you were asleep.

2016-06-10 16.24.33 2016-06-10 16.25.03

When it comes to the accuracy of this, about the only thing I can really judge is whether or not the times I fell asleep are correct.  And indeed it seems to nail that all the time – no issues there.

As for the sleep states, I’ve compared it in past recent reviews and found they vaguely correlate with the Withings Aura and EmFit sleep systems, which have additional sleep sensors to determine sleep states.  By vaguely I mean there’s correlation about 50-75% of the time.  So for now, I’d just focus on the total time asleep, which it seems to do quite well.

Optical HR Sensor Accuracy:

Garmin-FR735XT-OpticalHR-Accuracy

The FR735XT includes Garmin’s Elevate optical HR sensor built into the bottom of it, which I used both in workouts as well as in 24×7 continual HR monitoring mode.  Garmin introduced this sensor this past fall, after previously using optical HR sensors from Mio.  While initially it was a bit rough in other products, subsequent firmware updates have significantly improved accuracy.  These updates have largely been applied to existing Garmin products using the sensor (i.e. Vivosmart HR, Fenix3 HR, FR235, Vivoactive HR, etc…).

With each subsequent new unit released I re-visit sensor accuracy.  While it’s the same physical hardware, one can see the impact that firmware updates make.  Additionally, each watch has a slightly different form factor (exterior design), which can impact accuracy in terms of external light getting into the sensor area (which degrades accuracy of optical HR sensors).

Before we move on to the test results, note that optical HR sensor accuracy is rather varied from individual to individual.  Aspects such as skin color, hair density, and position can impact accuracy.  Position and how the band is worn are *the most important* pieces.  A unit with an optical HR sensor should be snug.  It doesn’t need to leave marks, but you shouldn’t be able to slide a finger under the band (at least during workouts).  You can wear it a tiny bit looser the rest of the day.

Ok, so in my testing I simply use the watch throughout my normal workouts.  Those workouts include a wide variety of intensities and conditions, making them great for accuracy testing.  I’ve got long/steady runs, hard interval workouts on both bike and running, as well as tempo runs.  Night and day runs, rain and sun runs.

For each test I’m wearing additional devices, usually 3-4, which capture data from other sensors.  Typically I’d wear a chest strap (usually the HRM-TRI), as well as another optical HR sensor made by Scosche and the Mio Fuse optical wrist sensor.  I generally consider that Mio and Scosche sensors to be the most accurate optical HR sensors for fitness/workouts today.  Note that the numbers you see in the upper right corner are *not* the averages, but rather just the exact point my mouse is sitting over.

Let’s start right out with an interval run from a couple days ago (June 8th).  In this case I started with a 10-minute warm-up, and then I slowly increased intensity for 5 minutes. After which I did a simple 4x800m workout, plus some 4×30” sprints at the end.  Note I’m mentioning the exact date of each file so you can dig into them in the charts later on.

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You see here that there was some minor disagreement at the start between the three units, something I often see.  The FR735XT had a brief diversion, while the Mio Fuse has a slightly longer diversion at the start.  However, after that time period, the three tracked quite well until a bit later.  You’ll notice on the 3rd and 4th interval the FR735XT seemed to struggle a bit at the higher intensities, not quite reaching my max.  Same goes for some delays on the 1st and 4th 30” intervals.

However what is noteworthy is that it handles the recovery portion very well, which no delays.  That’s definitely an improvement within the Garmin Elevate sensor algorithms compared to the past.

Here’s a bit of a more boring plot, with a simple 45 minute run on June 5th.  This was just a shake-out run so not much variation in my pace/HR, except towards the end.  During the last few minutes you’ll see those four bumps.  I simply pushed up the pace a bit and then slowed it down.  You’ll note on the 3rd pace-pushing bump the FR735XT did briefly struggle to correctly identify the higher HR, though caught back on afterwards.

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Below is a longer run from May 14th, about 80 minutes long.  In this case I was running at a steady-state paces, but I was increasing my cadence for each section.  This is notable because a common error point on HR sensors (optical and strap) can be locking onto your cadence.

You see here that the first few minutes are a bit of a mess.  Really nobody agrees, though the HR strap seems to offer the most logical HR values (a slow adaptation).  After that point though the units track very well for the vast majority of the run.  It’s only at the end of the run when I do some brief 30” sprints that we see a bit of disagreement, this time coming from the Vivoactive HR.  The FR735XT seems to handle this very well.

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Finally, a simple brick run on May 21st.  This is interesting because in this case I was coming off the bike, so I was both warmed up and the units had a chance to correctly understand my HR.  The green line is the Scosche Rhythm+, and the teal is the HRM-TRI.  The purple is the FR735XT.  This is interesting because it actually shows a case where the Scosche nailed the HR even when the HRM-TRI strap stumbled a bit.  It didn’t take 3 minutes for me to reach my higher level HR.  The FR735XT stumbled for the first 30-45 seconds, and then immediately matched my correct HR along with the Scosche.

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I think a lot of people often forget the challenges with HR straps that we’ve had for years, especially in either very dry conditions, or oddly the opposite (when you’re drenched and pooling sweat).  The second being the case where coming out of an indoor trainer session.

Speaking of indoor trainer sessions, let’s look at cycling.  Here’s one that was relatively straight forward from May 17th.  You’ll see a warm-up, and then a steady build towards a harder intensity.  In this case the FR735XT tracked perfectly, with no issues at all.

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Here’s another one from May 26th, where again it handles largely without issue on the trainer.  You do see a bit of an oddity at the very beginning, which I’d attribute to trying to get a video up and running on my laptop while warming up, so your bending your wrist in weird ways which seems to impact the optical HR sensor.  It’s a small pattern I’ve seen when on trainers, particularly during the warm-up phase when the HR is low.  It seems more susceptible to minor errors then.

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Finally, let’s zip outside for some riding.  Here’s a June 6th ride.  This ride took me across town (city riding) for the first 25 minutes, then I did loops for about 45-60 minutes, before coming riding back.  The loops were largely steady-state, though there was some higher intensity work here and there.

So at a quick glance, looking at the full 1hr 40min workout, you might say things looked good.

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But it’s important to dive into the different sections.  To begin, let’s start with the cross-town journey.  Here I’ve taken a few minute snippet out, showing a bit of stop and go.  This section also has some nice cobblestones in it.

You’ll notice the two HR chest straps I’m wearing largely agree, some slight differences, but the pretty much match.  However, the FR735XT just floats its way through the middle of this mess – never really being right.  Just sorta being in the average.  Like a lost boat.  The Mio Fuse also struggles briefly in one section, briefly locking right back on again.  This pattern for all these units was common during the cross-town portions, and is very common to what I’ve seen on the Garmin Elevate sensor while riding outdoors.

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Next, let’s look at the steady-state sections.  This being where I was on smooth pavement and basically just going round and round the loops.  In this case during those steady and even portions the unit tracked my HR spot-on.  Simply put: It had enough time to figure out my HR before I changed it.  But you can see that sprint mid-way through, in that case it failed to capture that and was significantly delayed there in catching up.  It basically missed the show.

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And the above graph completely summarizes my experience with the Elevate sensor while outdoors.  It’s perfectly fine if you’re doing relatively steady-state intensities (as most triathletes tend to do).  But if you’re doing sprints and and lots of short changes of intensity, then it’s not great.

Meanwhile, as I showed during running – it’s largely pretty good, but often struggles briefly at the beginning of runs, and in some cases at very high intensities.  Note that in all these cases I waited quite a bit at the start of a run prior to actually running, well past the point in which the sensor said it was locked/ready.

Here’s all my data from the above workouts that you’re welcome to dig through.  The charts allow you to look at any of the data seen above, plus plenty more.  Do note the ‘notes’ section at the bottom of each analysis page for any items relevant to data for that workout.  There are obviously many more below than in the chart snippets I’ve noted above.  Some better, some worse, some on par.  I tried above to capture the general gist of things.  But I include below for those that want to spend time digging around.

FR735XT Data Sets

DateWorkout TypeData TypeComparison Link
14-MayRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
15-MayOpenwater SwimGPSAnalyze
17-MayTrainerHRAnalyze
17-MayRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
18-MaySwimmingJust poolN/A
19-MayTrainerHRAnalyze
19-MayRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
21-MayTrainerHRAnalyze
21-MayRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
22-MayTriathlon RaceGPSAnalyze
24-MayTrainerJust one deviceN/A
25-MaySwimmingJust poolN/A
26-MayTrainerHRAnalyze
26-MayRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
27-MaySwimmingJust poolN/A
28-MayTrainerHRAnalyze
28-MayRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
29-MayTriathlon RaceGPSAnalyze
31-MayTrainerJust one deviceN/A
4-JunCyclingGPS/HRAnalyze
5-JunRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
6-JunCyclingGPS/HRAnalyze
8-JunRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
9-JunTrainerHRAnalyze
9-JunRunningGPS/HRAnalyze

Note that I use this same set of data below in the next section for the GPS & Barometric altimeter.

GPS & Altimeter Accuracy:

Garmin-FR735XT-GPS-Altitude-Accuracy

Now that we’ve covered the optical HR sensor’s accuracy, let’s talk about GPS and barometric altimeter accuracy.  First we’ll go with GPS.

In the case of the FR735XT it contains a GPS chipset capable of GLONASS. For virtually all of my tests I used it with GLONASS enabled, which assists in increasing the number of satellites available.  That helps in situations that might be more challenging.  Though, it does come with a 10-20% hit on battery life.

Note that in my accuracy testing I prefer to simply swim/bike/run like normal and see how the watch handles.  That means that one day I could be in the woods, another day in the city, and another day in the countryside.  I’m taking a multitude of units along on each activity (usually 2-5 additional units), so you can compare them side by side on that day.  I prefer this method because I think it’s more realistic than just using a single 400-800m long stretch over and over again.

In most cases, for my FR735XT tests I was also using at the same time a Polar V800, Suunto Ambit3 Peak and a Garmin FR920XT.  I’d also occasionally use a Suunto Ambit3 Vertical, Garmin Edge 520, Suunto Traverse, and Garmin FR630.

I’m going to briefly cover some highlights/lowlights of my GPS testing, and then there’s a table that you can dive into and look at the original comparative data all you’d like.  You can zoom in, poke around, or even download the original .FIT files and do your own analysis.  It’s the same table as above since it’s the same data.

First up let’s look at a 45 minute run from June 5th.  Nothing special, just a run down along the river, through a denser building area, and then back again.  Technically all of it would be ‘city running’, but this would be pretty easy running.  Here’s the high level overview before we dig into some sections.

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Things are actually pretty normal across the entire run, though I did want to briefly call out this section here towards the beginning.  It’s a few hundred meters long and there’s really nothing blocking satellites.  The FR735XT & FR920XT handled it well, while the Ambit3 Peak oddly stumbled quite a bit and went and visited the university.

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Though all units briefly struggled in a section in between two tall buildings on a narrow street:

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Later on in the run when I hit the buildings, the FR735XT matches the FR920XT and both track reasonably well given the tall buildings and running next to them.

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Up until this point I’ve been using the map mode because the contrast is easier for this post.  But in reality you should almost always use satellite mode when actually comparing tracks to where something went, as the drawn maps are rarely exactly perfect to real world GPS coordinates.  Satellite maps almost always match perfectly.  The bridge is a great example of that.  All three units correctly captured my position on the bridge, and when I changed sides.

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Moving along to another run, here’s my interval run from June 8th.  At the high level, things seem pretty good.

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But I want to look at how well things did on the loops.  Loops are great for testing because assuming you ran the exact track each time, it allows you to see if there’s any GPS drift, or other oddities, as those tracks stick out.  In the case of the below, we don’t see any of that from the FR735XT.  Its tracks are tightly aligned and thus they pretty much disappear into the multitude of loops (what you want).

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Finally, here’s a run from May 14th.  I wanted to show this bridge, because it often causes issues for units.  Specifically the turn onto the bridge, where units may cut the corner.  Here though, the FR735XT handles it perfectly.

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I could keep posting screenshots over and over again, but at this point, there’s just not GPS accuracy issues that I’m seeing in the routes I’ve run.

Instead, let’s turn to the GPS altimeter.  Now remember the FR735XT doesn’t have a barometric altimeter (which would use air pressure), but rather instead uses a GPS based altimeter.  I talk about how that works here.  In the vast majority of cases, I’ve seen GPS altimeter accuracy be pretty satisfactory for most users need.  But in this case I’ve seen pretty non-awesome performance with the FR735XT for the altimeter.

Keep in mind that normally if you upload to Garmin Connect (or almost any 3rd party platform), then it will automatically correct your elevation data for you.  You’ll see that shown on the right side of each activity for example:

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But that doesn’t help you mid-activity, if you wanted to look at elevation data then.  Take for example this run from May 14th.  It’s pretty darn flat, just keep on eye on the scale.  Now I like to let watches figure out the initial elevation themselves, just like any other user would.  Unless you’re hiking in the mountains and there’s an elevation marker, most of us don’t have those nearby.  As a result, each one has slightly different elevation tracks – but they’re all consistent.  Except one: The FR735XT.  It looks like a drunk 2 year old (it’s in purple).

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Here, another theoretically flat run on May 17th, and again, the FR735XT is lost in space.  Though, at least unlike the Polar V800 it showed being above ground level.

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I started to wonder if the unit was defective. So I brought another FR735XT along with me on this May 19th, now two FR735XT’s!  And yet, both are completely nuts.  They don’t even match each other.

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Or this interval run from earlier this week on June 8th.  Seriously, WTF chuck?

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Perhaps Garmin can fix this, perhaps not.  As I noted earlier, if you don’t use elevation fields during an activity to visually look at, then quite frankly this won’t bug you.  But if you do – then this is pretty rough.

Here’s the table of all my activities on the FR735XT.  Note that some are indoor activities, so they don’t have GPS data obviously (but do have HR data).  Since it’s the same table as in the HR section it’s a mixture of everything.  I’ve made it easy to know which is which.

FR735XT Data Sets

DateWorkout TypeData TypeComparison Link
14-MayRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
15-MayOpenwater SwimGPSAnalyze
17-MayTrainerHRAnalyze
17-MayRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
18-MaySwimmingJust poolN/A
19-MayTrainerHRAnalyze
19-MayRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
21-MayTrainerHRAnalyze
21-MayRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
22-MayTriathlon RaceGPSAnalyze
24-MayTrainerJust one deviceN/A
25-MaySwimmingJust poolN/A
26-MayTrainerHRAnalyze
26-MayRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
27-MaySwimmingJust poolN/A
28-MayTrainerHRAnalyze
28-MayRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
29-MayTriathlon RaceGPSAnalyze
31-MayTrainerJust one deviceN/A
4-JunCyclingGPS/HRAnalyze
5-JunRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
6-JunCyclingGPS/HRAnalyze
8-JunRunningGPS/HRAnalyze
9-JunTrainerHRAnalyze
9-JunRunningGPS/HRAnalyze

Again, you can download each set’s worth of data after you click on the given link for that set towards the bottom.  The sets are well labeled, which should make it easy to understand which devices I’m using.

Smartphone Integration:

Garmin-Smartphone-Integration-FR735XT

The FR735XT integrates with your smartphone, like virtually all fitness watches these days.  In the case of the Garmin lineup, it’s compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows smartphone devices.   To get started you’ll install the Garmin Connect Mobile app and then pair up the watch via Bluetooth Smart.

The app will automatically sync with your phone in the background via that Bluetooth Smart connectivity.  This is a low-power protocol, so there’s negligible battery life impact on your phone or the watch.  Note that this is the only time the watch uses Bluetooth Smart, as it doesn’t connect to Bluetooth Smart sensors.

The app will be syncing both your workouts as well as your 24×7 activity data (steps, sleep, continuous HR measurements).  It can also be used to send structured workouts to the watch and sync some settings.  Lastly, it can also be used for audio cue paces, which allows you to receive pace markers/alerts during your run if you’re wearing headphones connected to your phone.  Said differently: The phone is the middleman, the watch can’t directly connect to headphones.

Garmin-FR735XT-Audio-Cues 2016-06-10 14.37.14

In addition to the sync of activity data, the Bluetooth Smart channel is used for smartphone notifications as well as some Garmin Connect IQ apps/widgets.

For example, when a new text message or notification comes into my phone, the watch will display it instantly.  I can go ahead and clear the notification from the watch (and thus my phone), as well as open up the notification to read the whole thing.  There’s been some minor improvements here (at least on iOS) that now make this experience a bit cleaner than in the past.  You still can’t respond to messages like you can on the Apple Watch, but it’s definitely more improved (for example, it doesn’t usually duplicate-notify you on both devices).

Garmin-FR735XT-SmartphoneNotifications

Unlike Fitbit, the Garmin platform allows you to use any smartphone notification that hits your phone’s notification center.  So it’s not just texts/calls/calendar alerts, but anything from Snapchat to WhatsApp, Instagram and more.

Garmin-FR735XT-Smartphone-Notification-Center

Overall the smartphone integration piece has worked well for me (on iOS with an iPhone 6), and I’ve pretty much had no issues in that realm.  Sync is quick, and most of the times my workout is sync’d to Strava in the background (via Garmin Connect) well before I finish putting away my bike.

Bugs and Quirks:

Garmin-FR735XT-Software-Update

While the FR735XT is pretty solid, there are definitely a few little quirks.  Most are minor, though one or two drive me crazy.  Some are technical bugs (i.e., broken things), while others are what the software industry calls ‘by design’, which means I’m going to try and change someone’s mind.  Hopefully for your sake, I succeed.

Note that all bugs/thoughts are as of the most current firmware version on June 9th, 2016, which is v3.20.  I’ll cross things off down the road if/when they change.

Bug: I’ve seen once where it didn’t pickup my power meter during the bike portion of a triathlon race.  Another unit did correctly pick it up, which validates the power meter was transmitting fine.  Additionally, after the race the FR735XT then picked it up again.  So it just failed to do so during that one leg.  I haven’t seen this occur any other time, though one reader has seen it happen once as well.

Bug: Elevation data sucks.  I wrote an entire section on this.

Bugish: While GPS-on battery life has definitely exceeded expectations, I don’t think 24×7 mode has. I seem to be getting barely 3-5 days in between charges.  And that’s accounting for a roughly 1hr GPS workout each day (some days longer, some days shorter, but that’s a safe average).  The spec 24×7 battery is 11 days (assuming no GPS).  So it perhaps seems just a touch low to me if I’m getting 3-4 days in some cases, where 5-6 days seems more normal.

Quirk: You can’t broadcast your HR while in an activity.  This limits being able to use the function, especially with trainer apps (where the optical HR sensor actually works fairly well). [Update – Aug 14th, 2016: Now you can with the new firmware update released this weekend. Woot!]

Quirk: I *hate* that I can’t get into the menus once I’ve started a sport mode.  A perfect example is auto-lap settings.  I use auto-lap on my long runs, but not my interval runs.  I usually forget to change this setting until I’m a few minutes into the run.  On every other Garmin watch I can simply dive into the settings options while running. But not on the FR735XT.  I can only change the current data fields for just that one page.  That’s it.  It’s super annoying. There’s a bunch of other annoyances here tied to not being able to get into the settings, but this is the easiest to point out. [Update – March 2017 – This has now been fixed in a firmware update]

Quirk: There’s no quick release kit available for it at this time.  So if you used one on your FR305/310XT/910XT/920XT/Fenix3, then you’ll be without one here.

Ok, that’s the gist of them.  I’m sure there are other little things that people don’t like, but those are kinda my top annoyances and or bugs that I’ve stumbled into.

Product Comparison Charts:

I’ve added the Garmin FR735XT into the product comparison tool.  This allows you to compare it against any other watch I’ve reviewed or spent significant time with.  That’s below after this little chart.  However, for the purposes of this post I’ve also put together a mini-chart that helps you to understand the more nuanced differences between the Garmin Fenix3, FR920XT, and FR735XT.  Obviously, it can be a bit confusing since all three triathlon watches are so similar.  So hopefully this helps there.

Garmin Triathlon Watch Comparison

FeatureFR920XTFR735XTFenix3Fenix3 HR
Price$449 $449 $499 $599
GPS Battery (Official Durations)24 hours14 hours20 hours16 hours
Barometric AltimeterYesNoYesYes
Optical HR SensorNoYesNoYes
Quick Release KitYesNoYesYes (but blocks optical sensor)
Largest Display ScreenYesNoNoNo
Swim workout supportYesYesYesYes
Works with HRM-SWIM/TRIYesYesYesYes
Varia Radar SupportNoYesNoNo
Varia Lights SupportNoYesNoNo
Varia Vision (HUD) SupportNoYesNoNo
Gear Shifting: Shimano Di2 SupportYesYesNoNo
Power Meter SupportYesYesYesYes
FTP Testing FunctionalityNoYesNoNo
Basic Course FollowingYesYesYesYes
Advanced Hiking/Navigation FunctionsNoNoYesYes
3D Distance, Climbing ScreensNoNoYesYes
Lactate Threshold TestNoWith HR StrapWith HR StrapWith HR Strap
Intensity Minutes metricsNoYesYesYes
Phone based audio promptsNoYesYesYEs
Supports Connect IQ for AppsYesYesYesYes
Strava Suffer Score (App)YesYesYesYes
Strava Live SegmentsNoYesNoNo
Bluetooth Smart/USB TransfersYesYesYesYes
WiFi TransfersYesNoYesYes
TouchscreenNoNoNono

I also put together a short video explaining the above as well, which you can watch here:

Next, here’s how it compares to the Polar V800, and Suunto Ambit3 Sport.  I selected the Sport instead of the Peak simply because the Sport lacks a barometric altimeter, whereas the Peak has that (and the Peak would better match-up against the Fenix3).  Again, remember you can mix and match your own charts using the product comparison tool.

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated August 10th, 2017 @ 3:45 pmNew Window
Price$399$449$399
Product Announcement DateMay 11th, 2016Jan 6th, 2014July 10th, 2014
Actual Availability/Shipping DateMay 11th, 2016May 2014Sept 2014
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB/Bluetooth SmartUSB, BLUETOOTH SMARTUSB & Bluetooth Smart
WaterproofingYes - 50mYes - 30mYes - 50m
Battery Life (GPS)14 hours in GPS-onUp to 50 hours25 hours
Recording Interval1S OR SMART1sVariable
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYesSorta, predictive but not cached.Yes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGoodGreat
AlertsVibrate/Sound/VisualVibrate/Sound/VisualSound/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGoodGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesNoYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesYesYes (no steps though)
Can control phone musicYesNoNo
Has music storage and playbackNoNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YEsYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesNoNo
Group trackingNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Designed for cyclingYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesYesYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYEsYesYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFYesNPNo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceYesNoNo
Crash detectionNoNo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Designed for runningYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYesYes (internal accelerometer)
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)YEsNoNo (but does work with Stryd for running power)
VO2Max EstimationYesYesYes
Race PredictorYEsYes, via Race PaceNo
Recovery AdvisorYesYesYEs
Run/Walk ModeYEsYes, via timersno
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Designed for swimmingYesYesYes
Openwater swimming modeYesYesYes
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesYesYes
Record HR underwaterWITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIMWith Certain Polar StrapsYes
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesYes
Indoor Drill ModeYesNoYes
Indoor auto-pause featureNoNoNo
Change pool sizeYesYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths17M/18Y TO 150Y/M20M/Y to 250 m/y15m/y to 1,200m/y
Ability to customize data fieldsYesYesYes
Can change yards to metersYEsYesYEs
Captures per length data - indoorsYEsYesYes
Indoor AlertsYesN/ANo
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Designed for triathlonYesYesYes
Multisport modeYesYesYes
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesBarely with 3rd party apps
On-unit interval FeatureYesYesBarely
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYesNo
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Auto Start/StopYEsYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesYesNo
Virtual Racer FeatureYesNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesNoNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNo
GeocachingNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)YesNoNo
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYesYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionSaved locations onlyYesYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNo
Back to startYesYesYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitYesYesDownload pre-created only
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Altimeter TypeGPSBarometricGPS
Compass TypeGPSMagneticMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesNoNo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesNoNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesNoNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlYesNoNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationYesNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)NoNoNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingYesNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNOYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapablenOYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapablenOYesYes
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoYesNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)YesNoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR tools-YesYes
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressPolar Flowsync - Windows/MacMoveslink Agent
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectPolar FlowMovescount
Phone AppiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/AndroidiOS/Android
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoYes (online)
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

And lastly, remember you can mix and match your own charts and change up the watches using the product comparison tool here.

Summary:

Garmin-FR735XT-Triathlon-Optical-HR-Sensor

Overall the FR735XT is a pretty darn capable watch in a pretty darn small package.  While the price is just as expensive as Garmin’s other (more capable) GPS multisport watches, you’re effectively trading size for features.  For most folks, that tradeoff will likely be worth it.  Yet for others, you’ll want the quick release kit, more accurate altimeter, or longer battery life.

Pivoting to using it as a pure running watch (for non-mountain areas), the unit worked great for me.  I could see a case where if you were waiting for a FR630 with optical HR, this watch is effectively that (minus the touch screen, which nobody really wants anyway).  It’ll cost you $50 more than the FR630, but you’ll get an optical HR sensor tossed in.  Of course like the FR630 there are some features that’ll still require a HR strap (such as the Lactate Threshold functionality), so do keep that in mind.  After all, it’s why many people have opted for the much cheaper FR235 for pure running.

Hopefully Garmin can tweak some of the minor software issues I saw, especially items like the menu functionality – which should be easy to address.  Or the odd absence of MoveIQ.  However, pieces like the lack of a barometric altimeter can’t be solved via firmware update.  That’d require a totally new hardware platform.  Oh, and before you ask: No, I don’t know when they’ll stick an optical HR sensor in the FR920XT.  I think most people would answer that’s called the Fenix3 HR.

With that – thanks for reading!

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769 Comments

  1. Alex

    Frustratingly they announced this about 10 days after I bought a 235 (primarily to replace a 310xt for running). I’d love to be able to capture the bike power on the watch – is it feasible it could be added to a 235 (eventually via firmware) or is the chipset different?

  2. CMV

    Loved the Oreo comparison!
    I already run with Oreos in my pocket, now I’m going to have to try moving one to the wrist!

  3. Yup, a month after I get the 920xt.

  4. rlo_servo

    Sadly my wife is into those 100 calorie thin Oreos, so she demands her watches follow suit. What a wuss.

    I like Double Stuffs, so Fenix 3 HR it is!

  5. Bryan

    I agree that not being able to go back and change settings during an activity is FRUSTRATING!! I run into the exact scenario you speak of often! Never a problem on my previous Garmins!

    • Lee

      It may not be ideal, but if you just pause the timer you can access a pretty complete range of settings (like auto-lap) from the menu that pops up. Then just back out and resume your activity.

  6. Thanks for the great review! I did have one thought…

    “So for triathletes that means you’re wearing it on your wrist the entire time, which may not be ideal on the bike segment in terms of seeing your data stats.”

    Since you have Garmin’s ear from time to time…

    This “problem” could be solved tremendously easily if they (or someone else I guess) would be willing to put out a modern, high-quality ANT+ head unit without GPS that didn’t suck. Battery life in months, should retail around $50, and there’d be no need to futz around with quick releases.

    The one thing that they’d need to fix would be broadcasting HR, but ideally if they don’t want to do that all the time for battery reasons they could detect the presence of their own head unit and only add in broadcast when its nearby. It doesn’t feel like full time broadcast would make much of a difference though if it was only done while the timer was active.

    I have some random ANT+ unit on my bike and it works “okay”, but its really hard to find a dumb head unit (advantage: nobody steals it, 6 month battery life, etc) that’s not terrible. Very few are even up to the level of the (sadly proprietary) Cateye units.

    • rlo_servo

      I completely agree. Easy-to-use head units seem like the most ideal option. Not that this replaces the dumb head-unit in any way, but in order to simplify, one might try something a little off-the-wall like link to getedgegear.com. I backed this kickstarter way back when and I have forgotten a few times that I did, but it seems they should be shipping this month or next. I don’t bike outdoors often enough for it to really impact my abilities, but the position shift of the watchface on-hand could make it useful enough to some that it could bridge the gap between uselessness to jusssst useful-enough-to-get-by.

    • Emma

      I would buy something like that in a heartbeat. It makes so much sense for my 920 to stay on my wrist and broadcast to a dumb head unit just to display the data on the bike. Right now I run a 310 on the bike but that has the problem of having to start/stop it independently of also starting/stopping the 920. Easy in transition to mess at least one of the two up!

    • Chris

      So you’re looking for a Wahoo RFLKT but that receives ANT+ instead of Bluetooth. Alternatively there’s the Varia Vision. It’s a HUD, but exactly what you want, a dumb screen. So I guess what you really want is the RFLKT/Varia Vision offspring.

    • I actually use the PowerTap Joule, but it seems like they no longer make the cheap one with the 6-month battery life. Its just “okay”. All I really want is a screen that wakes up when it starts receiving signal and shows speed, cadence, HR and power. Having a reset-able odometer would be a nice fifth field. I don’t need metrics, min/max, or any of that BS – no modes to be in the wrong one of – just four realtime ANT+ readings and that odometer, preferably on a nice big readable display. Alerts, recording, etc can all be handled by the watch.

    • And @Emma – it doesn’t even need to be broadcast from the watch (except for optical HR) – ANT+ device signals can be received by many receivers simultaneously, so just pair your head unit and your watch to the same power meter or whatever and you’re golden.

    • Pablo

      I think this a pretty good idea. Ray, which “dumb unit” would you recommend?

    • Pablo

      Hi Ray,
      I checked your run in the 19th, what happened to your X with the 735? It went really off in minute 6.

      Thanks!

    • Pablo – I’d say it crapped itself. Nice catch, totally missed that one when looking back through files. :-/

      RE: Dumb units – That’s tough, since really there are very few on the market. Wahoo makes the RFLKT+, Bontrager makes the Node. And Cateye makes one too. The Wahoo and Node are a bit older, though the RFLKT+ has continued to get semi-random updates. I think the Cateye has the most overall features though.

    • JD

      That is what I use, a dumb Cateeye Strada Smart (ironically named for the dumb head unit). I have my watch (fenix 3 hr) on my wrist the entire time for actual recording and while cycling I just have my speed / cadence (wahoo blue sc on my hybrid or giant ridesense on my road bike so I can float between the two and not have to change settings) in sensor direct mode through bluetooth to it so I can monitor mainly my cadence, instant speed, and time where my watch shows me lap speed.

      It can also handle a bluetooth power meter too (the dual broadcast ones so I can also have it go to my watch) if I ever make that splurge. I do not care about pulling that data as I only look at it when needed during the ride, I have the watch for recording and keeping.

      I would have preferred having the unit an ant+ so I could on the trainer have the speed / cadence going to my tablet which is bluetooth only to record through the trainer app and see the data everywhere. But maybe I should just use an old laptop and ant+ dongle for that case when I get a chance to set that up.

  7. Graham R

    Interesting Garmin Connect app screenshot – I don’t have the weather alerts option here – iOS and in Canada – Wonder if its watch-based, app version, or regional…. running a Fenix 3 here on 7.0 final and GC iOS app version 3.6.0.12

  8. MAGNUS

    Great review, thanks Ray!

    I’ve had the Fenix3 since it was released and now Fenix3HR. I’ve been quite happy with the unit but would definitely consider buying this without the oHR. After having used my wife’s 230, it almost feels like I’m not even wearing a watch. A variant without should, at least I would imagine, retail 20-25% less, which is a price I would happily pay for the size/weight.

    • Tim Grose

      We were discussing this on the Garmin 735 forum the other day and I don’t think having the oHR or not these days is going to have much of an impact on the price given Garmin are putting it into more and more watches now and so the dev costs are being spread around. Anyway I mostly don’t use it for actual training but nice to have it there anyway. I can’t tell any real difference wearing a 230 or a 735…

    • The 230/235 delta is $50, and the Fenix3/Fenix3HR delta is $100 – so who knows what the real cost delta is, and what’s just marketing/positioning…

    • John

      Echoing this, I would love to see a Fenix 3 HR (Jr?) in a plastic, lightweight body. Some say that is the VAHR. I disagree as I tried that watch and did not like it.

  9. Mike S.

    Hi Ray,

    Very good and comprehensive review as always.

    I took advantage of the sale last month and got the Garmin 235. What I was wondering is, will (or should) the Elevate HRM be as accurate for every watch it is on? Are improvements through firmware updates rolled out to all the watches? If I ever get into triathlons, I will be looking very hard at this watch.

  10. David E.

    Great review, as always, Ray. How many, if any, of the added functions do you think might trickle down (or over) to the 920xt through software updates? For example, I’ve just been thinking about getting the Varia radar, and it would be nice if I could use it with my 920xt.

    • I suspect the end of the line for new features might have come for the FR920XT. If any unit were to get Varia Radar, I’d think it might be the Fenix3.

      That said, when Garmin wants to add support for their other hardware products, we do occasionally see interesting things happen that would otherwise not be seen.

    • David E.

      Thanks, Ray. One other question on the optical HR. You mention that the position of the watch matters. Does the HR work if you wear the watch inward facing? I’m trying to imagine life without a quick release, and it seems like the best view I would have of the watch while in aero on my bike might be with the watch on the inside of my wrist rather than its normal position on top of the wrist. Thanks.

    • Chris

      I have this watch and it does work with the face on the inside of your arm. In fact I remember reading in a different optical HR watch review of Ray’s that these things actually work better like that.

    • don

      If they want to sell more of the Radar units, adding compatibility to the 920XT would increase the adressesable market by a fair bit. There’s a lot of them out there, many of them in the hands of active triathletes who spend a lot of money on gear.

      I for one am holding out for that combo. And it’s not really about the cost of the head unit (or Edge 25/520), it’s just that the 920XT is my go to device and I just don’t want to have to deal with even more electronics on my bike.

      Great if you could pitch it to Garmin :). Maybe if rather than of looking at it as maintenance of the 920XT, they instead view it as a potential sales boost of the Radar it will give them more of an incentive.

  11. Bill Wood

    > I *hate* that I can’t get into the menus once I’ve started a sport mode.
    I thought this at first too, but if you pause the activity manually, the menu appears with Resume, Save, etc on it. That menu also includes Activity Settings and others.

  12. Scott

    Not sad to see the barometric altimeter go. Warrantied my 910 about 5 times due to it crapping out. Would much rather live with the GPS altitude than go through that again.

    • The 910XT was impacted because of the altimeter port design, haven’t really seen that issue in the Fenix3 or FR920XT. In fact, they moved the location a bit.

    • Nico

      There are indeed threads about failing barometric altimeters on the 920 forums.
      Anyway, I like it without altimeter if it makes the watch smaller.
      To restore propre elevation reading, couldn’t Garmin issue a tempe and barometric altimeter pod ? Easy to use and accurate….
      Thanks for the reviews

  13. Tim Grose

    Re the quirk about Auto Lap etc there is a “sort of” workaround in that you can access the activity settings if you stop (effectively pause) the timer. No way of getting to the Navigation menu however which I do find annoying!

  14. Hi Ray ! thanks for this review

    Is it possible to lock the button with a push on ON/OFF like on the Fenix 3 ?

    I had troubles with my lap button being pressed by mates at the start of the swim part of a triathlon, so, now I start the activity and LOCK the watch

  15. Chris

    I have the 735 and love it. Wanted to comment on the battery life as I’ve had better results than you seem to have in 24×7 mode. I got mine on a Friday, charged it to 100% on Saturday morning and didn’t charge it again until the following Sunday, 8 days later. At that point it was at 24%, so still plenty of juice. During that time I did 3 outdoor runs of ~30 minutes and 3 indoor rides of ~45 minutes where the watch was in HR broadcast mode.

  16. Jimmy Stevenson

    I know I’m not the first to say it, but the Oreo thing cracked me up…and now I expect all watch reviews to have cookie comparisons. 920xt vs. Lorna Doone’s, One of those square jam filled English biscuits vs. v800, etc.

    • Patrick

      I was cracking up in my chair so hard, my wife thought I had gone nuts. Then I showed her the Oreo pic and she basically left, continuing to think I was nuts.

  17. Gaylen Fair

    Wow! Great review (the oreos are hilarious). I’ve been wanting the 920xt for some time now, but I like the style this watch way better! One question, which you may have answered in your previous review:

    Does the TRI-HRM have the same functionality as the RUN-HRM? Like measuring cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time?

  18. Rich

    Thanks Ray, been waiting for this :)

    Techy question, what does the varia vision show during navigation?

    The varia vision seems to show turn-by-turn but the 735 doesn’t do that, so wondering if it works at all or shows something else?

    Cheers, Rich

  19. Tim Grose

    Speaking of courses and turn by turn navigation there is one seemingly undocumented feature with the 735 (that you don’t seemingly get on a 920 or Fenix 3) in that if you create a course on GC and send it to your 735 via the mobile app then it adds in course points to effectively give you simply turn by turn navigation. Here is a pic I took when I was approaching a turn link to instagram.com

    • Rich

      That’s really cool, thanks for posting that Tim! Its stuff like that which make the difference to me buying it to replace my old running watch and Edge 500 basically. It’s clearly just firmware at the end of the day, guess if they made them too good though nobody would buy Edges :)

    • Wouter

      Thanks for mentioning this feature. Very interesting. How is your experience with gps accuracy during navigation? I currently have the ambit2 run, and the usability of its navigation features also in trail settings/wood setting is really nice. I would like to go for the 735xt (optical hr, vibration alerts, running dynamics, size), but not want worse navigation … do you think the navigation is on par with the ambits?

    • Tim Grose

      I’ve not had any particular problems with GPS accuracy.

    • Hi Tim

      Just to clarify you can do this on the Fenix 3 too – I do it all the time, though the process is a little more long winded. I typically create a course file on RidewithGps, export as tcx, then use a tool from here link to runningbadger.blogspot.co.uk to convert to fit (because the fenix3 cannot parse gpx or tcx for some reason) and drag the resulting file on to the courses or newfiles folder on the fenix 3. Works great!

      Ray – I couldn’t see a link to that tool on your tools page – might be worth adding?

      Cheers

      Ian

    • ChrisR

      I now have the 735XT but I needed navigation yesterday so I used my Suunto Ambit2… I’m not that smart, any youtube video which explains how navigation works on the 735XT?

  20. Patrick

    I’m with ya on the accessing menus while in activity. Having different settings for specific interval runs vs. more steady state runs would be great. I never remember to switch alarms, laps, etc and would also like different screen for different types of runs. Kind of like the 510’s different activity profiles.

    • Tim Grose

      Well you can setup an activity profile with activity settings for say “Intervals” as opposed to the regular Run profile with whatever you like there.

  21. Hey Ray,
    Regarding the “psuedo-multisport” you found where you can just switch to a new activity on the fly, how does that look in Garmin Connect when you upload it? Does it upload each of the sports individually like separate activities, or does it combine them into one “multisport” event like it does when using the regular multi-sport mode?

    I ask this because of a big pet peeve I just found and confirmed with Garmin support. On single activities, I can turn on the Elevation correction and have Garmin Connect use GPS data instead of the barometer (920XT). However, in multi-sport mode, you can’t toggle that in Garmin Connect. For long events like 70.3 and greater, the pressure difference from 7 am to 3 or 4pm can be quit substantial from the temperature change. That really jacks up the true elevation gain.

  22. Tim S

    I picked up the 235 when it went on sale a few weeks back and I have the same question about the OHR sensor. Does the Elevate HRM improve with each new watch or does it function the same across all watches?

  23. Steven Brown

    Would really like to know why newest line of Garmin’s watches don’t have Strava Live Segments. This would be a killer feature for me that has been on cycling watches for some time, and I assumed would follow on to the next line of Garmin running devices.

    Wonder if it’s coming, or whether it will never happen because they are worried about cannibalising Edge sales…

  24. Thomas Edisto

    I love my 735XT so far. It has a couple of annoying missing features once enjoyed on my 110, 610, and 620, but I can live with that. Unfortunately, unlike your GPS tests, mine are not so good. 400 meter loops at my local track are clocking in consistently at 440. Map zooming shows me doing superhero jumps into the grandstand. Screwing up all my intervals, 200s 400s, 600s etc. I benchmarked it twice against my old 620 and my son’s Forerunner 15 (!!) and both those units are bang on accurate. Is it possible for the unit to be faulty? If so, how so? Tech support trying to blame on tall buildings (there is only one semi-tall building). I may need to exchange.

    • Tim Grose

      There was a report on the Garmin 735 forum where a user had some of these “jumps” you describe. In the end, he got a replacement and that one seems OK. So yes maybe you have a bad one. Is it on your left wrist at the track however?

  25. Robert

    My 11-year-old son and I are still laughing about the Oreos!!!

  26. morey

    Great review. kinda’ amazing how far these watches have come in a few years.

    1. For swim mode HR. Can it pick up a real-time HR (like a Scosche on your wrist) and display during swim modes? or just the garmin swim HR device?

    2. Theory: The reason for No transmission of HR during an activity may be due to electromagnetic interference. i.e. it might reduce GPS accuracy, and Garmin doesn’t want a bunch of accuracy complaints. ??? you could ask them. otherwise, it’s clearly something that could be changed in firmware updates.

  27. Teriemer

    Ray – if you stop the timer during an exercise, you can access settings. But you’ll have to stop a do your changes, hence you miss some travelled distance, if you continue while stopped. But it can be done that way…

  28. @theho

    As an activity tracker, does it have a vibrating alarm clock? I currently use a gen1 pebble and I can set alarms on it to wake me by vibrating which I really like.

  29. Frank

    Hi Ray

    Thanks for the review, just to be sure. The 15 hours test is that with or without glonass enabled?

    Thanks

  30. Aaron

    What, no water proof/pressure testing on the Oreo?

    My son was giggling on the flood with the Oreo size comparison -especially the scales.

  31. Michael

    If it fails to record power data during a triathlon I am not going to be a happy camper! I bought the 735xt to replace an Ambit 2s purely due to power readings dropping out with the Ambit. I hope I didn’t just waste $449.

  32. Bailey

    “It’s also plastic, just like the FR235 and FR725XT.”

    I think you mean FR910XT rather than FR725XT.

  33. TrailzRock

    So, I replaced my Fenix 3 with the FR 735XT only because it’s much smaller and lighter. But I have to say, that I miss my Fenix 3. The function layout was soooo much better. They’ve watered down the 735 XT. Some of the features which I believe are much better on the fenix 3 are: 1) alarms. I use my watch to wake up with and the fenix 3 has a snooze and alarm customization far better than the 735XT. 2) More date pages on the fenix 3. Easier to change the data in the pages on the fenix 3. 3) ability to calibrate the footpod on the fenix 3 not on the 735xt. Access temp sensor from the widget menu on the fenix 3. not on the 735xt. Barometeric pressure on the fenix3. not on the 735xt. the 735xt also dropped my power meter midway through my ride. Stairs climbed on the fenix 3, not on the 735xt. Yes, it’s all about the barometric pressure. One thing that I’d love to see Garmin do is allow pairing of their watches to treadmills for matching elevation gain, speed and distance data with the treadmill. and whatever else info the treadmill throws out. the 310xt could pair with a concept 2 rower. neither the fenix 3 or the fr 735xt can do that. I’d love to see garmin devices pair with indoor rowers.

  34. Kyle Polansky

    No Wifi upload supported either :( Will the watch sync to a computer via Bluetooth smart, or is a mobile device required to sync outside of USB?

    • Tim Grose

      You use the Garmin Connect Mobile app (iOS or Android or Windows) to sync. It uses Bluetooth but the app controls the process for you. I don’t miss WiFi as even on devices that I have it on then the Bluetooth/app method generally “wins” especially when you don’t finish a run at your own doorstep.

  35. Dr Matt

    Overall, 735 works great for my day to day training–and I like this form factor the best. Main quirks for me: there’s no 3sec pause option for swimming laps like the garmin swim; randomly unpairs with my phone requiring me to turn off/on; pairing with my Powerpod takes awhile (though not sure who’s fault that is)

  36. Vasvits

    It might not be a watch but when it come to GPS accuracy there is nothing better than a Asus Zenfone 2 (ZE551ML). This phone uses a Broadcom GPS chipset and somehow manages to be +-40 accurate in a 12k run. It should be used as a reference GPS.

  37. Gab

    i tried using the indoor trainer, using both the garmin speed and cadence sensors

    i was broadcasting to both the 520 and the 735xt.

    the cadence info was similar but the speed readings on the 735xt were about 0.7km/h different from the 520 consistently

    what might be the issue?

    • Gab

      Just finished a short session on the trainer
      520 read as 15.76km done (inaccurate i know)
      735xt read as 15.52km

      shouldnt both computers give the same reading since the same sensors are being used to generate the data on the same bike? Or is there some sort of interference or dropout if more than 1 computer is used?

    • Paul S.

      Are the wheel sizes the same on both devices? The sensor does not send speed (which is zero in this case), it sends wheel rotations. It’s up to the head units to convert to speed and distance. If you’ve calibrated the size using GPS, it’s more than possible the devices came up with different numbers.

    • Agree with Paul, definitely sounds like a wheelsize issue. Super easy to fix.

  38. Andy

    Ray, great review. You are the best!

    The oreo thing cracked me up, especially the DIY size measurement tool – very creative :)

    Btw, do you get credit from amazon.co.uk or just amazon.com? The other day I bought a bunch of stuff on amazon.co.uk, so to be grateful to you I went via your website but got to amazon.com, and only from there changed to amazon.co.uk. Hope you’ll get a credit for that

    • Thanks! You can use any Amazon. In theory, the Amazon.com links will automatically convert to Amazon.co.uk if you’re from the UK. Or Amazon.fr if you’re in France, etc…

      But if you just want a shortcut, directly below the big sidebar Amazon logo (on right side) there are a bunch of country-specific links. Simply click any of those and then once you land on Amazon you can search for what you’d like then and I’ll still get credit.

      Thanks for the support!

  39. Sam.

    Instant pace : according to manuals, you can’t use an external (operational) footpod to display the instant pace.

    You can do that on a F3/F3HR, also on an old FR610 (I just discover that this week as I search a way to improve the instant pace accuracy). But not on an costly 735XT or 630, neither cheaper 230/235. It’s not something we can considers as an “advanced feature”. Regrettable choice.

    As a runner, I also see a 735XT like a 630 alternative without its touch screen (but without wifi).

    • Tim Grose

      No need for regrets! You can use a foot pod as the speed source even for GPS runs with the 735.

    • Sam.

      Thanks Tim for your precision.

      The way manuals are written is really disturbing. It’s explicitly mentioned in F3 and F3HR manuals, at least in French manuals (I thing it’s the same thing for other languages). But nothing for others recent products. For a reader the obvious conclusion is : F3/F3HR can, others can’t.

      There are already many products, if we can’t trust manuals to check features, it become really challenging to choose a product. It’s rather an omission than a real mistake in manuals, but it’s annoying.

    • Colin

      Garmin’s user manuals and related documentation are really terrible. I recently received a response from customer service that included a long prepared document that must have been written at least 6 years ago and that didn’t even acknowledge the existence of the product I asked about. I had to email customer service in the first place because I couldn’t find any answers in the user manual or their support site.

  40. Chris

    Shame that 24/7 HR tracking and RHR is still so poor. I would like to replace my Fenix3 (non-HR) and Fitbit Charge HR combination with a 735xt, but while not perfect that Fitbit HR tracking seems still miles ahead of Garmin in terms of update frequency and RHR accuracy :(

  41. cga

    Nice review. I bought the 735XT a week ago, and I’m happy with my purchase. Glad to read that your review of the – for me – important features of this watch are in line with my own experience.

    One dumb question about the OHR; in the “pulse widget”; what do the OHR actually do when the heart icon is “beating”? Does it measure/read HR at all when the icon is blinking/beating, or does it only do this while the icon is solid/fixed?

    • Tim Grose

      When it is blinking it is trying to get a stable OHR reading and when has done so it stops blinking. Usually I find the “when blinking” reading to be about right.

  42. Jiri

    It seems there are many diffs between 735xt and F3HR. Some in Navigation:
    * 735 cannot read GPX files form NEWFILES folder and automatically use create a course, F3 can
    * 735 cannot move map screeen left/right up/down in navigation – F3 can
    * 735 cannot (dont know if F3 can) navigate via previous activity (can only back to start for currently running
    acitivity) which means you cannot split activity. Eg. run there, do some exercise as another activity there, and walk back using Navigation. As soon as you stop and save the activity, you are lost in the terrain and cannot use GPS records to get back. It is really bad, as you need to use PC to extract>create>upload course.
    And although you do that you cannot navigate from end of the course to start.

    2 QUESTIONs for F3
    — Can the F3 optionally navigate backwards from end to start for courses?
    — Can F3 use saved acitivites as courses right from the watch without PC or mobile?

    Also the pointing blue arrow could have black thin border to be more visible (light blue arrow on light green path witch white background is bad contrast, but it is same in F3 as I know)

    • Tim Grose

      You certainly would not opt for a 735 if your primary purpose is advanced navigation although it is more capable than most Forerunners and the turn by turn feature with courses I mentioned earlier is useful. If I wanted to be sure of getting back to somewhere, I would also mark the location with Where Am I before starting. Also if you enable the map page then you can use Back to Start in conjunction with the map page. Just don’t stop/save the timer but if you did then you can use the saved location to guide you back.

      You can’t create or reverse courses on the 735. Fenix 3 appears to have a lot more memory than the Forerunners have and, as such, Garmin seem to take out lesser used features from the watch and especially those you can do externally on GC etc. Workout creation is another good example.

  43. Marcus

    Great review! How about HRV data is that saved to the .fit file?

    • Jiri

      And how to
      – ENABLE and especially how to
      – DISABLE it and how to
      – DISCOVER
      HRV recording status for this model without factory reset?

      Is there any app for this? I think it should be a menu item or service menu item.

    • Tim Grose

      There is no native support for this.
      However link to firstbeat.com describes a way to do so with similar Garmin devices. Assume this works with the 735 as well.

    • marcus

      Confirmation from Firstbeat:
      Thank you for contacting Firstbeat Support.
      Yes, the new Garmin 735xt works with Athlete. You only need to set the device to record R-R data like with the 620. Instructions for this set-up can be found from Athlete FAQ here: link to firstbeat.com

  44. Jiri

    Bad experience with SLEEP tracking

    One day I had some sleep disorder and now the reports are completely mad and do not reflect the real. Settings are 22:00-6:00 and reports of my sleep are about the time I am siting at my desk about noon, although I slept well in predicted time or similar. If the watch will not have some sleep mode, and also the mobile app or the web will not allow to correct these nonsenses, I will have to completely ingnore that metrics and screens and to use some custom acitivity as a sleep.

    I think the watch should have some sleep acitivity trigered automatically but with possibility to correct in a watch or at least on the web or in the mobile app.

    I know there is edit function in mobile app, but it does not help as records are mad and there is not simple editable table with chronological FROM_DATE_TIME_to_DATE_TIME sleep. I am not willing to fight with some graphically nice but practically unusable interface which forces me its will and cannot fix records which are someway shifted and mixed.

    Some advices how to edit, or fix such situation?

  45. Jiri

    WATCH faces

    Only one watch face can be selected as active and any change needs deep menu diving.
    I think it there should be at least two or three to set as active with possibility to determine order as in widgets.
    E.g. Hands, Digital simple and Comprehensive face.

    Also when activity is recorded, the selected face is ignored and the only simple original digital is used.
    Is here F3 any better?

    • Tim Grose

      Not hard to change – from the clock page, hold down up arrow then Clock Options, Watch Face
      You can download several watch faces if you want to change them regularly.

    • Jiri

      Hi Tim, thanks for info, but it is harder:

      1/ Long press of Up
      2/ Down
      3/ Enter
      4/ Enter
      5/ Manual select the desired Face from list
      6/ Enter
      7/ Back
      8/ Back

      Wouldnt it be better to have an option to have selected Watchface as another widget (secondary/and third face) just after the primary watch face after simple pressing
      1/ DOWN ???
      and have it ? It is just mattter of way how firmware handle faces. Maybe the watch faces can be available also in widget form to allow be displayed that way. Maybe just face/widget developers can do that without any firmware change.

      I do not complain, I offer a way how this device could be better.

  46. Jiri

    735xt MEMORY CAPACITY reported:

    10 MB in total in mass storage (as disk)
    * basic system files occupies 1,2 MB, ie result can be 8,8 MB free.

    Language files are in folder TEXT and they occupy 2,5 MB, but they can be deleted.
    You can keep there just file for your or some few langs (so only these will
    be offered in menu). Or delete them all and have english only.
    (It can save 2,5 MB for you)

    512 Kb / 16 slots in total for apps, widgets, facs, user fields
    (embedded are not counted – they do not consume capacity)

    HOW about FENIX 3 /F3HR ?
    What is total storage internal disk and what are system files
    and lang files – it means how much memory can be available
    for English only without any records?

    I will really appreciate any such info.

  47. Peter Felix

    The Oreo on the wrist trick – utterly priceless.

    I charge you going forward Ray to either find food stuffs that you can compare gadgets to – that or that The Girl makes cake versions of them all.

    Made my laugh (in a nice way) – thank you!

    Peter

  48. Navin

    Great review Ray.

  49. Kendra

    Can I set an alarm on this watch to wake me in the morning? (Similar to fenix 3)?

  50. Steve

    Is there a firework, as soon as daily step goal is reached?

  51. Frank

    Ray, great review. I am still on the sidelines on whether I should purchase this watch but I will be making a decision sooner than later. Just one short suggestion, do you think in the future you could keep the same color for the reviewed watch in the heart rate graphs? in this case the FR735 switches between purple and cyan.

    By the way, are there any Chinese GPS watches worth a review? Seeing how Chinese manufacturers seem to be overtaking the smartphone market, I would think a competitor to Garmin and Suunto would have already appeared.

    • Yeah, the colors are auto-generated. But I’ll work with the developer to see if there’s possibly an option to have those colors ‘sticky’ for a given device. It’s a good suggestion.

      I haven’t seen much in the way of endurance sport specific units from China (obviously plenty of more general wearables). The closest you’d get would be Bryton, which is Taiwan based. They make OK hardware, but horrible software. I did a review in the past on one or two units, but nobody saw any interest, so I’ve kinda stopped bothering.

  52. JoshR

    Has anyone had problems with it not finding a power meter in triathlon mode? I have used it bike mode no problem and the watch always connected to my P1 pedals. But in a trip today, it wasn’t reading power during the bike. It wasn’t anything with the PM, because my edge picked it up fine.

  53. Tim Grose

    Re elevation, don’t think am seeing any particular issues here. I took out a 630 and a 735 tonight (so both with GPS only for elevation) on a fairly hilly 9 mile route and although the elevation is “noisy” (see link to analyze.dcrainmaker.com ) fairly clear to me that this was from the same run and can’t see one or the other is any better. Anyway GPS elevation data is always “noisy” isn’t it – you certainly can’t compute grade from it but does generally give you a vague idea – not that knowing my exact elevation in real time has ever been a requirement of mine in over 30 years of running and cycling training and racing. Also aren’t your elevation comparisons mainly with devices with barometric altimeters so no particular surprise that those ones are smoother?

    • ekutter

      I agree. Elevation noise on a flat run is expected with GPS elevation, but do you really care in those conditions? Too bad Garmin doesn’t do some simple filtering to smooth it out like they used to in the 310 days. But which one is closer after a 3000′ climb? That is where I care about elevation in real time and have found GPS to be more reliable. Running around Paris, would you really care about the displayed elevation?

    • Paul S.

      Barometric, probably. It’s also the only one that can tell you it’s a 3000′ climb rather than a 4000′ climb (GPS will overestimate because it’s so noisy).

    • Suunto’s GPS based elevation seems to be much better though. I’ll load up some tests I did two summer’s ago with one of their GPS based elevation units – really smooth.

      As I somewhat hinted at it in the post, it really comes down to whether or not one cares about it all though. Personally, for my running here – I don’t actually care at all. But, if I go ride in the alps, then I do very much care because I’d know the tops of each climbs from a elevation standpoint, and want to know much more suckage I have to endure. To each their own.

  54. Andrea

    If I want to log a walk as an activity, am I correct that my options to log are run or hike? Is there really no walk option or am I just missing it?

    • Jiri

      Directly on the735xt you can create your own activity as copy of something existing (consider existing activities as a templates) and name it whatever you want (e.g. RelaxWalks) and to edit its settings to fully reflect what you need.
      Menu>Settings>Activity Profiles>+AddNew>Select template activity, set color, use or change name, choose if GPS, Edit Settings/Done (all can be changed, but the template icon, as far as I know).
      Maybe there is some another possibility from the GC web or GCMobile app.

    • Tim Grose

      Use this Connect IQ app if you want to do a walk and get it logged in GC as a walk without changing anything.
      link to apps.garmin.com

    • I did this on my Fenix 2, but naming the activity “Walk” doesn’t mean it gets tagged as a walk in the FIT file, not sure if newer watches handle that any better.
      It boggles my mind that Garmin can’t/won’t add a Walk activity profile to these watches.

    • Andrea

      Thanks for the suggestions. I have created a custom activity, but it logs as “other”. I’ll take a look at the app.

  55. Scott Gibson

    Thanks for the great writeup Ray! When you mentioned that using the Varia Vision with the 735 for running makes you seasick, it sounds like it is pretty much unacceptable for this use case. Is that correct? Is this due to the HUD bouncing up and down, or some other visibility issue, or just its weight on the glasses? Thanks so much.

    • There’s two main reasons I found it annoying:

      A) Far too much bounce with the pod, so it’s like trying to read on a roller coaster. Sure, you can do it – and, within that realm it kinda works. I can see things. But as someone who virtually never gets motion sickness, this was driving me crazy.

      B) The added weight my sunglasses left a bit of a mark and felt odd/heavy. Perhaps if I ran with it every day, I’d get used to it.

      Plus…

      C) Everyone looked at me like I was an alien. With a bike however, the helmet kinda blends in, so you don’t really notice it as much.

    • I have used the varia vision with the 925 while running and its not bad. I attached the vv to the glasses with tape and got a better connection than the connector that they provide you. Its actually pretty useful to have HUD data while running so you don’t have to look at your wrist to see how you are doing

  56. Aravind Immaneni

    Thanks for a great review! I waited for this watch and didn’t switch from 910xt to 920xt to get a more full purpose all day wearable + Tri watch.
    One question… How do you select ‘other’ sports.. I don’t have anything but the swim bike and run sports loaded on the watch. It is also not clear how the connect iq apps download on to the watch and how you select the apps/features like data screens. If you covered it some where else, can you please point me there?

    Thanks,
    Aravind.

    • Tim Grose

      For “other” sports you setup a new activity profile – Settings, Activity Profiles, Add New

      For Connect IQ data fields, select the data screen you want to use, hold down up arrow, then Edit Data Fields then on the field you want to use, hit Enter then select the Connect IQ section.

    • Aravind Immaneni

      Thanks TIm!

    • Aravind Immaneni

      I downloaded several Connect IQ datafileds (actually it is a screen that has 7 different fields) but it is not visible when go into edit data fields and select Connect IQ section. Only ones that show up are what were pre loaded. My watch syncs with the phone app so not sure why the Connect IQ datafields or screens are not showing up.

    • Tim Grose

      For those ones, you probably first want to setup the data field page you want to use to only have 1 field (and not 2, 3 or 4). Try Garmin Connect with a computer to download Connect IQ things if the mobile app is not doing it for you.

  57. Fredrik

    Looks like I´ll be saving my money for the Suunto Spartan. Can´t justify any of the upgrades to switch from my 920XT

  58. Dr Matt

    Quick note to others for pool swim triathlons–make sure you create another triathlon profile with pool swim instead of open water, then go to the regular pool swim activity settings and set the pool length.

  59. “I could be sitting with a HR showing below the RHR value, which should be an impossibility. ”

    Garmin & Garmin Connect seem to be perpetually math-challenged.
    I still get swim data from my Fenix 2 claiming a maximum stroke rate below the average stroke rate, and calorie data sent to HealthKit is off by a factor of 1000 – no amount of bug-reporting seems to help.

    • Tim Grose

      > “I could be sitting with a HR showing below the RHR value, which should be an impossibility. ”

      Not necessarily. Kind of depends how exactly RHR is defined. At present it seems to be some sort of average when it thinks you are “at rest” (so typically when asleep) rather than a simple “low” value. I often see that as 30 – the lowest it goes but is clearly wrong but perhaps illustrates the need to try and “average” the RHR values.

  60. Stuart

    Nice. I’m now starting to think seriously about upgrading from my 910XT; about the only things I can think of to hold me back are battery life (I may want to do a full iron distance race in the next few years, and I’d rather not have to upgrade just because of that) and maybe – _maybe_ – the barometric pressure thing (for tracking stairs, mostly.) I’ll have a closer look at the Noosa multisports festival – knowing my luck, Garmin will have come out with the 930XT/935XT, and my concerns will be sorted.

    On which note, even barometric pressure is not completely perfect. I did the bike leg at Challenge Shepparton in 2014. According to my 910XT, the elevation when I finished was 23 metres lower than when I started. Did somebody break out an excavator during those three and a half hours, and nobody noticed? (Yes, yes, I know the prosaic explanation. Let me have my fun, okay?)

    Anyway, I need to pop out for a bit. For some reason, I have this weird urge to eat a few Oreos…

    • Stuart

      Oh, I’ll also note that, at the moment, the pricing for the 735XT in Australia (where I live) _on its own_, without any heart rate straps, is more than the 920XT in a tri bundle. So there’s that, as well. Sigh. So many toys, so little money…

  61. steve

    It would be helpful to add the 910XT back in the product comparison chart so those of us with older models can see what we’re “missing” and if it is worth it to get the new model.

    • Gunnar

      Just go to the “Product Comparison Tool” on Ray’s main page and you can compare any product Ray has reviewed over the years.

  62. Andrew

    Hi Ray, I currently have a 620 for running. For running I’m perfectly happy with it and it still works. However I am getting a power pod power meter and will need a device that can record power for cycling. although it sounds cool to try a triathalon down the road I dont see in happening in the near future (1-2 years)….at best maybe a duathalon… That being said would you recommend buying a 735xt or simply buying an edge 520?

  63. Ryan Bakewell

    Thanks!

    I just purchased my 735XT + Run HRM bundle through Clever with your 10% discount code. Your review made the decision for me that this is the watch for me, so using Clever to buy it with the discount was a perfect win.

    Thanks again,
    Ryan

  64. maxfrance

    You’re the coolest reviewer of the whole tech world !

    The Oreo comparison is by far the most effective way to increase both Oreo’s and Garmin’s market share

  65. matth

    Anyone managed to pair their 735xt with Di2 shifters? when I try to pair mine, the watch can’t seem to find the Di2 sensor and tells me to try again.

    Someone else over on the garmin forum has this same issue, a recommended fix was to unplug the Di2 battery and try pairing again. Tried that, it didn’t work…..

  66. Andrea

    I got my 735XT on Saturday and I’m loving it so far. Something strange happened when I logged strength training this morning though. Even though the GPS is off, it appears to have been active and the activity has been assigned a distance. When it got transferred to Strava, it got logged as a run. Does anyone have any ideas on what settings I need to change to make sure my strength training isn’t logging distance?

  67. TheLordBS

    The big question is, if there will be a sucessor to the FR920XT? Or is the 735XT the sucessor?

    Do I need to worry about battery live, if I plan to do a half-distance triathlon? (e.g. Ironman 70.3)

    • TheLordBS

      Ray, do you belive that there will be an update of the FR920XT in the near future? Or is the 735xt the direct (unoffical?) sucessor the FR920XT? (Like Edge 620 is the sucessor of Edge 810)

  68. Noel Tavan

    DC Rainmaker, can you confirm that you can charge the watch while it is running for ultra events or 14+hours events? Obviously, I know that you woudlnt be able to use the optical heart rate monitor. I think it would be great to add a row to your comparison table for this option. It is very important for ultra runners.

    • Yes, you can use it plugged in (charge while in an activity).

      I agree, it’s a good item to add to the tables.

    • Noel Tavan

      Thanks, Also how quickly you can charge it would be nice to have in the table. Has garmin come up with Fast Charging similar to what newer phones have? In an ultra, I could take a 30-60min break/nap and it would be nice if that was enough to fully charge the watch.

  69. Joe E

    735XT + Varia Vision = No need for Quick Connect for bike in Tri. Problem solved.

  70. Cindy M.

    Hi Ray
    Just to confirm, if I have the 735 in triathlon mode or cycling mode it will not transmit HR data to my Edge 520?
    Thanks again for another detailed review. A friend of mine just got this watch and I was shocked how light it was compared to my 920 so I may still buy this watch just for that, the smaller size and not having to wear a HR monitor all of the time.
    Thanks
    Cindy

  71. Shannon

    Does the battery life increase if you do not use the optical HR sensor instead using a HR strap?

  72. Mark

    Sorry if I missed this somewhere in the discussion. But does the 735 connect to trainer road. I know you can’t use it to show HR but should I still be able to have 735 on and do a trainer road workout and get it on garmin connect or no?

    • Eric B

      I use trainerroad and download the file to my computer hard drive and then upload that file into my activities in GC. Works for me as I want to see the power as I only use a VA and that did not show it. Now I don’t bother with my VA at all when using TR.

  73. Christian

    Hi DCR,

    you mentioned EmFit QS, is there a review in work?

  74. municheast

    I’m pretty happy with my 735XT. Thanks for the article.

    Specific question:
    I’m doing 10x400m or 7×1000 m workouts in a track and field stadium (400m track).
    Due to GPS inaccuracy in the curves the watch measures one round as 380 m.
    So all my times, records and VO2max values are wrong and I cannot use my created workouts.

    Do you have a smart solution for me to get the most out of the 735XT on the 400 m track?

    Thanks!

    • Tim Grose

      On the track, mine has been better than that for distance. I did an 800m race last night and the distance was more or less spot on. It’s been similar in longer races too. I find you must wear the watch on your left wrist on the track. You don’t typically get VO2 Max changes from track intervals as you usually aren’t running continuously for long enough. As regards track intervals, I do rather take a “low-tech” approach and just take manual laps at the start and end of each one. Certainly in 400m reps I only bother to check my lap split. If however you want to see accurate pace in longer ones and don’t want to rely on just glancing at the timer say every 200m then a foot pod might help as you can get pace from it on a 735 while still using GPS.

  75. municheast

    My pool is sometimes crowded and I have to make the turns over water or cannot push off with maximum power.
    In these cases the 735XT won’t identify my turns correctly 1-2 times per workout.
    So instead of e.g. 1:40m/100m it detects some crap.

    Do you have some tips for me to increase the accuracy?

    Btw. I’m swimming in an outside 50m pool. I’m sad that Garmin did not implement that the 735XT uses GPS to detect my turns (and speed) at a higher accuracy.

    • My pool is often very crowded as well (15-20 people per lane), what I do is that if I know I’ll be blocked from a flip turn at the end of the lane, I’ll turn around early (i.e. 1m early) and do it in a swift movement (rather than a slow stand-up, turn around, etc..). The other thing is that if you pass someone mid-lane, try and make the pass more gradual, rather than a short sprint around them and then slowing down again. I know it’s harder to do in real-life that way, but it can assist.

      You wouldn’t want to use GPS in a pool (even outdoors), the accuracy simply isn’t there.

  76. Patrick

    Any way we can get a comparison between the vivoactive HR and a Fig Newton? I vote for food comparisons on more reviews in the future :)

  77. Angie

    My 910XT died a couple of weeks ago, and I’m considering the upgrade. Can you add a picture of the 735XT on The Girl’s wrist? I have pretty small wrists and have tried on the Fenix3 in the store before and it felt and looked enormous.

  78. Jeremy

    Oreo comparison cracked me up.

    I just wished optical HR was as good as the scorche, I would upgrade. Until Garmin improves the accuracy of HR, holding on to my 920xt with scorche optical HR which is bullet proof!

  79. Adelle

    Hi Ray

    Can the FR735XT be charged using an apple USB wall adapter or car charger ?

  80. meto

    Hi Ray
    Did you test the 735 with the Powertap P1 peddles? I am wondering if setting the crank length is one of the power meter setup options.

  81. Adam

    as for Quirk no2 (which also applies to FR23x series and probably lots of new garmins), You can access ‘data pages’ menu only if Your activity is running. But if You pause the activity (which in scenarios You describe should not be that big of a problem) and scroll down, You will get to ‘activity settings’ where You can pretty much do whatever You like, including of course auto-lap activation/deactivation.

    Initially I did not know that and was equally annoyed. But now since I found it, it’s pretty ok to me.

  82. tmr1980

    Q’s:
    -Is there a way to set an Open Water Swim alert in metre’s rather than yards??
    -Also, watch doesn’t always sync with phone after a run or swim so I have to manually force upload and sometimes my calender etc seems to go offline even though my phone is within range with bluetooth on??

    • Yes, if you’re settings are for metric, it’ll be in yards.

      The second one sounds like an issue with your phone connectivity. Not entirely unheard of.

    • tmr1980

      My setting are set to metric but appears that i cant change the alert to metres only yards.

      Any advice on what i can change in iphone 5 device settings to resolve (appreciate this is probably outside your remit)

  83. Miles Beach

    Anyone else who owns one of these having issues with Stages PM signal drops? I’ve read that the 920XT also has this issue but wondering if it is just an anomaly with my 735XT or an ongoing issue. Really messes up the data accuracy. Glad my Edge 1000 connection to the Stages is rock solid but I am concerned that when racing a TRI that it will be difficult to merge the data into the multisport FIT file at the end of the race.

    • Tim Grose

      Ray’s first “bug” and this thread link to forums.garmin.com alludes to possible reconnection issues when doing a triathlon but that might be any power meter. This one link to forums.garmin.com is perhaps more relevant.

    • Miles

      Thank you. I was already aware of those threads. I have done several cycling rides and the 735XT consistently drops the Stages. Connection to my Edge 1000 is rock solid however. Guess I will have to merge the power data from the Edge 1000 into the multi-sport fit file of the 735 XT, prior to uploading it to GC.

  84. Excellent review, well done again. May I quote you:

    > Now I mentioned another multisport option. In this case you can start any activity (not multisport) and
    > do that activity as you normally would. For example, start a run session. Then, simply hold down the lower
    > left button to transition to change sports to any of your pre-defined sports.
    This is the workaround/feature I was looking for. Ist this also possible for other Garmin devices, like Fenix3 or 920xt?

    And another one: When navigating, do I see a track/breadcrumb trail when I uploaded it with my fit file? Like I have on my 910xt?
    When I do workouts in new terrains (e.g. holidays), I usually digitize my run and bike workouts prior to that (viking), upload them, and follow the breadcrumb trail.

  85. Ray,
    For me and maybe others, the most useful multisport option for this watch would be as follows:

    Outdoor swim > Transition > BROADCAST HR DATA TO MY 520 > Transition > Run

    It would be great if it would also record my bike while still broadcasting the HR data but this would not be a deal breaker.

    Do you know if this is available / supported?

    Thanks!

  86. samuel tiago

    Another great review ! Question, what heart rate reader is better garmin 235 or this new 735xt ? I read the review you hear updates and improvements to the 735 but they also reached the 235 ? I’m just running but want the best heart reading device ! Hear significant improvement in the reader’s 735 xt ? Thank you, from my English is not good , sorry , I am Brazilian but always accompany your blog ! It’s great!

  87. Michael

    Thanks Ray! I’m in the market for a new running watch and was eagerly awaiting this review before pulling the trigger. My absolute number one priority is accurate GPS and pace data. It seems that all GPS watches have problems that are especially noticeable in the form of cut corners that put you in a body of water or off the road. From your the maps, the 735XT doesn’t seem different. Does any one watch standout as being even slightly better in this regard? I’m especially interested in knowing if the is any difference in the GPS accuracy between the Garmin 920XT, the Fenix3 HR and the 735XT. How about the Instant Pace feature? Thanks again!

    • 735 is part of new line with more memory 920 and fenix 3 is part of old line. See this table link to developer.garmin.com probably some new watches will be released to support new SDK and features

    • Tim Grose

      I note Ray says “there’s just not GPS accuracy issues that I’m seeing in the routes I’ve run”. I would confirm that statement for me. I’ve also got a 920 and have not had any significant problems with that device either. Don’t know about a Fenix 3 from personal experience but there plenty of “comment” on that on the Garmin forums. Of course with “GPS accuracy” there is always a reality check as to what you can really expect from a consumer GPS device. “Cut corners” are often just an artifact of the resolution that a track is displayed at (Garmin Connect does not show every recorded point for instance) and if you are “off the road” but still say within 20m of your actual point that is not bad but within expectation. Current pace in conjunction with lap pace both from GPS I find fulfills my needs well enough for pace information on these watches. The 735 also allows you use a foot pod and have pace from that but still record distance and the track itself from GPS. A calibrated foot pod can help with pace information – especially in challenging areas for GPS like under trees in forests, in city centres and on running tracks although on running tracks the distance recorded by my 735 has been pretty good. That said I never bother to use one myself except on a treadmill.

    • Michael

      Thanks Tim. I’m referring to the kind of tracks you see in link to analyze.dcrainmaker.com. You’ll notice, not only the cut corners going onto Pont de Cully, but the large shift to the SE along the bridge, putting Ray in the water for the whole span. I normally run with an app on my Galaxy S4 and it’s typically close to 4 meter in accuracy and almost never worse than 10 meters. I never have trouble telling which side of the street I ran on. But with these watches, that doesn’t seem to be the case. However, since Garmin finally started supporting using the foot pod for the pace while the GPS remains on for the distance, I decided it’s time to get one. So now I’m trying to get the watch whose GPS is the least bad. Garmin told me the GPS chipset is the same in all three watches but I’ve also read that the Fenix 3 has a better antenna design. Has anyone notice an real difference in the GPS accuracy of any of these watches?

    • I thought it was interesting on that particular route that I had two FR735XT’s with me. One was exactly on the bridge, and the other was offset a couple meters off the bridge.

    • Michael

      Yes Ray, I notice the two FR735XT’s. One skews to the SE and the other, a little further along the bridge, skews to the NW. I suspect that some of these types of tracks may be the result of software attempts of making the best from a few poor samples. Also, have you done any experimenting to see if these watches interfere at all with each other? Do you ever run with only one on an arm and have you noticed any difference? With all the comparative experience you have with these devices, is there any one device that seems particularly better in terms of GPS accuracy or are current models all basically the same (being better at times and worse at others)? I’m a runner and care most about GPS accuracy and pace accuracy (I’ll get a foot pod for that if necessary.) I’m undecided between the 920XT, Fenix 3 HR and the 735XT. Does either have even a slight accuracy edge of the other?

    • Tim Grose

      From personal experience over very many runs and reading other reports, I could not pick one device of those that is always better nor one you should definitely avoid. I tend to now prefer the 735 as is so much lighter. I used it in a 5000 track race today and hard to find fault with the track link to strava.com – why you could just about tell I spent the whole race in lane 1 ! I’ve not had the same consistent 4m accuracy with my iPhone but do tend to keep that in my back pocket (so there my Garmins almost always do better) not run along carrying it which of course is the advantage of a watch.

    • When running with optical HR sensor watches, I only put on one per wrist. The others I’ll either hand-carry or put on a CamelBak. I separate them so they don’t reduce satellite visibility (i.e. placing next to each other). And the reason I don’t put more than one optical HR sensor device on a wrist is that can impact things and cause issues for one or more devices.

  88. JB

    So lighter than Fenix3 will most features except Hiking mode – that allows you to trackback?

    Would there be an app for that then?

    I just got the Fenix3 and definitely know it’s there. but for the features and battery life and fact I do lots of hiking, I went this route!

    • Tim Grose

      Back to Start (an as the crow flies arrow) in conjunction with looking at the map breadcrumb map of where you went on the way out ought to work fairly well for most purposes but there is not a native “trackback” in terms of exactly following the outward route. If that is a primary requirement for you then think you have made the right choice with a dedicated “outdoor” device like the Fenix 3.

  89. Mark Kapitan

    I just placed a case with Garmin but have you tried doing any of the HR based training plan workouts on the 735xt, specifically interval ones? Pretty sure its a software glitch but the device will not read any HR during these sessions and just shows a static number. My assumption would be that the device is looking for a heart rate strap for those workouts, although I haven’t heard complaints from 235 users either?

  90. Albin

    Hi,

    does it support more than one alarm (ie you canset different alarms on the vivoactive hr: mo, 8am, tue 7am, wed-fri 6.30am)? This doesn’t work with the 235 or 930xt.

    Thanks,
    Albin

  91. Craig

    Hi Ray.

    Just womdegot If anyone has any quality issues with the backlight on the 735XT?

    For a high end watch, the light shines a ‘spotlight’ from the bottom of the screen up towards the top. My 620 has a perfect backlight which shines up the whole screen evenly.

    • Mine seems reasonably even to me. I believe I heard one other person that saw a backlight oddity like that, and the person called support and they swapped out the unit for one without issues.

    • Tim Grose

      The backlight on the 230/235/630 and the 735 all look like this so your one does not seem any different. As Ray notes the backlight “greatness” is “Good” not “Great” but I’ve found it perfectly adequate in poor light which of course is the point of it. I understand it is largely a trade off in battery power consumption rates.

    • andrejs

      I’ve also found that the backlight distribution and brightness is quite terrible. Compared to the Ambit 3 Peak, I can barely see anything on it with no way to adjust the brightness. It’s as if this was the first iteration of a backlight ever! Quite disappointed about that, but the light weight of the unit is very nice. Also, the screen is excellent in bright outdoor light, no issues there.

    • Anuj Karkare

      Hey Craig,

      Any update on this? Did you manage to get it exchanged? Is it any better?

      I have a similar ‘spotlight’ kind of illumination.

      And the screen is pretty horrible since I’m coming from a Microsoft Band 2.

      Maybe I’m just being over-critical or my screen is a bit faulty.

  92. Roberto

    Well, if this is not the best review about 735 out there. Thanks!

    I would like to mention something about the HR accuracy when training indoor. Ive been doing spinning for 2 weeks and it looks like sweat can interfere with the reader – During 1 hour rides I realised that my HR briefly increased when doing 2 minutes strong rides, standing in the bike and coming back to the original position.

    Have any of you experienced the same?

    Thanks a lot,

  93. Martin Balo

    Hi, First of all Thank you for taking your time to write this amazin reviews.

    I am thinking about buying my first running gps watch. I am true beginner. Are the features like Vo2MAx, lactate treshold test and advanced running dynamics worth the price difference between the 235 and the 735 *with the Hr-Run?

    Thank you.

  94. Craig

    Great watch and good functionality. Garmin drink tell dropped the ball with the backlight though. Allegedly this is the way it was designed.

  95. Mira E

    “Quirk: You can’t broadcast your HR while in an activity. This limits being able to use the function, especially with trainer apps (where the optical HR sensor actually works fairly well).”

    so we cant scroll to see the HR during the activity?

    • Tim Grose

      In HR broadcast mode, it displays a screen showing your HR and the time of day. So you can “see” it but the 735 itself won’t be recording it. Any devices you broadcast to (i.e. those that you pair to the 735’s virtual HR strap) can of course.

  96. jb

    How many saved locations are possible?

    And are these saved locations all visible on the breadcrumbs navigation trail?

  97. Jay

    Hey Ray,

    When you were testing the optical HR monitor on this watch and other Garmin watches, did you ever test wearing the watch on the inside of the wrist, instead of the outside like one typically would?

    • Ryan M.

      Jay,

      I forget which watch it was where Ray mentioned this (I think the 235), but he said some people had better accuracy on the inside of their wrist.

      I definitely find better accuracy with the HR on the underside (I believe that I have been mistaken for a sasquatch in some documentaries, so the tops of my arms don’t have a clear line of sight), but I think the GPS takes a bit of a hit on accuracy (anecdotally, so I haven’t done extensive testing) on the underside.

    • I believe I wore it once or twice on the inside of the wrist. As Ryan noted, some (many?) will find slightly better accuracy on the inside of the wrist.

  98. Carmen

    Hi DC Rainmaker

    Thanks for a great blog really helpful! One question, I’d like to know more about how to set up live tracking assuming it works to allow my supporters to keep track of where I am on the course? How do I set it up for myself and said supporters?

    thanks for the blog
    Carmen

    • You’ll do it within the Garmin Connect Mobile app, where you can select how it sends out those notifications (i.e. e-mail/Twitter). For people you know personally, I just set up e-mail alerts. Whereas if sending out to a public list, I find Twitter is best.

  99. Paula

    Can you view the history of VO2 Max? I’ve found your blog so informative and thorough, thanks!

  100. tony

    Great article. Just using my Forerunner 735XT for 2 days. It is a great product.
    Broadcast of the heartrate to the edge510 works fine, but then you loose all your watch features, and the other device receiving the broadcast (Edge 510) is the master device. Good enough for me.

    However, Garmin connect doesnt write my calories/workouts in the native IPhone activity app. So I have 0 workouts with as a consequence my other apps reading those calories are useless.
    Also the sleep activity tracking sometimes is not uploaded into the standard Healt app; Once it said “sleep” which was ok, the other time just “in bed”, with no graph, etc…

    • TR

      > However, Garmin connect doesnt write my calories/workouts in the native IPhone activity app.

      I remember last year when I had the iPhone, that it was quite often a requirement to open the certain app/activity for data to be written to Health (at least it was so with Strava). But it’s also possible that they broke something with updating the Garmin app (wouldn’t be the first time). I honestly stopped bothering with Apple Health, because while it seemed interesting, there’s no real value from it, just a locked silo, so I paid more attention to GC.

    • tony

      thanks, I agree I have to let go the Health app; all is ok in the GC app
      Strange though It worked again for 1 day and then it stopped again

    • Christopher Souser

      Can you use the Garmin Edge to broadcast to
      the 735xt to save battery life on the watch?

  101. Raymond Martinez

    I just purchased the 735xt and for $499 it is so cheaply made. It is all plastic and the glass is also plastic. It is not any way rugged like the Fenix products.

    • Have you broken the plastic?

    • Raymond Martinez

      No. I just received the device, but it looks as that device might easily break.

      Raymond.

    • Miles

      I own one and for me, it is not about it being plastic or not. It’s about the fact that it is so light weight which the Fenix products are not. In addition, I can tell you that it will not easily break unless you are abusive to it. It’s no less durable than the the 910 or 920XT or any of the other Forerunner products. If you want something more substantial, perhaps you should have compared it to the Fenix products prior to purchase.

    • Yeah, I’d agree that it’s super-tough to break a unit unless you do something really bad. And by ‘really bad’, I mean that your wrist would be attached to the thing, so ‘bad thing’ would also likely impact your wrist.

      I can’t remember seeing anyone complain about unit housing breakage on the FR230/235/630 (which came out last fall), which the FR735XT is based upon.

    • Damian

      My 230 cracked wiping the screen. I had it since it came out. I must say I was surprise when it happened.

    • Kevin Law

      Damian,

      It almost looks like there is something inside giving it an outward push, may be the battery is bloated? I think there is definitely something very wrong going on and you should send it for a check up/replacement

  102. Robert

    Hello, thanks for the review. Excellent as always. I’m using Suunto Ambit 2 for 3 years now and want to change to a more running/cycling focused device (and a smaller one). The Ambit is ok with some its limits (one of those is connection with Strava where the data just doesn’t match in between ones measured by watch and stored on Movescount and those trasfered to Strava; thought it works fine with TrainingPeaks). I’m not really swimming that much, mostly running and for the past 2 years increasing the time on bike. I’m looking for more statistics and better integration with Strava, maybe optical heart rate monitor, plus bluetooth connection to mobile – more easy data transfer. What you would see as a more appropriate device from Garmin 235, Garmin 630, or even 735XT (but I’m not planning to do triathlon). I considered 735XT but the point about only GPS altitude measurement is a big (-) for me. Is there a comparable Polar device or rather go to Suunto Ambit 3? Please let me know what you think.

    Regards, Robert

  103. Josh

    Thank you so much for such an in-depth writeup…and yet as a first time triathlon watch buyer (just did my first last month), I’m still absolutely torn.

    It seems like the MAJOR sticking point is the barometric altimeter, but as you mention, most software will correct for this (does that include Garmin Connect?). And the ability to mount it to the bike.

    Price points aren’t that different as far as I can find them ($400 for the 920xt and $450 for the 735xt).

    Anyone have strong feelings/advice for a newb*?

    *I’ve owned the Forerunner 620 for years as a marathon runner and LOVE it.

    • With the FR620, it’s the same non-barometric altimeter data. So if you enjoyed that, then honestly you’ll probably not notice the elevation data in the FR735XT being wonky.

      I’ve continued leaving the unit on my wrist since the review (the one I bought), which, I very rarely do actually. So, I think for most of what I do from a running standpoint I’m so-so-OK with the during-activity elevation since I don’t really use it.

      However, when I was running in Utah mountains last week, I was bummed to see how far off the elevation data was compared to a FR920XT I had on me at the same time (which perfectly matched elevation trail markers, astoundingly). Luckily, Paris running is pretty flat here.

    • Josh

      Thanks man – really appreciate the quick response!

      I’m here in SF, so hills abound :) However, I’m not 100% sure I need it DURING the race/runs…just might be nice post-analysis. Do you think it’s been a “dealbreaker” with how inaccurate it’s been?

      As for keeping the 735 on your writs while biking – how distracting is that? Would you prefer it on your bike? How easy is it to see it from your wrist?

      Again – I know you get a ton of questions so I really, really appreciate your help here :)

    • For post-analysis, there’s no concern at all, since all sites override the data with (mostly) good data.

      For me cycling, I’m just not a wrist kinda guy. I want it front and center. But, you could just plop it on a standard Garmin bike mount (like this: link to amzn.to) and be good. Albeit, without optical HR.

    • Miles

      If you own a Stages PM putting it on the handlebars is the only way to get accurate power data. I reported an issue I was having with dropouts while wearing it on my wrist to Stages. They directed me to this support document on their site: link to support.stagescycling.com. Once I mounted the watch on the handlebars the dropouts were reduced significantly. This is not unique to the 735XT. Personally, I will rely on my Edge 1000 during cycling.

  104. Hi Ray!

    Does the addition of GLONASS have any positive impact on the accuracy of position (and hence distance and pace) while swimming in open water? I know there is still only a fraction of a second to pick up a signal each time the watch comes out of the water, but perhaps with more possible signals to pick up, the accuracy is better than e.g. the 910XT which only uses GPS?

    • Raymond

      Laurens,

      I have not enabled GLONASS as of yet, and I never swim in open water.

      Ray

    • Thank you Raymond, but I meant to ask the question to Ray Maker (DC Rainmaker) ;) Thanks anyway :)

    • It may help, or it may not (I usually leave it on).

      GLONASS makes more satellites available, it doesn’t actually increase accuracy directly. But in this case, it could make more available to the unit which if you just need one more – than that might definitely make a difference.

  105. Fabio Pires

    Hi Ray,

    I was intending to buy this watch to replace my 910XT,
    Just found that I can’t have the 10% discount at CT. Instead I would earn 50 CT points, or something like that.
    What can I do with theese points? I can’t have an answer from CT folks.

    Thx

    • Karl

      The points can be used for payment for a future purchase.

    • Yup, virtually immediately afterwards you can apply the 10% points (plus the points for merely signing up) to another purchase. For example, you could buy a cadence sensor with it, or, anything else. The point on the FR735XT purchase would roughly be in the ballpark of a cadence sensor (again, an example).

  106. Steve

    Sensational Review Ray.
    I held off to buy the 735 till you loaded your full review although your initial ‘hands on’ review was equally impressive, thank you.
    I seriously love this watch, it makes me run, swim and cycle faster just by wearing it!!
    The only thing I can’t figure out is that I can’t get swim workouts to show in the ‘My Workouts’ on the watch. The workouts show in Garmin Connect online and on the phone but not on the watch.
    The swim workouts also seem to often be awol in the swim calender too (awol on the watch only).
    Actually when downloading a Garmin tri training program the swim workouts only come across as notes, not workouts… and Garmin don’t do swim PR’s either… is swimming the poor cousin?

    Still a great swimming watch and excellent at everything else.

    Any clues how to fix or work around the ‘my workouts’ issue?

    Thanks again from New Zealand!

    • Did you select to ‘Send to device’ after creating the swim workout? And then sync the watch (either via computer or phone)?

    • Steve

      Thanks Ray
      I have tried syncing via phone, plugged watch into laptop and sync’d. Restarted watch. Set up new running cycling and swim workouts. Only the run and cycle menus come up under the workouts tab and I have checked in those and none are swims?
      At the moment the swim workouts are coming through in the training calender which will work for me so no major stress.

    • Adrien David

      I have a question for those of you who had time to use the watch: Garmin people assured me there was an auto-pause I can use in-pool, but DC Rainmaker tells in his comparison charts, that there is not? I just bought this watch and I want to know if I’m going to be disappointed?

    • It doesn’t auto-pause an interval on the watch (unless you press to do so), but it will show the paused timeline online on Garmin Connect. I’ve clarified the comparison charts a bit so hopefully that helps.

    • Roger Hughes

      No auto pause as Ray says above.

      But if you upload training workouts which you can prepare on Garmin connect and you have defined rest periods after your intervals, the watch will auto count down the pre-determined rest before beeping and telling you start the next set. You have to push the lap button after each interval but the watch also vibrates when you are on your last length of the interval so you don’t have to count the laps.

  107. Lee Bourgoin

    I would really love this Tri Watch as a replacement for my FR910!
    This watch is really good looking, could also use it to wear all day :)

  108. Nina

    Do you think that Polar will bring out something similar or its the new one to buy? #inthemaret #dcrainmaker #bestadvice

    • I wouldn’t expect that. The software gap is just too massive right now. I think from a hardware standpoint they could, but the software side has 10-20x more (albeit smaller) features than Polar has. Those realistically will take years to catch up – based on Polar’s current software release cycles.

    • Ray

      Nina,

      I came from a Polar V800, and I’m currently training for the Chicago Marathon. I’m currently not using the swimming features (and hope I won’t in October), or the biking features (though Ray’s review makes me want to look into Varia’s options), but this watch runs rings (pardon the pun) around Polar. Buy it and don’t look back.

      Ray

  109. Josh

    Ray,
    It seems our paths missed each other by about a day or two as I arrived in Snowbird upon your departure from SLC. Great town, and the scenery is quite amazing in the Wasatch mountains as I’m sure you’ll agree. I have a question regarding the 735. I noticed during my workouts in my hotel, specifically during my body weight exercises such as push ups and TRX work, that the OHRM would display values during my rest cycles quite different than manually taking my pulse. In some cases it was out quite far, but in others it was somewhat close. My question is if one is taking a pulse for 10 seconds and multiplying by 6 to get BPM, how does this accuracy compare to what a 735 would be displaying during rest cycles? For during activity use such as running or biking, I would only trust the chest strap. But I was to understand the accuracy of RHR and rest cycle accuracy a bit better. Thanks.

    • Ahh bummer – so close! Next time!

      TRX and similar workouts where you put a lot of pressure on your wrist can be tricky for optical wrist sensors, since the pressure differences are massive there. There isn’t really a good answer at this time, some units handle it better than others.

      For RHR, you can generally use that method.

    • Lars Ejaas

      I use my 735XT while doing TRX at home – HR is always quite low (below 100) so not sure how much use HR is here? I mainly do this for convenience – it is an easy way to track/register my training – can’t really see why you would find heart rate data useful for gym/strength work?

    • Josh

      Thanks for the response Ray, sorry just getting around to seeing that reply. Lars, the desire to see HR while doing strength work is to see recovery times between sets. The data is not so much useful as it is the geek factor. However, my 735 proved worthless for tracking HR during strength work, and then randomly a couple weeks later it took my RHR all the way down to 30-35 one evening. At that point I returned it and went back to the 230 and the RHYTHM+. I am hopeful POLAR or SUUNTO will provide us with that reliable OHRM and GPS all in one solution shortly. Until then, I feel like we are stuck in the days of having to have a palm pilot, a separate digital camera, and a separate cell phone.

  110. Mike

    Iv had this watch 4days now and I love it! Just the right size for me, soft strap, I barely notice it’s on!

    A question on Edge integration especially intensity minutes and HR data… It seems as though any ride data I have from the the edge unit is an after thought, just an activity with no data integration. Calories merge but all the other data is kept separate.

    Am I missing something or can’t garmin connect merge the data?

    • Mike

      I obviously read the ‘add picture’ bit wrong too :/

    • Indeed, no downwards calorie/etc data into the watches via GC from other watches of their own. It’s a big gap on the Garmin front, and something they say they plan to address/fix by the end of the year.

      It’s especially noticible in exactly the scenario you describe where as a cyclist you have (another) Garmin device, but then otherwise you use a wearable device for the rest of the day.

    • Mike

      This is huge for me, really hope this is high up on their ‘to do’ list.

      Did a test ride today with an activity started on the 735XT and Edge 500 (still my favourite edge device) running simultaneously, worked ok but still don’t really want the watch on when I’m cycling.

      So for anyone interested… It created two activity files one from the 735XT and one on the edge. I can deal with that, Starva didn’t like it but thats not the end of the world. Calories didn’t duplicate, distance and time did which is slightly annoying.

      The watch is showing the correct calories, only as a result of their being an activity saved on it, not as a result of any Edge data. I now get my HR graph on ‘Timeline’ on the garmin connect app and credit for the intensity minuets.
      Had I not been wearing the 735XT and used only the edge with HR strap none of this would have appeared :(

      This could be a killer combination if they can get them working better together. Cant complain about any activity tracking, running or swimming all work nicely.

      A little sidenote/question I couldn’t find my stages power meter at all on the 735XT am i missing something? Also does it have the capability of recording power on two units (735XT and Edge) simultaneously?

    • I would place the watch closer to the Stages during the power sensor search. It’ll definitely connect (I’m running a Stages right now on one bike, no issues finding it).

      I do find the FR735XT can be a tiny bit more sensitive on initial pairing and seems to require getting slightly closer. No idea why.

    • Mike

      Thanks Ray,

      Worked fine, did a stages update at the same time don’t know if that had any impact. When you say close it really is close, the initial pairing needed to be within 30mm for me. Working fine from distance now though :D

      Great job on everything too btw! Don’t think I buy anything geeky without coming here first now!!

    • I just received my unit yesterday, and did a short cycle trip. I am also using a stages powermeter:

      1) Pairing was no problem before firmwareupdate of 735xt
      2) After that:
      a) My stages was not listed any more inside the 735xt
      b) I had to switch of bluetooth on my watch and my mobile (in other words I put my mobile android phone far away…) .
      c) get pretty close towards the stages

      3) I definitly have massive signal dropouts, when I wear the clock on the right side (opposite of the stages crank).

      4) I also have dropouts, when I put my hands away from the handlebar (e.g. close my jacket).

      5) Plus: I am not sure wether there might also a stages problem. I have the “new” stages pod design + latest firmware and still powerdraining (I am giving the battery 500km / normal temperature. This is already the second Stages crank I own. I am not sure wether quality e.g. in signal emitting is equally the same over all Stages…

  111. Eelke

    Hi Ray,

    I have a question. I have the new Forerunner 735XT and went trail running today with someone who has a Fenix 3. The guy is a professional trail runner so he depends on his altitude meter in the Fenix 3. We went running on his home trail and after the run he recorded 119m altitude. When I uploaded my run it showed 59m altitude. When I disable the elevation correction on Garmin Connect it shows 117m altitude, which is almost the same as the 119m from the Fenix 3. We know for sure the 119m is pretty accurate for our run. How come Strava and Garmin Connect correct the ‘wrong’ number 117m (which is actually right) to the ‘right’ number 59m (which is wrong for sure? Any idea?

    Thanks in advance

    • It’s tricky. When elevation is corrected afterwards it uses data that’s captured from satellites by pointing radar at earth from a satellite and then capturing the reflection. It works well in most situations, but things like trees can be tricky (or cliffs). So if you were 5-meters to the right along a cliff, it could be a huge difference (simplistic example).

      GPS elevation on the device is equally kinda wonky. The one thing to look at is if you toggle on/off that switch on Garmin Connect – how close the elevation actually is on the raw data. Or is it (more likely) simply a case of averages working out, even if it’s wrong 100% of the time.

  112. Andrea

    I’ve had my 735XT for a few weeks now and I’m really happy with it. I have been using it to track cycling, hiking, strength training and general activity. I only have a point of comparison for cycling (705 and 500) and I find it is performing well, but only short rides less than 100 km so far. I have ordered the handlebar mount for my commuter and road bikes, but I was wondering if anyone has come up with any options to use a K-EDGE mount? I use an XL on our tandem extended back towards me since there isn’t a lot of space between my bars and the captain’s saddle. Anything mounted to the bars runs the risk of at least an occasional bump if he shifts around a bit or shifts back when trying to get aero down a hill.

  113. Robert

    Ray, how big is really the difference in betwenn GPS and Barometric Altitude /GPS and Magnetic Compass. I’m using Ambit 2 for couple of years now (one of the early adopters) for all my activties. Quite happy with it but a bit bulky and due to the fact that I’m spending more time on bike as well as would like to improve my running looking for something more up-to-date statistics and integration with iPhone/Strava. Suunto’s snychronization with Strava is pretty problematic. At the same time I’m usually running on hills/forest and also biking up and down hills – usally 200-300 altitude change. Robert

    • I’ve found it pretty substantial on the FR735XT. I’ve got some pics from my Park City trip showing a FR920XT altimeter vs a FR735XT GPS altimeter, vs a sign-post on the trail. The FR920XT & Sign-post matched within 1ft. The FR735XT was some 200ft+ off.

    • Stefanus

      Hi Ray

      The reason for the 735XT not having a barometric altimeter – is this purely down to size of the watch? If so, I don’t believe there will be anything in the next 5 years (?) before we see a watch the size of the 735XT but with a barometric altimeter?

      In my opinion, this watch is the best way to go for someone wanting the combination of
      – optical HR (for running purposes and tracking HR daily)
      – use as everyday watch (since it is small and not ugly..lol – loved the oreo size comparison!)
      – has the required sensors/metres for biking
      – when wanting more accurate HR during biking, willing to put on a HR strap (and then can mount the watch on the bike for easy viewing)
      – if not interested in altitude mid-activity (since Garmin connect will sort that out afterwards for you)
      – not willing to wait for technology to pick up

      Or am I missing a product that would do all this, but better or at reduced price? :)

    • It’s just some random design decision they made. The Vivoactive HR has a barometric altimeter, and it’s about in the same package.

    • Stefanus

      Thanks for the reply, really appreciate it! Turns out it wasn’t the best decision given the amount of attention the GPS altimeter is getting. Quite a pity.

  114. Anuj Karkare

    Hey Ray, does Garmin plan to release new bands for this watch like the Fenix 3? Like a metal band or a rubber band. Would make it a bit more universal and customizable to use..

  115. Martin

    Hi Ray,
    I have always been a huge polar fan, but it is time for me to replace my RX800. I am not nearly as serious about training as you are, but I do my odd triathlon etc.

    I had a look at the V800 special edition, love the way it looks/feels and obviously it is a huge step-up from what I have. But reading your comments and keeping in mind that I am going to spend $450, what would you recommend to a person like me?

    Everyone keeps on saying it, but thank you for awesome/trustworthy reviews!!

    Kind regards,
    Martin

    • I just received my 735xt today. I own a Garmin 910xt and a Polar 720i. I did not try anything yet, but it is so light weighted and small compared to the other watches. It is sized just like a normal watch, but far not as heavy. This is a great plus, when trying to take off your wetsuit and for swimming.

      Only downside is, that I cannot press lapbutton (like on Polar devices) to get a laptime. When pressing “Lap” it will go right to the next workout step. On my Polar device, a short press on the red button did a lap marker, and a long press stopped current workout step and continous with the next one.

      regards gerograph

  116. Peter

    HI,
    Super review.
    I am mainly going to use this watch for cycling. I just wanted to know whether this will link with the new SRAM etap and show the gears on the watch?

  117. Eric Guinard

    Probably not an easy question but I live on Japan and, as for all Garmin product, it’s called here a ForeAthlete (not a ForeRunner) 735XT. I’m hesitating to buy it here (price in JPY is quite good) as I’m not sure there is a language option to turn it into English ? Anyone who has done it on other Garmin watches, I’d be happy to know !
    Thanks ! Eric

  118. Stephan

    Does the optical HR monitor automatically search and pick up heart rate when you exit the water in a triathlon? (I don’t really care about HR on the swim) Or would it require starting a new activity.

  119. Mitz

    Hi can this watch show gradient or is this dependent on an altimeter?

  120. Rich Chin

    Currently I own a Garmin Swim, FR630 and Edge 1000. I feel like a Garmin junkie. I just finished my first OD Tri this past weekend and I think I am hooked. After reading this review, I feel even more compelled to buy it right away and sign up for my next TRI!

    For the event this past weekend, basically, I manually entered the swim leg from the official race results, and used Edge 1000 for the bike leg and the FR630 for the run leg.

    Can you confirm that if the FR735 were used instead, it could have seamlessly recorded all 3 legs, including the transitions?

    Also, additional questions:
    – will the TRI-HRM be able to record the HR for all 3 legs, as well as all of the advanced running dynamics? What is the difference between the SWIM-HRM and TRI-HRM? Do I need both?
    – I currently use the Garmin Cadence sensor and a Powertap Hub power meter (thanks for a great review on that one as well). Will the FR735 be able to record data from both of these? What will happen to my Edge 1000? What do yo recommend that I can do to use both?
    – will all 3 legs be able to be auto uploaded to Training Peaks and Strava? What happens if you add the transitions? Will it also be uploaded as a run or workout? So on Strava will a TRI be recorded as 5 separate activities (swim-T1-bike-T2-run)?

    SO pending your advice I feel like I am teeter-tottering on either staying with my current setup or springing for the FR735 and selling my FR630.

    Thanks.
    Rich

    • RE: Seamless recording of all three legs

      Yup, no problem there. I believe I linked to my Paris/Versailles Triathlons in the post, to show how it looks.

      RE: HRM-TRI Recording

      Yes. Main difference is HRM-SWIM is designed for pool usage and doesn’t have running dynamics.

      RE: Garmin Cadence & PT hub

      Works great with those.

      RE: Uploading to Strava/TP

      Yes, it uploads to those, and will split apart the activity into multiple workouts.

      Thanks for the support!

    • Rich Chin

      thanks for the reply.

      just 2 more follow up questions:
      – Since the FR735 works with both the cadence and PT Hub, is it possible to be running both the FR735 and the Edge 1000 at the same time during a race (watch for data recording and Edge for ease of viewing during the ride)? Is there anything that one or the other will be able to track while the other cannot? I can only think of the barometric altimeter. Is there anything else?

      – in essence does this mean that the FR735 can replace both my FR630 and Garmin Swim (and at some level, my Edge 1000, too)? I would keep the Edge though.

      You’re welcome on the support. You deserve it.

    • kevin

      You won’t miss anything as all your signals are ANT+. Both 735XT and edge will record and show the information seperately.

    • Lynn

      Any issues with uploading 735XT multisport files to TrainingPeaks? I cannot get TP to recognize multisport FIT files (even though they come through Strava just fine). Is there a TP trick I’m missing?

    • Stuart

      That’s strange, Lynn. I’m using Training Peaks with my coach, and it recognises multisport files just fine – it splits them into five workouts (swim, T1, bike, T2, run), just as Strava does. (And it handles the swim HR data just fine – it’s only in the pool that Training Peaks can’t handle it.)

      The only thing I can think of is that I’m using TP Premium; that _may_ be the difference (but it shouldn’t be.)

    • Lynn

      Yes, I’m a Premium TrainingPeaks member. Working with their tech services to figure it out, but so far nothing. I cannot get TP to recognize mutlisport FIT files of any kind, only recognizes single-sport files. I even tried using fitfiletools to break it apart but TP still comes back “null” or “can’t parse file”. This has happened on every mutlisport FIT file I’ve tried to upload to TP.

    • Lynn

      I found the culprit! I was using a ConnectIQ App called “hrTSS” that recorded data from my runs. Deleting this app from the 735XT now allows multisport FIT files to be parsed correctly in TP. Fair warning to those trying to use the ConnectIQ “hrTSS” App!

    • Eli

      Its not hrTSS’s fault. TP doesn’t handle the new FIT 2.x file format correctly which is how the file can save the extra data from the hrTSS app. Though WKO just added support the beginning of the month

  121. Adelle

    Am I correct in thinking there is no auto pause feature in open water swim mode. I used it today on a group OW swim and we usually stop a couple of times to regroup and it included those stops in my swim time.

  122. Andrea

    I’ve been using the Strength Training activity profile and sometimes it appears to activate the GPS and record a distance and this funny scribble of a track. It doesn’t happen all the time and I have checked that the GPS is off for that activity profile. Has anyone else had this happen?

  123. STAGES Compatibility
    —————————————-

    I confirm, that “as triathlon watch”, this watch is NOT compatible with a Stages Powermeter. As mentioned on various places during this discussion, there are dropouts during ANT+ transmission:

    I am wearing the device on my left wrist, as soon as I go into “aero position”, the signal get’s lost. This should not happen on a triathlon watch. I donnot want to place it on my handlebar after swimming….plus there is no quick release kit or similiar. => practically seen useless!!!!

    However, Garmin stated on their german hotline: “We did not do any testing on that setup, therefor forerunner 735xt doesn’t even show up on http://www.thisisant.com compatibility list.

    Optical Heart Rate
    ——————————-
    When doing higher heart rates (e.g. intervalls), heartrate is delayed by 20-30sec. Depending on the intervall length, I get my maximum hearth rate to late… I do have to admit, that I have quiet “hairy” skin. The hearth rate strap is far better, I donnot mind using that one instead.

    Regards gerograph

    • It’s really more of a Stages problem at this point – since it mostly only impacts Stages power meters for people in aero positions.

      As for the FR735XT on Thisisant.com certification – typically you’ll see that it’ll take a few months for it to show up. But that would be the easiest test for them to pass (I could probably take a unit out right now and run it through the certification test suite).

      The failure for the Stages/head unit combos appears to be Stages reduced broadcasting. My guess is you’d see the same thing on a FR920XT, Fenix3, etc… Some people have had luck with switching wrists or changing positions, but there’s honestly not a lot you can do there.

    • Is there something like an ANT+ repeater?
      And however….nevertheless for that amount of money one could expect a watch which at least work with the main manufactures in the market.

    • Miles

      Its actually an issue with a wrist located multi-sport watches and Stages. From Stages: link to support.stagescycling.com. I mounted mine on the handlebars for a ride and the dropouts were significantly reduced.

    • @miles
      works better on the handelbar, but thats not what you want during a triathlon….

    • Miles

      Wholeheartedly agree. The point being that Stages is acknowledging the issue and it is not a FR735XT issue but a Stages one. Confirmed by placing the watch on the handlebars.

    • Agree, at this point it’s pretty clearly a Stages low-transmission problem. Every other power meter on earth works virtually flawlessly (less some 3-4 year older Quarq’s before they upped the transmission power).

      I really don’t understand why Stages hasn’t done the same.

    • Once again the question:

      Is there an ANT+ repeater or can you rebroadcast the ant+ powerdata from a handlebar located device into the forerunner wrist located watch? That might be a solution….

    • I’m not aware of any repeaters unfortunately.

    • Thanx for the infos, Ray. However, doing some testing I found out, that my FR910xt and my mobile (bluetooth and ANT+) got the same problem. I didn’t show up before, because I used the FR910 only as cyclecomputer, mounted on the handlebar. Plus the 910xt had a quick release kit.

      Guess we need at least a quick release kit for FR735xt, in order to use and record proper data during a triathlon. Or better ant+ transmitting Stages…

      I’ll report back. Thanx for your support
      regards gerograph

  124. Shannon

    Any updates on how to extend Battery life? Does the battery life increase if you do not use the optical HR sensor instead using a HR strap?

    • Yup, it would help substantially.

    • Heleen

      Should you really “turn the optialHR off” somewhere, or is it automatically switched off when using the HRM strap? And i read that you advised to turn Glonass off to save battery life as well. However, i can’t find this anywhere on my watch. Can you tell me where to find it??

      Thanks a lot in advance!

    • Heleen

      Just a short update on the 735xt: i did (my first) Full ironman distance last sunday with the watch and it worked perfectly! This is how i did it:
      1. Before the start i mounted the Garmin on my bike, since i don’t need it on the swim and it only bothers me when taking the wetsuit off.
      2. I did not use the multisport mode since i wanted to take laps while cycling and this is not possible in multisport mode (unless pre-planned). So i activated cycling mode and just before the cycling part ended i took the watch from the mount and placed it on my wrist. In transition i activated running mode. I used the HRM-run strap and used normal gps settings (so disabled glonass but did not use the ultratrac setting. During the bike i had eat-warnings Every 30mins and durong the run i used autolap Every km. Total time was 11h25min And i got 1 low battery warning in the last 10km but the battery even lasted the whole evening, since we stayed until the last finishers party.

      I can definately recommand this watch!!!

  125. David Wright

    Hi Ray

    I used the 735 for Ironman UK on Sunday and it survived my 15.25 finish. Low battery warning coming at mile 25.
    I did have alerts on the bike every 10 minutes to drink (which i forgot to turn off).
    I used your advice about Ultratrac for the run, and whilst it worked I found it difficult finding usefl information while i was running (could be because it was a multilap course) and only showed at the end of the run that i had done 12.42 miles of the run.
    So it works for 15+ hours and I am intending on getting faster not slower so pleased with the Watch
    Dave

  126. Jeff

    How did it do using the indoor running feature in terms of tracking distance accurately? With or without footpod? Looking to use it on my treadmill runs too for heart rate and distance. Thanks!

  127. Jesper fog

    Great review (as always!)
    I have one issue: I have my watch in auto lap mode. When I do a preconfigured training from Garmin connect training (intervals) it doesn’t automatically shot the auto lap feature off as the 920xt would do, meaning that I cannot see if I have followed my intervals as planned. Any input on how to fix this issue ?

  128. Adam

    Great review DCR, thank you.

    My question – will the regular watch function alarm wake me up (and not my wife) using a “vibration alert”, for my early morning starts?

    Thank you.

    • Mike Webb

      Works for me, really like waking up with the vibrate only. Much gentler than an audio alarm. Doesn’t wake the gf apart from one morning when it was right by her ear, she had a bit of a surprise… Oops ;)

  129. STAGES
    ————————

    Stages send me a brandnew powermeter on thursday. However, wearing the 735xt on my wrist still caused dropouts. So the german support tries to find a solution, but is not willing, or cannot make the ANT+ signal better. I also tried with my 910xt on my wrist + Bluetooth Mobile on my left upper arm, and I had the same transmission problem as well. So, as everyone else suggested, no solution from stages…a quick release kit is therefore the only option I can hope for.

    Anybody knows if a quick release kit from any other garmin watch might fit (sort of), for now, it would be o.k. if it covers the optical heart rate.??

  130. Marek P

    Ray
    few questions :)
    i want this watch for my wife (as i have my Polar m400 – thanks to your review and am still happy with it even though it has its limitations – mostly swimming autolap count for me)
    she does not do triathlon, but does all 3 parts separately just for fun(amateur level), but she wants swimming tracking that m400 of fr235 lacks
    she’d like to have a HR monitor (to be sure her RHR is ok – taking into account the drawbacks of HR measurements freq.)
    I don’t want her to buy V800 as i have polar and know the whole history about last year and software issues :) and A360 does not have GPS(and is not planned to pair with 3rd party GPSes AFAIK :( )
    watch has to be a day-to-day watch
    Does Garmin provide auto training features like Polar does (I like that Flow finally opened automated training planner)
    so if not 735XT then what? :)

  131. dudek

    thax for the great review (as usual)
    My question is in regards to 735xt Indor exercises with HRM-Tri

    I was expecting that in ‘Indor Bike’ i still would get cadence/distance (somehow) and maybe some other info.
    All I get is heart rate / time and the rest I put in manually in Connect which I need to remember readings from bike displays.
    Not to mention that Indor I would expect GPS to turned off automatically.

    Am I expecting too much ???? or Im I missing some configs ?

  132. Jon Baker

    I love my 735XT. The structured swim workouts are great. I have run into one issue though. The watch records swim strokes as steps. I reported this as a bug to garmin. They verified that the watch records swim strokes as steps and told me that the watch was intended to function that way. When i responded that recording swim strokes as steps completely undermines the ability to track steps if you swim often i was told to report this as an idea for a future update.

    Tracking swim strokes as steps seems crazy to me…

    • Marek P.

      As I’m a Polar user and have no access to GC – are those swim/bike/run structured tests somehow predefined or auto calculated or should I create them by myself?

  133. Nigel Van de Velde

    My device failed during the first swim. I received it last Thursday, did a run yesterday and a swim this morning. During the first lengths of the swim the screen went black and became totally unresponsive.

    Bad first experience. Optical heart rate during the first 2 days was rather random/useless as well. Anyone else experienced a similar issue?

    Kind regards!

  134. Andria

    Hi, I just bought this watch and I can customize the watch for other workouts such as zumba,piloxing,jumba.
    Besides that I also do indoor run(treadmill). My problem here is the distance/pace doesn’t worked properly with my time of running. Where does it go wrong?

  135. Sumit Singla

    Great review! I am a relatively new runner and I just ordered Forerunner 630. I have a couple of questions, hopefully you can help me out here. After reading couple 735xt reviews, I am on the fence again between 630 and 735xt. Currently I am focused on cadence, and GCT which really narrowed me down to these two watches (due to advanced running dynamics). My original choice was 235, do you see Garmin enabling advanced running dynamics for that watch through firmware upgrade anytime soon? If not, between 630 and 735xt, does the price jump justify the increased battery time and wrist HR monitor? I am currently focused on running, but will eventually get into biking and swimming. In that case, would you recommend that I go for 735xt right now?

    Also, does 630 and 735xt still need the foot pod to calculate cadence? I thought the watch has the ability to calculate it using arm movement in conjunction with the HRM band (not sure how that helps in calculating cadence, but I know Garmin requires it for advanced running dynamic).

    Finally I see there is European version of 630 (010-03717-30) and a US version (010-03717-10). I asked in a forum what is the difference and was told that basically it’s the same watch but the wall plug is different. Looks like there is not wall plug included in the unit, just USB, so do you happen to know what is the real difference between the two?

    Thank you in advance!

    • John Perretti

      The 735xt is a multi-sport watch. From what I see in your post you are getting the running (welcome!), so 630 would be a great choice. But if you are considering add swim and bike to your training in the future, you should seriously consider a multi sport watch and the 735XT would be a nice choice. I got mine about a month ago and have been very satisfied with the performance. I do lot’s of treadmill running due to the summer heat in Texas (with 105F it’s impossible to perform an enjoyable run) and so far it has been very accurate without the foot pod. In other words, you don’t need to spend money on a foot pod, save that money for a HRM band if you want to get to the running dynamics, as you will need it. Not sure what you mean with wall plug, but I don’t see any issue with charging the device, if that’s what you meant.

    • Andria

      Hi, I need to know how do you set your watch for indoor run? Is it 735xt? I Just bought 735xt and I do my indoor run(treadmill) and it doesn’t accurate my distance/pace with my time.

    • Michael Swann

      It takes a few outdoor runs with GPS to get to know your stride length,

  136. Rene

    Anyone know how well illuminated is this watch? I run when it’s still dark outside, and need a watch that lights up well, and is legibly under low light conditions….any suggestions? This one, or the Fenix 3??

    • Anuj Karkare

      The backlight is pretty bad I would say. I have no idea about the Fenix 3 – never used it. But I come from the Microsoft Band 2. The screen of the Band is amazing and compared to that the 735XT is pretty bad.

      Outdoors, it is very very good. But indoors and poor lighting, it sucks. The backlight is like a spotlight from below and looks horrendous. I’ve gotten used to it now after using it for a month. TBH I don’t use it much when I’m indoors, or in low lighting. It is perfectly legible in the backlight, but not the best.

  137. Matthew Wong

    Do anyone face a problem on using Garmin 235 or Garmin 765XT with Heart Rate is up with pacing very fast, it cannot coming down low even low pacing, walking ?

  138. Mark

    they sell it bundled on website with chest strap HR monitors.

    Any reason if it has optical already to purchase that?

    • Marek P.

      Yes
      Advanced Dynamics are calculated only with use of a chest one
      And if you swim and check HR then tri-HRM is required

  139. Nick

    Would you wait for the 920 update of go with the 735X?

  140. Jubi

    Hey Ray…..you said that the 735xt cannot broadcast ant+ data while recording an activity. But can i pair one Ant+ cadence/speed sensor with 2 devices at the same time? Like the 735xt and edge 25? Im trying to use the edge as a display unit on the bike leg of a tri race since there is no quick release kit. Thanks.

  141. Miklos

    It is an excellent review, I will spend some more time on that. There is one thing I could not find, but must be a no-brainer: how to configure the data menus? I can access them, but could not change the number of fields, etc. – it is just not obvious which button to press.

  142. Stuart

    Got my 735XT today (upgrading from the 910XT). Looks good.

    I’m just wondering – is there any way to get the sleep data out without using Garmin Connect? I don’t particularly need an account there, and I’d strongly prefer to not sign up if I can avoid it. If not, then so be it; I’ll just keep estimating my sleep hours. But it’d be nice to be able to accurately track how long I’m sleeping for (as well as how long it takes me to fall asleep.)

  143. Pablo Gonzalez

    Hi Ray,

    Do you know if Garmin Connect has a problem? I can’t sign in after a few day with my iphone 6. I updated everything and I still can’t log in.
    Also, I had a 910xt and now a 735xt with a vector S in the bike. Everytime before starting the bike, the 910 calibrated Vector, but now with the 735 it doesn’t automatically. I have to calibrate it manually every time before a ride?

    Thanks!

  144. Fabio Pires

    Hi Ray and folks,

    Just got my watch from CT.
    Im running the newest version of firmware, 4.20.
    I can’t install almost (99%) of the apps, watch faces or data fields avaiable on Connect IQ.
    It shows a message saying that I have to update the watch software via Garmin Express.

    Very disapointed with it.

    Any idea?

    Thxxx

  145. Fabio Pires

    So folks and Ray, I have a few questions. Lets see if we can solve them.

    1) If while Im running I decide (this could be planned too) to stay at a specific cadence using the help of the metronome. But for the rest of the run I wont use it. So, I just need this for part of my run. What are the options? Turn it on and off on the go? Seems complicated at first.

    2) This one is easier, I think. How I disable the GPS on the bike part of a IM to save battery? (I’ll be using an Edge for this). In fact, just wanna know the easiest way to save battery while on the bike.

    3) Why I cant install a ton of faces/data fields with some 6,5mb of free space avaiable. Garmin Express keep saying not enough space. Is there a limit in quantity to it?

    4) On ConnectIQ Data Fields, it says 1/3. This means I can use, like, 3 data fields from IQ using just one page?

    That will be all.
    As always the case.
    Thx for everything.

    Cheers

    • Fabio Pires

      1) Solved. Just mute the Metronome page.
      2) Solved. Created two profiles. First one to Ride on the trainer, with GPS off. Second, a new multisport mode called IM, using this “trainner profile”.

      3) In fact that is a limit to installed things. Just dont know why.

      4) Still trying to figure it out.

  146. Roger

    Hi Ray, since doing an update on my 735xt (current version is 4.30), my last two swim workouts have shown up as “invalid”.

    The watch definitely recorded the distance and time. The first workout was just a plain 1500mtr pool swim & when I finished, the watch downloaded the stored HR data from the HRM but then the “Garmin” screen came on and the workout wasn’t saved.

    The second one (today) was a 1000mtr pool swim but from a workout created on Garmin Connect being 250mtr warm up, 10 x 50mtr free-style drills with 15 sec rest and 250mtr cool down.

    Again, the watch functioned perfectly in the water during the workout recording each phase, downloaded stored HR data but then jumped again the the “Garmin” screen and gave an “Invalid” (see picture).

    The watch records perfectly well on both bike and run settings.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks/Roger

    • gijom

      Hello, I got this bug with 3.30 . I was hoping this was fixed in 4.20/4.30 .

    • Roger

      Today it worked fine – I deleted all history on the watch and then went for my swim. No problems at all and all recorded without issue. Very odd.

      Cheers

    • Mark

      Yeah i get exactly the same… ok so i have to delete all activities to fix.

    • Roger

      Unfortunately the problem re-occurred today. Did a short swim in a smaller length pool, changed settings, didn’t wear HRM. Watch recorded dutifully, told me there was no HR data at end and did I want to save without that so I clicked “yes”, it seemed to be fine but now shows up again as “invalid”…

      What a complete pain in the arse.

      Still no reply from those geniuses at Garmin.

    • Vlad

      I had a very similar problem. Did my first triathlon this weekend and the watch crashed at the end…

      After reaching the finish line, I have stopped the workout. The watch said looking for stored HR data (I assume for the swim part) and then crashed. It did not save any of the event details, I have no workout for the swim/bike/run. It now displays an activity named “Invalid” that is recorded as a swim, with a time of 0:00:00 and a distance of 0m.

      I think that it is clearly a software bug. Everything worked well during the triathlon. But at some point, I think the HRM has slipped, disconnected and then reconnected. I think this caused the crash. No previous issue on recording HR data from individual workouts (swim/bike/run), but updated the software the day before the race. All software is up to date, running now version 4.3 (d68dc64).

      Extremely disappointing!

    • Scott

      I have experienced the same issue, I believe. I just purchased the garmin 735xt and took it in the pool for its first swim this morning and set it up for a 25 meter pool and recorded my 1500 swim. During the swim it was running and recording the swim and distance without any issues. At the end it wanted to search for a hrm data; but since I didn’t wear a hrm strap I said to not search and to save the data without the hrm data. I then went for a quick short run and when I got to work I look on Garmin connect on my phone and only the run appears to have loaded and on my 735xt history is states “Invalid” “0:00.00 0m” for today swim.

      I send a message to garmin help but wanted to know if anyone else has a suggestion or was able to resolve this issue. Thanks!!

    • Chris

      I don’t have the 735xt yet but am planning on getting it and will be swimming too so am curious about this. I wonder what would happen if you click “yes” when it asked to search for HRM data, even if you didn’t wear a HRM strap? Would it say “HRM not found”… but still record your distance etc somehow? May worth a try since right now no data is saved anyway?

    • Roger

      Indeed, it says HRM not found “search again” – eventually you have to choose the option to save with HR data so it doesn’t really make any difference I’m afraid.

      Clearly a bug affecting a number of people which Garmin need to fix which hopefully will be quicker than their response time over at troubleshooting!

    • Chris

      Ah. I hope enough people contact them about this so they can fix it – or even just to acknowledge it’s a problem instead of giving no response…

  147. Cedric

    Excellent review as always — thank you! I have the 735xt for a few days now and it worked great for my first 3 runs, but something odd happened today. While on an easy steady run (target HR ~ 135) optical HR as measured by the unit crept up linearily and then stayed at exactly 158 the entire run (1hr+).

    See graph below. the only “drops” are when I took the watch off, or changed hands (left/right) or position above/at wrists. tried everythign while on the run, nothing worked.

    I am quite familiar with required positions and my wrist worked well with 3 other HR bands. This seems like a software not hardware issue no? HR would drop very very slowly (stayed at 158 for 30 seconds+) even when taking the watch off completely. See graph and let me know if you think I have a defective unit? Should I send it back or do others have seen this occur??

  148. Cedric

    Excellent review as always — thank you! I have the 735xt for a few days now and it worked great for my first 3 runs, but something odd happened today. While on an easy steady run (target HR ~ 135) optical HR as measured by the unit crept up linearily and then stayed at exactly 158 the entire run (1hr+).

    The only “drops” are when I took the watch off, or changed hands (left/right) or position above/at wrists. tried everythign while on the run, nothing worked.

    I am quite familiar with required positions and my wrist worked well with 3 other HR bands. This seems like a software not hardware issue no? HR would drop very very slowly (stayed at 158 for 30 seconds+) even when taking the watch off completely. See graph and let me know if you think I have a defective unit? Should I send it back or do others have seen this occur??

    • Cedric

      Another example on a steady easy run.

      for a good while the HR is normal then just JUMPS straight up to the 180s while I was just shuffling around.

      Anyone else experiencing these issues??? It was okay under 4.30 but I think firmware 4.40 made it worse? Some days it works normal, some other days like that are horrendous, even if they start perfect.

      Any help greatly appreciated! If I have a defective device let me know. That’s what I think b/c no one else seems to be having issues…

  149. tomaek

    hi ray, are you planning to add a section on strava live segements in this review or a separate blog post about it? i saw your youtube video on this but think these are easily missed (somebody provided the link to it in the the garmin forum).

  150. Chris

    Great review!
    If I buy the 735xt in the US, and travel to other countries that use 220v instead, do I need a USB wall plug-in converter to charge it (if I don’t have access to any USB devices and must use a wall outlet)? Or is USB wall plug-in adapter sufficient?

  151. Another question:

    I want to do bike-run-bike-run-bike workout (plus warmup and cooldown), can that be done in Garmin Connect? Therefor edit/create a structered workout on garmin connect?

    To me it seems like I can create a strucered workout in garminconnect, but it then doesn’t switch between activity profiles, like in triathlon mode. I Either have to use running profile for biking and running, or biking profile for running as well. As I need my wattage, it seems the run part has to be done with a biking profile as well… as long as I do structured workouts. Is that correct?

  152. Alan Derrick

    Great review as always. I have just bought one as a result. One run done; no problems. So much lighter than my old “laptop on the wrist” 310XT.

    On the issue of optical HR measurement being unavailable whilst swimming, have you tried selecting the run profile and then going for a swim to see how the HR data look in comparison to a Swim/Tri HR strap? Probably not of any practical use to anyone but an interesting experiment all the same.

  153. Paul Furniss

    Ray I assume you need a temp sensor for the temp data field to work on the 735?

  154. I found a suunto ambit 3 peak link to decathlon.it how you compare to 735xt ?

  155. Adi HS

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for your review.
    Is it enable to resume workout later like Fenix 2 have?
    I want to use it for hiking, resuming next day after. Can this device do it?Thanks

  156. Andy

    I wonder if Garmin is past their first batch of produced watches and the potential new ones are of better quality (OHM, GPS, etc.)

  157. tmr1980

    How do I stop any activities being uploaded to my garmin account with exception of health stats like steps etc?

  158. Geoff

    A purchase of a new gps is coming soon. It’s this or the FR630 for me based on advanced running dynamics feature. I was wondering if any other brand offers lactate threshold measurement or if there’s an app available in movescount for an ambit3 that can do the same?

  159. AKH

    Thanks for the review. Very good!.

    I was thinking about “upgrading” my F620 to the 735, but I changed my mind as Garmin does not support a Bluetooth connection to many Microsoft Lumia mobile phones (that goes for the older Nokia Lumias too).

    I think it is pathetic that Garmin cannot implement a standard Bluetooth protocol that just works. Lumias connect with other Bluetooth devices without a problem.

    Another issue is the charging cable. Why is it only half the length of the cable provided with the F620? The short cable is useless for connecting to a stationary PC placed on the floor and having the watch lie on the table for charging.

    Otherwise I think the watch seems to be very good, but for now I’ll pass.

  160. Phillip Lindsay

    Hi,

    Anyone have an update on a quick release strap for the 735xt, Garmin or third party?

    Thanks, Phillip

  161. Alex

    This watch looks perfect for me! I just have a question about using it as an everyday watch. In the photos, the 735 always seems to have basic digital watch faces whilst the fenix 3 often uses an analogue face and looks more classy. Are those faces also available on the 735 somehow?
    P.s the clever training Europe option is great!!

  162. Thomas Dalla

    Thanks for the in-depth review.

    I upgraded from a simple FitBit Charge HR to the Garmin ForeRunner mainly because I wanted a real “multi-sports” watch that also tracks activity and I’m fully satisfied on that side.

    However, there’s one big disappointment: there’s no silent alarm.
    There’s a “vibration only” alarm, but the vibration is so noisy that we cannot call it “silent alarm”.
    This is so noisy that when I’m in the office I’m forced to use the “do not disturb” mode to not annoy my colleagues (luckily there is a DND mode).
    The vibration of the FitBit Charge HR was stronger yet less noisy.
    Not sure if a software update can improve that but I wish so.

    Also, it doesn’t have a barometer so no daily floors count and elevation on activities very approximate, but I knew that before buying so I’m OK with it (just mentioning as a difference with FitBit Charge HR).

    Finally I reported 2 minor bugs in the integration with Strava which I hope will be fixed:
    – it sends the transitions of a multi-sports activity to Strava as “other activity” (useless, should have the option not to send them)
    – the distance for the last activity sent to Strava is wrong: it’s showing the distance of the full multi-sports activity instead of the distance of that last activity alone, so if you bike 5k, run 10k, bike 5k, swim 2k, is synced into Strava as bike 5k, run 10k, bike 5k and swim 22k. I wish it was true though…

  163. Roger

    Hi Ray, sorry to post again but Garmin doesn’t respond despite 2 notifications to their problem solving team. The swim today again turned up as “invalid” – this after recording the full swim accurately throughout and then saving HR data at the end only to flick to the “Garmin” screen and show the swim as invalid…

    It was a simple slow 1500mtr swim in a 50 metre pool.

    I attach the corrupt file in case it’s of any use – please don’t smirk at my swim speed. I actually think I am something of a phenomenon. It’s a wonder of science that I can keep afloat at that speed!

    Cheers
    Roger

    • Mike

      Friend of mine has the same issue. Brand new and fully updated but she gets the “invalid” error message on her swims. Hopefully they get that fixed. I have the Fenix 3 and never had a problem like that so seems to be isolated to the 735XT.

    • Sara

      I just did a half ironman and had the same problem today. When I finished and went to save the activity, it beeped and gave me the Garmin screen and didn’t upload the HR data. And now it shows up as activity “invalid”, but I think the other data is in there as it will give me a map that looks like the full thing. And it won’t sync to my phone now. I’ve recorded other swims and multisport with the watch in the past month or so without a problem. Put in an email to Garmin customer support as I’d really like to salvage whatever data may be in there, forget about the swim HR, that’s not really my priority.

    • Roger

      After deleting all activities from watch, I did a trial triathlon at the weekend, the watch recorded all segments and transitions perfectly.

      Just to be safe, I then deleted all activities again this morning before going for a 1200mtr pool swim – the watch recorded fine in terms of laps / time and after downloading HR data at the end….it showed up as INVALD again!

      Garmin did however get back to me with that old nugget “update your software” (it was) and if that doesn’t work, “Restore Factory Defaults”…. very helpful.

      Anyway, I sent them the FIT files in the hope they might discover something but frankly, this is an irritating bug in what should otherwise be a fantastic device.

      It’s a pity no-one seems to have an answer.

    • Miles

      I know you said that your firmware was updated, but they released firmware version 4.40 yesterday to address this issue. Did you update to that version?

    • Roger

      Hi, I updated to 4.4 after my swim – I didn’t see it before-hand.

      Still to try with the new software.

      However, I am unsure this update has done anything that addresses this issue – when Garmin replied, it was 3 days before the new software release and they didn’t say anything about a new software coming available in a few days time that would fix this issue. They simply said to update to the latest software.

      The bug fixes they refer to in their update also don’t mention fixing swim invalid data:

      link to www8.garmin.com

      Anyway, hopefully I’m wrong – will try again & advise.

    • Miles

      It does address it. If you go to the Garmin forums, there was a beta of this software issued a week before 4.40 was released. Garmin indicated that it addressed this specific issue as well as fixes for Varia. Others reported that the new firmware fixed the invalid file issue after a swim and thus they released it as 4.40. You can read about it here: link to forums.garmin.com

    • Roger

      Many thanks for that Miles, I wasn’t aware & saw now through your link that one user has reported all is well as after the 4.4 update.

      Hopefully that’s the case with me too. I will let you know.

    • Roger

      Confirm all works perfectly fine. I did a trial swim open water Saturday – the watch recorded and saved swim with success.

      I deleted all activities thereafter because I did an OD tri today and again, all worked perfectly.

      Seems the update has fixed the bug. :-)

  164. Francois

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for the fantastic in depth review! I’m really looking to get this watch. In my country they only have the run bundle available. If I’m not concerned with HR while swimming, am I losing out on any other metrics in swimming, running and cycling by just using the run bundle? Also, is the HRM Run water proof? I want to wear it in the triathlon, understanding that I won’t get HR in the water but then hoping it would work while cycling and running?

    Thanks!

  165. Shaun

    Excellent review, Ray – on broadcasting HR I have updated the firmware however still struggle with it – once I have enabled HR Broadcasting, any button I press asks me if I want to exit broadcast mode which means I cannot get to an activity without exiting broadcast mode. What am I missing?

  166. Mike C

    I may be a little dense here but I was hoping to broadcast my HR to some of my indoor training items for recording purposes. I have a wahoo kickr, a proform boston treadmill, and use Trainer Road on iPhone 6. I can not seem to get the watch to become a linked sensor to any of the above. How does everyone link their HR to one of these? (The section about broadcasting HR says “You can then see it on other devices, like an Edge series unit, or perhaps on a trainer app like TrainerRoad:” so I was hoping to be able to get it sync’d up and my HR would then be displayed on TR so I can view and analyze the data at a later time.)

  167. Francois

    Hi guys,

    I see the 735XT does not have 3D distance. So if I go for a training session at my local mountain pass, the average speed and distance is going to be off?

    • To be honest, 3D distance is the least of your concerns with the FR735XT in the mountains. The lack of baro altimeter is more the issue (so bad elevation data mid-run). Afterwards it’s corrected online.

      The thing with 3D distance is that only a handful of devices use it, and the differences are pretty small. I wouldn’t overthink it to be honest.

    • Francois

      Thanks Ray. I’ve read in your review that the altitude is adjusted afterwards online. So the distance is not adjusted as well? I know that even on ‘n 10% gradient the difference is small, I was just wondering.

      Thanks for the great review though, I’m likely to pick this one up. I fitted it in the shops the other day and it fits great with my small wrists. I was in tears with your Oreo comparison though :)

    • No, the distance isn’t adjust afterwards, just elevation.

      Hope you pickup some Oreos too!

  168. Martin

    I am planning to buy a 4iiii precision power meter. I assume it connects ok with the 735, but does it have to be “calibrated/zero out” before every ride? I am not looking for absolute precision. The idea of having to go into the menu settings and drill down every time I ride is not appealing. Thanks

    • I presume: Yes it has. On my stages powermeter output is dependend on the given temperature…therefor it should be calibrated, at least if you haven temperature drops/rises.

      However, you donnot have to go through settings… :-) Once you are inside the activity mode biking,

      JUST PRESS THE DOWN BUTTON a bit longer, and the callibration option turns up straight away…*

      *before you start your bikeride, you have to activate your “bike activity profile” and wait for the powermeter to be connected. Then press “Start” and you will see your screen with predefind datafilds (speed, cadence, power etc…).

    • How strong is the ANT+ Signal from a 4iiii Powermeter? Do you still have a signal, when you wear your 735xt on your wrist in aeroposition? (my stages powermeter has weak transmission – see my post above)

    • Martin

      Thanks for the help. There is very little temp fluctuation where I live and ride(San Diego) so I was hoping it that is the only variable it is being “calibrated” for then I wouldn’t need to worry about it if I was not overly obsessed with the precision of the device. I tried a powerpod and it required so much “fiddling” before every ride or at the beginning of a ride as to be too frustrating to use. It would connect/disconnect, give wildly fluctuating readings, etc. I just want to get on and go with as little fuss as possible. As a bit of a gadget freak already, I have to turn on my varia vision, varia radar and lights, etc. Would like to keep the pre-ride ritual from becoming any more prolonged than it is currently. :)

  169. Trent

    Just got my 735 and really like it so far. Anyone know if you can use garmin connect created workouts while in a multisport mode?

  170. Matthew Cross

    I have just completed my first ride with my 735xt. I also used my edge510.
    Just wondering after the ride, my 735xt says i burnt 2039 calorie where the 510 says 1500….
    which is more accurate?

  171. Ric

    Just ordered a 735.
    Do i also need a screen protector?

    • Mike

      Some say yes, some say no, but I have heard reports of scratched screens. Get the Boxwave HD glass one. I previously got the cheaper model – no good, but the HD glass is invisible and much easier to apply, and can even be removed, cleaned, and reapplied if necessary.

    • Ric

      I bought the cheaper one (because it is cheaper :-)) from HD-clear to give it a try.
      I just put it on and what i like already that it is “anti-fingerprint”.

      I wear the 735 now for 2,5 days and had 1 run.
      I am very positive till now!!

  172. Andria

    Hi, I have a problem regarding heart rate on my 735xt. Sometimes my watch can read the heart rate and sometimes it just goes blank. Where does it goes wrong?
    I have to delete my particular activity profile and re-do it again so that my735xt can read my heart rate.

  173. Luke

    Great review, really comprehensive! I’m trying to understand the benefits from the tri and swim straps, I simply don’t understand how to swim train with hr and if the other stars like ground contact actually mean a lot. Basically I’m trying to figure out whether to go for the 735xt tri bundle or just buy the watch and use an existing strap that came with an edge 510. Any thoughts or advice would be great! For info I’m a triathlete doing standard distance and thinking about half IM but nothing more than that anytime soon.

  174. Janet Edwards

    Help! The screen on my brand new 735XT is frozen. I was installing an update but the watch froze during the restart portion. I can’t turn it off or restart. Anybody have any idea how to fix this?

  175. SERGIO GUTIERREZ

    I´ve taken my 735XT a couple of times to the pool wearing my HR monitor. For some reason when I press save in my watch it restarts itself and I loose all the info of that training. Has it happened to anyone else? Is there a fix?

  176. Roger

    Update software to 4.40 – that will fix it. There is a lot of discussion about this above but the new update rectifies the issue.

  177. When I got my FR735XT, I wasn’t happy with the field layouts. I wanted a big speed display in the top half, and cadence and HR in the bottom left and right. I figured I had to write a data field, so I did – SmartCycle :-)

    SmartCycle ended up being much better than I had anticipated. At the top is an average speed over/under indicator bar. There is a battery gauge, and HR zones bars. A compass pointer tells you which direction you are headed (in adding this I was possibly the first to discover that the FR735XT actually has a compass! It’s not just GPS based.). And it intelligently shows watts and cadence if the sensors are present.

    When you are not moving, SmartCycle automatically shows relevant stats like distance and average speed. On many devices it shows up to 9 different stats.

    The link is here, hope you like it!
    link to apps.garmin.com

  178. AJ

    Do you notice a difference in hydrodynamics between the larger 920xt and the 735xt? I would prefer the 735xt for size, but I don’t like OHR—it doesn’t work for me. Wish there were a slimmer, lighter, larger-screened, version of 920xt. I have the 920xt tri-bundle, and the 735xt staring at me right now. hard to decide which to keep. 735xt falls short for me, so the extra cost is vexing; mostly concerned about the size of the 920xt, though it could probably work as a temporary solution since I need the straps anyway. then hopefully replace it with a 930xt someday—hopefully without OHR.

  179. Aria

    Hi Ray, thanks for this detailed review, and after pulling myself up from the floor on your uncanny Oreo comparison I do have 2 major questions that ´feel´ unanswered.

    1.: What about the plastics durability (case and screen) over let´s say the 920? Will the screen go matte easily from wearing long sleeves, or worse, will it scratch in day-to-day usage as this is an activity Tracker as well. You can always add a protective cover, but it will decrease readability.

    2. What would your honest recommendation be: This one @ 400 Euro´s, or the F3 HR @ 550 Euro´s. I´m really torn here, the lighter (like half) 735 with a bunch of much desired spec (annoyingly no Baro, but they would kill their other product while doing so) or go with the F3 that gives you some nice add features and sensors and of course that more stylish look, and the FR735XT will give you… errr. let´s say the 80´s Casio feel…

    Thanks!

    • Thanks Aria!

      1) I’d say durability is equal there. I wouldn’t personally bother with a protective cover for either.

      2) Personally, I’ve decided I prefer the lighter feel of the FR735XT. While the lack of baro annoys me as well, for most of my usual running routes they’re fairly flat – so its OK. The FR735XT is on my wrist at the moment and what I plan to use for my run in the morning.

    • Aria

      Hi Ray,

      Thanks, I´ve just ordered the 735.

      Now comes the waiting game :)

      Thanks and keep up the great reviews, I think it´s really helping us all work through the complete madness of units out there!

  180. Gerald

    Hi Ray,

    Many thanks for all your reviews, they are certainly detailed and worth reading before coughing up hard earn cash to purchase a device. I have since purchased a 735XT device as well as the 4iiii Precision PM.

    Back to the 735XT – to complete the LTHR test, does one need the HRM-TRI strap, or will it work for any ANT+ strap?

    I use my old HR strap from the 310XT, and have tried the test, going through the various “zones” during the guided test, but it fails at the end. “Threshold cannot be detected”

    After a warm up, press lap
    136-145bpm for 4:00
    145-153bpm for 4:00
    153-162bpm for 4:00
    162-171bpm for 3:00

    • Stuart

      Just a thought – have you tried replacing the battery in the transmitter unit?

      But that said, I’ve found that the “old style” HRMs seem to be relatively quick to drop out – doing the stress test with the clip-in transmitter always fails for me (it loses the heart rate after a short period of standing still, and comes back with zero result as a consequence), whereas it worked fine with the HRM-Tri. A new battery might help with that. Or it might not – I don’t know enough about the design/internals to judge.

    • Gerald

      Thanks Stuart,

      I’ll change the battery for the sake of “process of elimination” and see if that helps. However, it bombs out using both a Garmin HRM and also a PowerCal HR strap.

    • Stuart

      Yeah, it’s more a case of “it’s an obvious thing to try, give it a go” than a serious expectation that it will make a difference. Worth a shot, considering how cheap the button cells are, but I’d not be surprised if it doesn’t work.

      Good luck, in any case.

  181. Zak

    Is there a way to see smart notifications, after they come in, during activity? Sometimes when I’m cycling I can’t look at a notification right away and can’t figure out how to see what came in after it disappears from the screen.

    • Mike

      Not without pausing the activity. And I hate that, you feel like you have to hurry up and look at your watch for notifications during the workout, because if you miss it, there’s no way to go back to the notification without stopping. Sure wish they’d change it and make the option for persistent notifications during an activity.

  182. Ric

    Hi!
    I have used the broadcast HR mode to my Edge 810.
    That worked fine except it stops automatically after one hour.
    I could not find a setting for this.
    Anyone an idea?

  183. Roy Dikhedd

    Hi. Love your site and articles :-)

    I do lots of OCR, jogging, running inside, running outside and some weightlifting. Will this watch work for me even if it’s a triathlon watch? I have a Vivosmart HR+ today, which I feel falls a little short, as I want to up the heart rate measuring intervals and connect a HR belt. Of course I could go for the Vivoactive HR feature wise, but I suspect it’s too big for my small wrists. After some research I’ve concluded that the Forerunner 735XT will fit me perfectly, so this is kind of a compromise, but will the clock fail me anyway? Any thoughts on this, please? :)

    A YouTube reviewer specifically said that the 735XT will work bad inside doing weights, but your review say it has a Strength mode?

    Cheers :)

  184. Stress Test: Is there any way on garmin connect to track stress testing

    I love this feature. 3 minutes in the morning shows me if my recovery from previous workouts was sufficient. (there no such thing as overtraining, only inadequate recovery….right?)

    So far its been “bang on accurate” in using my heart rate variability and giving me a score…which enable me to hit it hard or pull back a bit as required. Generally feeling stronger and fresher by paying attention to it.

    Question though: Is there any way on garmin connect to track stress testing or am i stuck with using pencil and paper and jotting it down in a notebook?

    • Maria

      I too really would like to know this.

    • Maria

      My stress score is always 100, well 90+ happens and yesterday I achieved 87. I stand still and do as I’m told. Today after I got my usual 100 I went to the kitchen, sat down and grabbed my iPad for the next three minutes. Stress score: 47.
      Any thoughts? I really am interested in this number. Working in the night shift, often having issues with sleep and food it would be great if this was a number I actually could work with.

  185. Julian

    Has anyone noticed any large discrepancies in VO2 max estimates between the 735XT and other Garmin devices? My Epix is giving a range of 58-60 and the 735XT 54-55. Any ideas as to why this might be, given it is larger than the margin of error on the VO2 max estimate I’d expect.

    • Double check your age & gender settings.

    • Julian

      Thanks Ray – checked that and it’s the same on both devices. Going to get in touch with Garmin support and see if they can help (doubt it).

      I typically train twice a day and am wondering if that is throwing the estimates off some how. This would assume the 735XT has an updated algo though I don’t know enough about the algo used to see if that is the case.

  186. Marcos

    Hi! I’m moving to triathlon so I need to change my FR620 for a multi-sport watch. Regarding price, 920xt, Fenix 3 and 735xt are all on the same level… should I get any of these or wait for the sucessor of the 920xt?

    I don’t intend to do Ironman races, so battery is not an issue. I don’t like the design of the 920xt but I fear the Fenix 3 might be too heavy… I’ve read all your reviews but I’m still struggling to decide.

  187. Is it capable of playing music direct from watch? I guess not if it cannot connect to bluetooth headphones? Only via phone…
    and 2. no Optical HRM meaning that you HAV to wear the strap to get a HR reading?
    Sorry Im a newbie coming from an OLD finally DEAD FR 420!!! Getting into sprint distance triathlons right now and a small female looking for a nice “pretty” yes I like the BLUE!….small but functional watch….
    Running room has a sale on a piddly 10% off tomorrow on them and I am in desperate need!!
    HELP!

    • Stuart

      Music direct from the watch – no, it won’t do that. Bluetooth is purely for live tracking, activity uploads, software updates, social media, and phone notifications.

      As for the optical HRM – it has that built in. What the optical HRM won’t do is track your HR in the water, and it can’t be used for the “stress test” app. It also won’t provide data for some ancillary pieces of fitness information, like your VO2 max. It’s considered unreliable compared with a chest strap, but it’s not so bad that I’d say that it’s completely useless – it’s certainly better than nothing.

  188. Maria

    I have a question when it comes to HR and zones. With all the measurements the watch does, will it automatically change to settings in GC and hence keep things up to date?

  189. Maria

    Hi again,
    I can’t wear the watch at work but knew from wearing the vivofit that the activity tracker works fine in my work pocket. What I didn’t expect was a continuous HR in that pocket, too. But still, there it is and the numbers are absolutely what I’d expect them to be. Has anybody experienced this?

    • FlipStone

      Just bought the 735XT as an upgrade to the 235 and so far very pleased with it… It feels quite a bit snappier (both in operating but also in getting hr, gps, with syncing, etc).

      Also, it seems it does have a compass afterall?

      When installing the compass widget you can choose to use position or sensor. When choosing sensor it shows the (proper) direction all the time (also when deep inside a building). When choosing position it gives me a ‘stale position’ when sitting at my desk.

    • FlipStone

      Sorry, wasn’t meant as a reply to Maria but as a general remark but can’t see a way to change that (or edit my original msg?)

  190. Laurel

    I purchased the 735 over the 920 mainly for the heart rate capability. I am unable to wear a chest strap and was wearing an optical HR monitor on my arm already, so I feel like the comparison was fairly equal. The other reason for my choice was the intention to replace my apple watch as an every day watch and the smaller round size is my preference. Finally, 70.3 is my go-to distance and I made concessions for my full:

    I raced a full last week, knowing that the battery life would not make it and I had a back up watch in my T2 bag for the run. I did not turn off my HR monitor, or any alarms and I used my garmin cadence and speed sensors which I anticipated would drain battery life too. When I finished the bike I had 17% battery life so I went ahead and changed watches for the run. At the end of the race it still had 17% power since I had not used the GPS for the run.

    Additionally on the bike I took a pretty bad crash early on in the race. I had multiple areas of road rash on my watch arm but only a very minute , practically invisible mark on the top of the metal face rim. The first thing I did when I got up was look at my watch and asked if my bike was okay. LOL

    I’m very pleased with the functions, capabilities and overall quality of the 735. It meet my needs perfectly.

  191. Angela

    Thanks for the feedback. I think I know what I’m going to do. Although the 235 is interesting too! Sooo many choices! I just have to bite the bullet and get it!
    Thanks all

  192. Alison

    Recently picked up a 735XT and immediately updated it to the latest firmware (4.4). I noticed that the battery life isn’t nearly what I expected it to be. It looks like others over on Garmin’s official forums have been complaining about less than stellar battery life starting with firmware version 4.3. Has anyone else been experiencing this with the latest firmware?

  193. Javier

    For swimming in pools, do I have to do flips on each end so it can recognize my distance? I ask this because I just bought the 735xt a couple of weeks ago and after 6 swims (already set the pool lenght at 25 meters), none of them have the right distance. Maybe is something I am doing or not that is causing this.

    • Stuart

      I don’t do flip/tumble turns (50 metre pool), and it seems to be reasonably close for the most part. Where it messes up for me is if I’m doing certain drills (eg: kicking, sculling), or if my stroke abruptly changes halfway through a lap (eg: if I get stuck behind somebody and change to breaststroke so I can keep my speed down.)

      In my experience, Garmins tend to be rather marginal for tracking laps in the pool; I usually take it as being plus or minus ten percent. The 910XT was similar for me.

    • Javier

      Thanks a lot Stuart, I thought it had something to do with me, but I see now that everything seems right except that there is margin of error. Yesterday I swam 2.3k and my watch showed 2.25k which is pretty accurate. Thanks again. By the way, DC, excellent review.

  194. Mark Rodricks

    Thanks for the amazing review. Pretty much answers most questions. I do plan to get the 735XT without the Tri-Bands. I do triathlon’s but not on the level of an Ironman. Well atleast just yet. So I think without the bands is fine for me for now. If someone thinks otherwise, please do let me know. I’m not a stickler for HR for swimming so that aspect missing is fine for me. Neither is the “stress score”. Knowing these aspects, do let me know if I still need the band.

    Now to my important question, I play football (soccer) pretty fairly over and above my training. What am I hazy about is:

    1) Will the 735xt recognize the sport when done?
    2) Does it use GPS/GLONASS to show me distance run and at what intensity?
    3) Do I need to push a button and have a custom workout to access the game before I start?
    4) Any other details I maybe missing on?

    I look forward to your response.

    • Dave O

      Mark,

      I’ve just ordered one and will update if I have an answer. I referee competitive youth soccer and plan to use it while I’m officiating to track my total distance run and review my positioning for both diagonal and dual control systems.

      By the way, referee’s are instructed to only allow players to wear medical bands, and those must be taped down. I’d never allow a player to wear any sort of a watch. Please don’t purchase this with the expectation that you’ll be permitted to wear it on the field during play.

    • Dave O

      I’ve used it now for several games as both a center referee and assistant. I set up a custom activity (other) with the following settings:
      GPS Normal (no GLONASS since games are in the open)
      Manual laps
      No alerts

      I start the activity right before blowing the whistle, let it run through half time and end it when the game ends. I’m planning to continue to use my Timex Ironman as my primary time piece. I may decide to do splits for half time and ‘overtime’ if I want to use the Garmin for keeping game time.

      The 735XT is storing my positions on the field quite well. It is working exactly how I had hoped it would. Reviewing my tracks, I thought I saw some anomalies, but when I realize when they occurred, I remembered why I was in particular location, such as conversations with ARs or coaches. I’ve attached a screen shot of the Garmin Connect activity for an 80 minute game I officiated last week. (4.2 miles)

      The battery life is outstanding. I’m pretty sure it will work over a weekend series of tournament games. Certainly for a day (3-5 games).

      I’ve also used it for several training runs and it is amazing. With the Tri-strap, it has identified some things I need to work on (cadence and oscillation).

      For just wearing around logging heart rate, it is taking about 10% down per day, but I pretty much just charge it for an hour or so when I watch TV in the evening, so I haven’t let it get down below 75%. I wear it all day and it is very comfortable. More so than the Timex I used to wear and far better than the Gear Fit activity tracker I had a couple years ago. I’m finding the sleep info somewhat interesting, although I doubt it is very ‘real’.

      Like I said in another post, a player would have a tough time getting a referee in the US to approve them wearing a watch in a competition. About the only way I’d allow it would be if a player could produce a doctor note saying they needed it and it was covered/padded as much as possible. That player would be warned that if it hit anyone or looked like it was being swung around recklessly, they will be cautioned.

  195. Tapio

    Hi Ray and thanks for a great review.

    I have a one question though.
    I like to do a lot of different sports and I’m not able to wear the watch in some sports. For example if I do a volleyball with a HRM-tri bundle will I be able to get some metrics like hr afterwards?

    Thanks…

  196. Kirk Gepilano

    Hi Ray thank for a very helpful review. Just a few questions:
    1. Can it feed real time data like Heart rate and distance to the phone where the phone will broadcast if I am wearing a Bluetooth earphone?
    2. If I only use Garmin HRM swim can it identify the change of heart rate monitoring automatically before Swimming (wrist HR), during Swimming (read swim HRM) and then after swim back to HR tracking using the watch automatically or during a triathlon tracking?

    Thank you very much in advance for taking the time to read and answer my clarification.

    Regards,
    Kirk

  197. Aznan

    Quirk: You can’t broadcast your HR while in an activity. This limits being able to use the function, especially with trainer apps (where the optical HR sensor actually works fairly well). [Update – Aug 14th, 2016: Now you can with the new firmware update released this weekend. Woot!]

    How do I do this ?

    • Stuart

      From the watch, press the “Start/Pause” button (to go into Activity mode). Then press the down button to open up the menu. Choose “Settings”, “Heart Rate Monitor”, “Broadcast Heart Rate”.

      That’s different from the standard broadcast HR mode, which is documented in the manual. I don’t know if it will do it whilst you’re wearing a paired HR strap; guessing it won’t.

    • Aznan

      tks got it working now.

  198. Andy

    Perhaps a silly question so I apologise in advance. But has anyone tried to pair Scosche Rhythm+ to Garmin 735xt? The days are getting colder and the Scosche might come handy once one needs to wear their watch not on the bare skin but on top of a long sleeve. Thanks for the feedback!

    • Laurel

      That’s a great thought! I have the Scosche and a 735. I’ll try it and post back about it. I would imagine it would work just like the others though.

  199. Marc Aurell

    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.

  200. Glen Jonsen

    Hello :) I want to clean the strap. How do I remove the red sensor from the strap? Glen.

  201. Diego

    I have had my 735xt for a few weeks and keep having the same problem with it not recognising my Quarq power meters automatically (i have one on my tri bike and one on my road bike) most of the time. In Triathlon mode, the 735 won’t recognise the Quarq after coming out of the water and starting the bike portion. Obviously it is a pain to have to connect manually during a race so I end up not doing it but then have to ride w/o power for pacing. Any ideas as to how to fix it? The watch is in the 4.40 firmware version which is the latest one.

  202. CHRIS

    Hi there…

    The VIP Code is expired at Clever training. Doe these discounts only apply in the first few months of a new product ?

    Thanks

  203. Nick

    Is there a way to turn the backlight on for the entirety of an activity? I had a Timex Run Trainer 1.0, and you could press and hold the backlight button until it beeped, and the backlight would stay on until you pressed it again. It was great to have the backlight on and just glance down during runs while it’s still dark instead of pushing a button every time.

    • FlipStone

      You can set backlight to stay on instead of time-out. (This is only valid in activities/menus… not in watchface mode. There it will just go off after a few secs).

      Settings -> System -> Display Light -> Time-out –> Stay on

  204. Gail

    Hi, Ray … I’m having trouble with my 735 (bought the first day via rainmaker vip, yay) recording open water swim. A typical swim is from the beach straight out into the ocean 300m, wait for the rest of my group to get there, then swim parallel to shore a while, wait for everyone, swim back, then back to shore. My 910 did this fine, although it would beep “lost satellite” on occasion. But 735 seems to lose GPS when I am treading/waiting and never gets it back, so yesterday’s regular 1.5 mile was recorded as 250y (distance to the first wait spot) in 45 minutes, and a 3000-m race in high surf in May (lots of underwater duck diving) was recorded as 55 minutes, 300y. It doesn’t seem to be counting strokes during the “lost” period, but it’s counting time. I have tried both GPS and GPS+Glonass, and I am on extended power save time. Garmin says they have no idea. My coach says find faster friends so I don’t have to wait. :) Any thoughts?

  205. Rose Loong

    My HR sensor is not working and I just got my watch yesterday!

  206. Gabe

    Disappointing it’s cheap plastic screen for a $450 watch ..

    Solid watch so far

    • Paul Rogerson

      Put a tempered glass screen saver on it. Brightens up the display and no smearing or fingerprints visible, plus they cost next to nothing on eBay.

  207. Aston Hooi

    Ray, when I use my 735XT in pool swim mode,and I start a workout, whenever I press the pause button to pause recording, when I resume it will stop tracking entirely – as in,it won’t count my laps or anything. The only way to make it work is to pause and resume again. But when doing that the watch will move to the next step in the workout. My 735XT is on the latest software version,4.40.

  208. Hi can anyone please post a picture of themselves in normal day wear with the watch? Am trying to see if the watch would be too geeky for normal day use. Thankss!!

  209. Ric Immens

    With the Philips watchface
    I have a small wrist

    Is this what you mean?

    • yeoyo

      Somewhat yes!! Do you think you look weird when wearing the watch on a day-to-day basis? I saw a guy wearing it and it looked kind of weird mainly because the watch was so round but that being said it was only a glance. Do you feel nornal when wearing it usually and does anyone comment on your watch?

    • Ric

      Not at all.
      I feel normal and got only 2 comments but both were positive.
      Regards from the Netherlands.

  210. Pedro

    How do I set the crank length of a power meter? I have a Pioneer PM but even when it’s connected and I go into the details I can’t set the crank length, I can only calibrate it and see details like firmware, S/N etc.

    • Paul S.

      Not every power meter needs the crank length. A quick search on the web shows that Pioneer is manufactured into a crankset, so they’ve already made the appropriate measurements. In general, pedal based power meters need to know the crank length, but others (crank arm based, chain ring based, hub based) do not.

  211. Paul Rogerson

    Really useful and comprehensive review. Thank you. I currently have a 235 and a 910xt and may trade both for a 735xt. Love the ability with the 235 to use it as a regular watch and the battery life is great. The Connect-IQ apps are quite useful too and provide extra functionality to the standard watch. Perhaps you could review some of these for a future article.

  212. Seamus B.

    I’ve recently noticed that my wrist heart rates is slow to pickup when starting a run. I always wait until confirmation it is ready but it can sometimes take from a few to 10 minutes before the displayed / recorded value is accurate. I have also noticed alongside this that the number of cadence samples seems to be reduced (See attached images). Any suggestions would be very appreciated.
    The runs affected have been in cooler weather when the device is covered by a top or a jacket or both if this is relevant.
    Thanks.

  213. Josh

    Ray, Do you anticipate potential black friday sale prices applying to the 735 and its respective bundles?

  214. Kartik

    Ray & Tim Grose,

    G’day from Melbourne, Australia.

    Need some buying advice here.

    I have a VivoActive, which I’m reasonably happy with, but the ‘itch’ has set it and am looking to upgrade (and palm the VA off to my son). I gym, bike, do HIIT trg and play competitive tennis (and swim very occasionally). I can use my rewards points to purchase one of the following Garmin watches – either a 630 or a 235 or a 735XT or a Fenix3 (I could buy a VA HR as well, but i don’t like the shape). I’m not hung up on an inbuilt optical sensor as I’m very happy with my Scosche. I like the 630 since it allows me to create my own sport (Tennis) and record accordingly (as opposed to recording it as a run and changing it post-facto on GarminConnect); but the 630 doesn’t record swimming (not very important for me, can live with that) and seems to have issues with the touchscreen (note – the 630 represents massive value for me as it consumes least amt of rewards points). The 735XT does all that 630 can but can measure swims too. I’m tempted to go the Fenix3 route, but am apprehensive on whether it’ll be appropriate for my very slender wrists. I have spent heaps of time on the DCR website as well as the Garmin forums, but have only succeeded on confusing myself further.
    Given my profile above, do you have a suggestion on what watch will be the right fit for me? The Garmin sale using my rewards expires on 31-Oct, hence the urgency.
    Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Cheers,
    Kartik.

    • FlipStone

      @Kartik:

      I can only comment on the 235 and 735xt as I own the latter (and sold the former for it). For smaller wrists they both fit just great, but the same will be the case for the 630. I think indeed the Fenix3 will be too bulky but that also is personal.

      The 735xt is also quite a bit faster compared to the 235, perhaps I had a ‘bad’ 235 as some ppl say they don’t notice the difference too much but I certainly do. Especially when installing connectIQ apps and such. The 735xt is also marginally smaller (mainly noticed it when trying to apply a 235 screenprotector to it ;) ).

      Functionality wise the 735xt also tops the 235. When you just want to do some running and biking, the 235 is great. It also has a ‘other’ activity which you might use for your swimming (and there are probably connect iq apps which can also help with the swimming activity part).

      But apart from the activities one of the main plusses of the 735xt are the navigation possibilities. You can store locations (usually only those when you are actually there, using the gps of the watch, but with connect IQ apps you can store any point). You can then point to that location and have a guide where to go as well as the distance left.

      The routes are also great, you can store multiple routes (created on garmin connect) and the wathc will tell you how to go (basic directions and distances along with the route map, so no extended google maps kinda stuff but still an awesome addition).

      I can’t comment on the 630 but I personally prefer a non-touch screen on these kinda watches (not really confident they work well when wet, and I can also imagine operation is more tricky while running).

      All in all, I can really recommend the 735xt and have no regret at all getting rid of the 235 for it. Even though you might not need the OHR, it IS an addition even if only for 24/7 monitoring…

      Hopefully this helps somewhat and of course, your mileage may vary ;) Good luck with your decision!

    • Kartik

      FlipStone,
      Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. I tried the Fenix3 on my wrist at the store and it was ginormous. I’m really leaning towards the 735XT, based on your recco.
      Thanks again.
      Cheers,
      K.

    • Chris Jmio

      Hi Ray,

      Stupid questions of the day:

      I have a Stryd Pioneer, and I was wondering, do I have to buy Garmin’s HRM too? If I want to run the Lactate Threshold test can I save $50 bucks and just purchase the 735xt without the strap? Do I get any additional benefit of the Garmin Strap vs. Stryd’s?, since Stryd seems to have all of the metrics Garmin does. Thanks.

  215. Ben

    Just a q about the optical heart rate. Does it matter wear you wear the watch or just that its tight on the skin. I generally wear my 910xt on the inside of my wrist when riding my TT bike as I can see the display when on the aero bars, I then flip it over during the run leg. Would this be an issue?

  216. Ian s

    Great review, thanks Ray. Does anyone know whether a tickr x will enable the running dynamic metrics to be captured or do I need to pickup a garmin run HRM?

    Thanks

  217. Adam

    How does it work for trail running or in the mountains? Anyone have experience with this watch in these conditions?

    • Roger

      Well I have used mine for mountainbiking on trails / single track and also running in the woods / on trails & it works pretty well. If there is heavy tree cover it sometimes loses the signal briefly but not something that I would say has ever bothered me much.

  218. James

    Ray, your site is amazing and I have been using it to make decisions for over a year now. Wish you had Amazon.co.uk and Wiggle.co.uk connections to let me buy at those stores through your site!
    Anyhow, really basic question. My wife has a Forerunner 735XT and an Edge 1000. It seems that the two do not connect/talk to each other (so that, e.g., the watch HRM could display on the Edge). Is that right or am I missing something?
    Thanks v much in advance.
    James

    • Paul S.

      As I understand it, all of the Garmin devices with built in HRM can be used as ANT+ HR sensors. However, you have to put them into that mode, and they can’t be used as independent devices then (all they can do is be HR sensors in that mode). I just looked, and it’s on page 4 of the 735XT manual.

    • Hogesyx

      there is no need, with the latest firmware for most device, you can also enable auto broadcast during an activity.

    • James

      Thanks both. RTFM then …

    • Oh – and, you can indeed support via Amazon.co.uk! On the right side of the site there’s a giant Amazon logo, and right below it is the Amazon.co.uk link (listed next to other countries). I appreciate it (especially if you plan to purchase diamond rings)!

  219. Prasun B

    ​Hands down the best watch for multi-sport activity. I did my research extensively and I settled down with the 735xt. No regrets since then. I typically lap swim and run during the week. So I needed a device which could meet both these needs. Now while swimming I don’t need to guess the laps I swim..very accurate with lap counting. While running I do splits of running and walking and the brick option allows me to switch between my run and walk splits. Also I love the watch faces that can be downloaded from Connect IQ store. Great battery life too. Thanks Garmin for giving me the motivation I need to keep up with my workout routine!!

  220. JohnnyF

    Will the 735 broadcast power meter settings to an edge 25? Review seemed to talk about HR. But I didn’t notice power.
    I need a power meter setup but the darn edge 25 doesn’t support power. Thought I may have a loophole if it does so I won’t have to buy 2 new devices plus a power meter. Lol.

    • Stuart

      The 735XT can transmit HR data because it has a HR sensor built in, as well as electronics to handle the transmission. It isn’t a power meter; it cannot transmit power data of its own accord. There are devices that can, but those are protocol translators – they take in ANT+ power data and retransmit it as Bluetooth data.

      If the Edge 25 doesn’t support power, there’s nothing you can do to make it receive and display that data.

    • JohnnyF

      Stuart et al…,

      Ok, can someone confirm with me that the 735 will independently record power meter readings? Regardless of what device you have on the bars…

      I’m pretty sure it does but want to confirm before pulling the trigger…I currently have a none power edge 25.

    • Stuart

      I’m not exactly certain what it is you’re getting at here. I’m going to go out on a limb and describe a scenario (ie: the way I usually use my bike sensors) in the hopes that it reflects what you want to do.

      I have a Garmin Edge 520 and the Forerunner 735XT. When I’m out on a bike ride, I’ll put the Edge on my handlebars and turn it on; it will connect to the bike’s cadence sensor, speed sensor, power meter (in my case, Garmin Vectors), and my HRM strap. I might (should, but often don’t) tell the Edge to start a calibration on the Vectors.

      When I’m ready to ride, I’ll put the 735XT into bike mode; it will also connect to the cadence and speed sensors, power meter, and HRM. Both devices are recording as I ride – the main difference is a slight difference in time, thanks to them not being started at the exact same instant in time.

      I do this so that the 735XT can maintain accurate information on my fitness across all three sports, whilst being able to see what I’m doing (especially if I want to maintain a consistent power output) on the bike – the Edge is a much more convenient display than turning my wrist to see the 735XT, and I can’t justify the cost of a Varia Vision.

      The only time I’ve had an issue with using multiple head units is when I’ve been using my iPhone to control my Kickr, and the Edge 520 has connected to it using the ANT+ FE-C control channel at the same time.

      Does this help answer your question, or am I completely misunderstanding what you’re asking?

    • JohnnyF

      I think yopu answered it.

      I guess I just needed to know if you needed a device on the bars that had power reading ability to broadcast power to the 735.
      Versus the 735 just picking up the power readings independently.

      Just don’t want to buy new device for bar and watch. Its not optimal but not too hard to glance at wrist if need be.

      Was considering the vivoactive but definitely doesn’t support power per DC review. I like form factor of the vivo. Also in the ringer is the 920 which I think support power in the same way a 735 would…

      JF

    • Stuart

      That’s one of the good things about ANT+: you can have multiple head units receiving data at the same time. Unlike Bluetooth LE, which can have only one pairing active at any given time (and hence needs re-transmitters if you need or want more than one unit receiving data.)

      The main differences between the 735XT and the 920XT, as far as I can tell (and certainly from the point of view of what I need, which is not necessarily what you need) are the form factor, and the battery life (the 920XT will last longer on a single charge than the 735XT.) There are some things in the 735XT that are useful, like activity monitoring (telling me to get up and move every hour, number of steps, etc.), but they aren’t critical to me.

      Basically, from the point of view of half Ironman triathlon and shorter, there’s not much difference – functionality wise – between the 920XT, the 735XT, and the Fenix 3. Full Ironman triathlon is where the battery life comes into play as a consideration. (My one and only half to date took me around 6:15, and the 735XT was around half charge, if I remember rightly, by the end. Plenty of margin there. It’s going to be a while before I look at full Ironman in any case.)

  221. William Wright

    Hi Ray,

    My 735 seems to just quit broadcasting HR after about 5mins, when broadcasting and doing an activity its fine. but when just broadcasting it seems to fail any ideas?

    will

  222. paul barton

    I thought this was the Forerunner with live strava segments, I guess not. Which one does that?

    (thanks)

    • Reed

      I think that’s the one – the function was probably added after Ray wrote the review. However, you will need a strava Premium account, and you have to highlight segments before hand and make sure you have synced your watch. (You will find a thorough review on this site, just search for “live segments”.)

    • Reed

      Update: The 735XT definitely supports Strava live segments. Gave it a try and it works like a charm. I am not a cyclist so did not know that feature from bike computers. For running it is a lot of fun and allows for a new-is workout type: fartleks based on strava segments.

    • Correct, it was added some time down the road in a firmware update (details here: link to dcrainmaker.com)

      I’ve just updated the tables to show it.

    • Christian Borchgrevink-Vigeland

      Can I choose if I want to race against my PR, a friends PR or the KOM on this watch? Thanks.

    • Ali Fowler

      Yes, you can choose your own PR, the KOM or your nearest friend’s PR if they are faster than you. Eg if I was 3rd fastest out of my group of friends I can only choose to race against the time that is 2nd fastest (until I beat that time).

    • Christian Borchgrevink-Vigeland

      Thanks. Can you choose this for all segments globally and by default, or do you have go into each segment separately?

    • Ali Fowler

      By default it will race you against your nearest friend above you on the leaderboard or your PR if you are fastest of your friends. I don’t know of a way to set a default to race against your PR only.

    • Christian Borchgrevink-Vigeland

      Thanks. What about racing against KOM?

    • Ali Fowler

      As far as I know, if you want to race against the KOM, you’d have to select that from the Strava Segment settings on the watch. Unfortunately, I think you have to do this for each individual segment.

    • Christian Borchgrevink-Vigeland

      Any way to get PR as default then? Thanks.

    • Morten Andersen-Gott

      The comparision chart still says ‘no’ on strava live segments for 735XT

    • Doh – nice catch. Fixed.

      It’s funny, I had it changed in the main database entry, but that mini one-off chart was static (just a CSV import basically). So totally missed it. That of course goes back to the key reason I hate doing CSV charts – I miss updates like this that I add through the main product database.

      In any case – thanks!

  223. Gavin

    I am interested in the lactate threshold functionality, but is it simply a test to determine the threshold or is there more? Is there something to view subsequently on a data screen? Is the threshold automatically used by the device in some way? Many thanks, Gavino

    P.S. Also, can anyone comment on the usefulness of the ‘Performance Condition’ functionality?

  224. Reed

    Question to the community:

    Can anybody comment on how the watch holds up as a 24/7 watch after using it for a few months, now that it has been out for a while? It is such a great watch that has everything I want but it looks as if it wears off/breaks easily? I am planning on using it for workouts, of course, but also as my day to day watch.

    With the Fenix3HR on sale right now I am a bit on the fence. I know that has been discussed here at great length but for me the size of the Fenix just seems too much…

  225. Sherman Heydrich

    I just got my 735XT and have post 6.2 firmware (6.4) but I can not see how to broadcast HR and record an activity at the same as you mention. Once I start in broadcast mode, if I try to change screens the watch asks me if I wish to end broadcast mode. You mention that since the Aug 2016 firmware update it can do both but could you explain how? Thanks!!

    • Stuart

      It’s not obvious.

      Start by going into an activity (press the start/pause button). Then press the “down” button to go into the activity menu. Scroll through to “settings” (usually the last item, so just pressing the “up” button once should suffice) and press “start/pause” to choose it. Choose Heart Rate Monitor, then set “Heart Rate” to auto, “broadcast heart rate” to “auto”.

      And away you go.

    • Sherman Heydrich

      Stuart Thank you!!! Thank you for the concise info -I really appreciate it. I also connected my 735 (brand new today) via usb cable to my laptop. THIS is a must. Garmin connect via bluetooth on the phone HAD not in fact updated my firmware. Even when I was connected by USB to Garmin Express it said I had version 6.20 BUT ONLY once I disconnected then the phone advised that it needed to install that update. Once I really had the most current software I was able to set in activity broadcast to Auto as you explained. Looks like it also has a “broadcast HR” icon on the home screen-nice.

      Thank you again for taking the time to help me! Cant wait to test this thing out! the FR235 gets hand me down’d to the Mrs now ;)

  226. Roger

    I bought my 735xt last week and I like the watch. The only thing of which I am really disappointed of is the connection to Garmin Connect (Android). I get a connection to my mobile but I am not able to synchronise the watch. When I have a connection it gets lost every 30 minutes. No notifications possible.

    Is this bug already known? Maybe someone can help.

    Thank you.

  227. Kevin Miller

    Fantastic review and i’ve just gone and bought myself a 735xt and hope to use is for Olympic distance triathlons and a couple of Ultra Marathons. I do have a 24-hr race next year however, do you know if it possible to use an external battery back to charge the device while tracking an activity??

  228. Francesco

    Hi Ray.

    Do you feel that the 735xt will ever get oHRM during swimming? The chest strap is awful and useless for pacing. Even a single data point with average HR at the end of each lap would be much better.

    I don’t really care about HR for intervals and for steady state optical is good enough (I have tried it in another sport mode and compared to a Phoenix 3 with chest strap). In my case it’s not worst then in cycling.

    Related question: do you have any insight about Swimmo? I’m not willing to leave the Garmin ecosystem but neither I’m willing to wear a chest strap if I can avoid it.

    Thank you for your always great job… and for the discount code on Clever Training!

  229. Amno

    Hi.
    I got an FR230 (with HRM chest band) and thinking of replacing it with a 235 or 735. I will use it for activity tracking (steps), running and recreational activities like hikes and drives.
    I like the battery life of the 230 (about 3 weeks with the occasional exercise with GPS and/or HR, phone notifications, etc.) but am contemplating the wrist HR as I never had that.
    Would you say I should stick with the 230 or think about the 235/735? Thanks!

    • Reed

      My guess is that you won’t get too much added joy out of upgrading to a 235 and even 735, especially considering the price difference. The battery life is a bit less (probably because of wrist HRM), and it sounds like you are neither interested in biking or swimming (unless by “driving” you mean biking?). I think that for the 735XT you’ll get the most out of the watch if you are doing at least 2 out of the 3 triathlon disciplines. I love it for running and swimming, but the bike options remain mostly untapped at the moment. I will use it for XC skiing in the winter as well. If I were you I’d get another good years use or so out of the Garmin and then upgrade to whatever comes after 235/735. I just think you’ll feel like you are almost buying the same watch right now.

  230. Alexander

    Qustion about XC Skiing – profile
    I have 920 – w/o possibility Skiing activities
    I found only 1 ConnectIQ-application for skiing
    But after synchronization I see skiing (Not CC-skiing)

    For the 735, there are other possibilities?

  231. Alexander

    Qustion about Cross-contry Skiing – profile
    I have 920 – w/o possibility Skiing activities
    I found only 1 ConnectIQ-application for skiing
    But after synchronization I see skiing (Not CC-skiing)

    For the 735, there are other possibilities?

    • Francesco

      Hi.

      735XT supports running, cycling, pool swim, open water, SUP, row, hike, XC sky, strength, cardio, multisport.

      Phoenix 3 has some more activity profiles, including downhill skiing. This isn’t supported by FR735 for lack of a barometric altimeter.

    • Alexander

      Thank you,
      It is strange that the 920 has not added XC-skiing

      I am also interested run time in GPS-mode & without it – in clock mode

  232. Fabio M

    Ray,

    just a question about HRV from an optical HR or a Strap HR. In another review (maybe the 920xt indeep review) you explained that data such as recovery advisor, Training Effect are based on HRV monitoring. With an optical hr hrv can not be detected as well as with a strap HR, is this correct?

    So for the maximun accurancy of this values we always need to use a strap?

    It could be one of the reason because i really don’t care about a 930XT with only an optical HR as main new feature.

    Thank you

  233. Mathias Reding

    Hey, nice review.

    This 735 watch, it is not possible to attached this by the normal Garmin quarter mount?

  234. Jon

    Does anyone know if I can use my old HR strap from a Forerunner 610 with the 735XT?

  235. Ivan

    Can you pair this watch with mio link optical HR for swimming pool use instead of using swim memory belt?
    Thanks!

  236. Nicolas

    THANKS A LOT !
    This is the most complete analysis I’ve ever seen ! Wow
    I’ve bought my 735XT for 3 months, and more than I enjoy of it, I’m just like a child each time I use it.

    Actually I was seeking for more information about the compatibility with the varia vision device and the 735XT, because this device is mainly developed for cycling.
    And on my side I only run. So I wondered if it was comfortable to run with the varia vision device. It seems not, but now I know that it is possible to display my 735XT screens onto the heads up device.
    Then, did you make several running activities ? Ou did you merely stop using it once you wounded your nose ?
    Thanks for all, and for your potential incoming reply.
    Sorry for my english, I’m french and not so fluent…
    Nicolas

  237. Phillip

    One thing you don’t address is the ability to recharge the battery while on the go. I recently completed a 100 mile run that took me 25.5 hours. I was using the Garmin 230 and was able to recharge with a small portable charging device. I was wearing a running vest and just put the charging device in a pocket. It worked beautifully.

  238. PhoebeBee

    Please help. i want to know if there is any difference between a Garmin Forerunner and a Garmin Foreathlete? I’m currently in Japan and Garmin watches here are “fForeathlete”. Can someone enlighten me? Thank you.

  239. Jordy

    Hi there- very nice review. I recently got the vivoactive HR for a wrist based HR cycling. When you broadcast the vivoactive HR it cannot do anything else. Meaning control your music, etc.

    Is that the same case with this forerunner 735xt?

  240. James Hall

    Thanks for the review! Awesome comparisons between the Fenix 3/920XT. I found this to be very insightful.

    I have a couple of questions. Mainly, is there an advantage to purchasing the HRM-Tri/Swim straps, especially if they aren’t really live? Granted, some people may enjoy seeing the post-workout data, but I find the only time I really pay attention is when I’m looking to hit specific zones (this would also mean that my tolerance for the inaccuracy is a little higher).

    I’m also curious about your opinion on the 735XT vs the Fenix 3 HR. Based on your comparison, it looks like they have similar functionality, but with the Fenix 3 HR, you now have the advantage of the barometric pressure sensor (albeit the major drawback would be the massive price difference). If there isn’t a clear advantage, would it make more sense to wait for a potential update to the design of the 735XT that may include a barometric pressure sensor?

    Thanks for any insight!

    • Ian S

      The Fenix 3 has a good offer currently under the garmin black friday/cyber monday sale, from memory it’s currently cheaper than the 735xt.

      Re barometric I guess it depends whether you really need it. The only thing you don’t get is real elevation whilst live, if thats important for you to track then go fenix. If it’s something you might be interested in afterwards then the 735 is fine as it will be populated from GPS data.

      For me the smaller size of the 735 trumped the fenix but my use case meant I wasn’t really worried about the extra battery life or live elevation.

    • Lee Sutton

      I have the Tri and Swim straps and I find the heart rate data useful post exercise to review RPE v HR v Pace to get a view on how the workout went.

      Also, I sometimes use the live heart rate between intervals in the pool.

  241. Fey

    Hi Mr. DC,
    I currently already have D2 Bravo, is it gonna be redundant if I but 735XT too?
    I’m on the fence ready to jump for this :)
    Thank you for your help. Bloody awesome review!

    Fey

  242. Maria

    I wonder about the battery. In the users manual it says prior to the fist use one should charge the battery fully. Should this always be the case? Or can I charge a little here and there without harming the battery’s capacity?