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Garmin Forerunner 735XT In-Depth Review


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:


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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


And then the side profile:


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


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:


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:


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



Seriously, it’s mind-bogglingly impressive:


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


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)



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.


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:


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).


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.


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).


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.


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.


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).


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.



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.


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.


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):


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.


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.


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).


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.



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.



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.


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.


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:


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.


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.



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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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:


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:


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


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.


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:


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.


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.


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


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:


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 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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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
15-MayOpenwater SwimGPSAnalyze
18-MaySwimmingJust poolN/A
22-MayTriathlon RaceGPSAnalyze
24-MayTrainerJust one deviceN/A
25-MaySwimmingJust poolN/A
27-MaySwimmingJust poolN/A
29-MayTriathlon RaceGPSAnalyze
31-MayTrainerJust one deviceN/A

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

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well, more details here.)

GPS & Altimeter 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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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).


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.


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:


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).


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.


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.


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


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
15-MayOpenwater SwimGPSAnalyze
18-MaySwimmingJust poolN/A
22-MayTriathlon RaceGPSAnalyze
24-MayTrainerJust one deviceN/A
25-MaySwimmingJust poolN/A
27-MaySwimmingJust poolN/A
29-MayTriathlon RaceGPSAnalyze
31-MayTrainerJust one deviceN/A

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:


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).


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.


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:


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

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 November 17th, 2022 @ 10:06 am New Window
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
Backlight GreatnessGoodGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesNoYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesYesYes (no steps though)
MusicGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Can control phone musicYesNoNo
Has music storage and playbackNoNoNo
Streaming ServicesNo
PaymentsGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Contactless-NFC PaymentsNo
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 735XTPolar V800Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Bluetooth Smart 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 deviceYesYesNo
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)
Running PowerWith extra sensor
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 featureNoYesNo
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
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
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNo
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+ Lighting ControlYesNoNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationYesNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNono (but can control GoPro)No
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNo
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
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
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.



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!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the Garmin Forerunner 735XT or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you shop with TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40! The Pro's Closet has been a long-time partner of the site here - including sponsoring videos like my cargo bike race, as well as just being an awesome Colorado-based company full of good humans. Check them out with the links below and the DCRAIN40 coupon!

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

This is a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart cycling cadence sensor that you strap to your crank arm, but also does dual Bluetooth Smart, so you can pair it both to Zwift and another Bluetooth Smart app at once if you want.

This is one of the top straps I use daily for accuracy comparisons (the others being the Polar H9/H10). It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and in fact dual-Bluetooth Smart too, in case you need multiple connectons.

While optical HR works on some newer Garmin watches, if you're looking for higher levels of accuracy, the HRM-TRI or HRM-SWIM are less expensive than the HRM-PRO, but lack the Bluetooth connectivity and a few other features.

This speed sensor is unique in that it can record offline (sans-watch), making it perfect for a commuter bike quietly recording your rides. But it's also a standard ANT+/BLE sensor that pairs to your device. It's become my go-to speed sensor.

The HRM-PRO Plus is Garmin's top-end chest strap. It transmits dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, but also transmits Running Dynamics & Running Pace/Distance metrics, stores HR data during a swim, and can be used without a watch for other sports. Also, it can transmit XC Skiing Dynamics as well.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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  1. 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.

  2. Glen Jonsen

    Hello 🙂 I want to clean the strap. How do I remove the red sensor from the strap? Glen.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 ?


  5. 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

  6. 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?

  7. Rose Loong

    My HR sensor is not working and I just got my watch yesterday!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Josh

    Ray, Do you anticipate potential black friday sale prices applying to the 735 and its respective bundles?

  16. 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.

    • FlipStone


      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

      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.

    • 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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?


  19. 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.

  20. 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.

    • 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)!

  21. 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!!

  22. 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…


    • 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.)

  23. 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?


  24. paul barton

    I thought this was the Forerunner with live strava segments, I guess not. Which one does that?


    • 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!

  25. 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?

  26. 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…

  27. 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 😉

  28. 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.

  29. 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??

  30. 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!

  31. Amno

    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.

  32. 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?

  33. 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


      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

  34. Fabio M


    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

  35. Mathias Reding

    Hey, nice review.

    This 735 watch, it is not possible to attached this by the normal Garmin quarter mount?

  36. Jon

    Does anyone know if I can use my old HR strap from a Forerunner 610 with the 735XT?

  37. Ivan

    Can you pair this watch with mio link optical HR for swimming pool use instead of using swim memory belt?

  38. Nicolas

    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…

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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?

  42. 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.

  43. 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!


  44. 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?

    • Reed

      Lithium ion batteries, like used in the 735XT SHOULD not be susceptible to be only charged here and there. I do it all the time and its fine (also on previous Garmin and they lasted for years, for example my 610 from early 2012 is still going strong, battery wise). I suspect that sometimes people use Garmins out of the box and are then disappointed by the battery life (because they were not fully charged obviously).

  45. Javier

    I have had my FR 735xt for 3 months but now I am experiencing that the OHR is not locking on my pulse. I have cleaned it with soft tissues and water, mild soaps and nothing. I also have cleaned my wrist and nothing. The heart icon flashes but it is not locking. I have seen this 4 times, especially when I don’t wear it for 1 or 2 days. Has anybody experienced this?

  46. wilburt

    I’ve recently purchased a Forerunner 735XT to replace my Vivosmart. I noticed that when connected to Garmin connect via bluetooth, the forerunner does not upload my heart rate, sleep and activity data.

    If I connect to using a cable to garmin express, only the saved activities are uploaded, but the sleep and daily heartrate data is not uploaded.

    Can you please advise on this issue? My intention was to use the product for activity tracking, sleep tracking and daily heart rate tracking. At the moment, only one is working.

    Thank you

  47. wilburt

    In addition to the syncing issue, I have also noticed 2 other problems:

    1) Whenever I do an activity requiring GPS, the clock time changes to a wrong time. This is even after I have the Clock option to not set automatically (manually set the time). Currently I have to reset the clock almost every other day.
    2) The VO2 max measurement is not working for cycling. I have recorded several bike activities, short and long (including a 50km race with HR monitor and cadence sensor, etc). However, when I check my stats, it prompts me to ride at high intensity for 20 mins with HR monitor.

    Thank you

  48. Ato

    Is the altimeter fixed yet or is that impossible? Does it present the data correctly when transferred to Garmin Connect?

  49. Sander Van Lombeek

    Hi Ray,

    As always, excellent review! Thanks a lot!!

    Just one question regarding HR sensors. I have an old HR sensor (bought it with my FR220 so I guess it is a HRM 3?) and I’m wondering which functionalities will work correctly when being connected to a 735xt:
    – Running dynamics will not.
    – Suffer score, HR zone analyses etc will work I guess.
    But what about FTP, Lactate threshold tests, VO2 max and the race predictor?

    Thanks a lot for your answer!

  50. Tiago

    Hey brother!

    Just want to say that this is by far the single best review I have ever seen.

    I am genuinely grateful to you for sharing such high quality work with the world.

    Stay awesome!

  51. Paulo Sousa

    Hi Ray,

    I would like to know if you’ve heard of any issue with personal records.
    Received my 735 last week. Made 5 runs (including a 10K race) and the personal records page remain blank: «No records set or downloaded».
    Is it a bug?
    Questioned Garmin but still no answer.

    Best regards

  52. Mark Young

    Is it me or is this the only watch that delivers solid swim lap counting and running metrics in a round housing?

    I feel like I spent too much and don’t even use the biking features, however I use just enough of the running metrics (cadence is a must as is HR) along with basic swimming metrics (2 days a week) to need this. I admit to trying and returning a few watches (sorry Amazon), and in the end this one just feels way too good on the wrist – don’t even know it is there. From a day to aspect it crushes the TomTom Spark, VivoActive HR, and the M600 from a looks, comfort, and battery life (sans VAHR) aspect. Winter is a key time to test the day to day viability as I have to wear long sleeve dress shirts and frankly this is the only one that will enable me to pull this off.

    Feel like I completely over paid for what I use it for but frankly I love the watch and can find nothing to compete with it with a similar round “watch” look that is not an Android Watch (sorry 1 day battery life is not for me).

  53. Mikko

    Just bought 735xt and wondering all features what’s in it. Almost all works fine. One thing I am wondering with using my bike’s power rotor lt. 735xt can’t find the power meter. Has anyone try it the same? I am very dissapointed if this cannot work with 735xt. With garmin edge 800 found my power meter easily. I bought my bike with this expensive power meter and this multisport watch 735xt buying was made because of polar v800 invalid understanding about ant+. Can anyone help me out?

  54. chris

    Hello DC Rainmaker
    I have a question in regards to the compatibility of the HRM3 belt and the forerunner 735. Can they connect to each other? will the HRM3 belt provide all the same data richness as the tri-belt or the HRM4 belt?
    Thank you

    • The HRM3 will only provide heart rate data, that’s it.

      It won’t provide Running Dynamics like the HRM-TRI or HRM-RUN. So you won’t get stuff like vertical oscillation or ground contact, for what (little), that’s worth. Also, it won’t store data like the HRM-TRI for swimming.

  55. Reed

    Would anyone be able to let me know how to set cross country skiing as an activity on the 735? The activities I can choose from currently range from running to open water swimming, but there is no xc skiing activity I can select before I start my activity. Thanks for your help!

  56. Desire fourie

    Hi. My watch does not have the stand up paddle feature. I tried looking g for an app to download but couldn’t find one. Please assist. Basically bought it for this feature.
    Desireè Fourie

    • Reed

      Hi Desire, I could not figure it out either until Alex (see above) helped out. Garmin menus are not intuitive in my opinion. Anyhow, if you go to: Menu>settings >activity profiles>add new you will find an activity profile called SUP. I am pretty sure that stands for Stand Up Paddling.

    • Desiree Fourie

      Thanks! Just figured it out too. Was a really easy adjustment to make but you are right. Not an intuitive menu! That said… I’m loving the watch!

  57. Benny

    Thanks for the very! detailed review.
    I have a new 735XT and have a weird bug I can’t find a solution anywhere on the net.
    All of a sudden the watch display changes the leftmost hour digit from 1 to 2.
    For example if the time now is 10:08 AM the clock will show 20:08.
    If the time now is 18:38 the clock will show 28:38.
    The attached photo was taken at 10:48 in the morning today.
    I’ve tried manual and auto time setting, GPS reconnecting, update of software via Garmin Express…
    Can you please help. This drives me crazy.
    Many thanks,

    • I’d give it a swift kick by doing a soft reset. It looks to me like somehow it’s showing you the wrong timezone. I’ve actually never seen that before (ever) on a Garmin watch. Interesting bug.

  58. Is the absence of MoveIQ already fixed with a firmware upgrade ? Or is this feature still not available on the Forrunner 735XT

  59. Jan

    Ray, will the Garmin FR735XT still record data mid-race when connected to a USB charging battery pack? Want to know if this is an option to extend the battery life of the watch during race events.

  60. Trent Bauserman

    Since the scosche rhythm offers hrv/rr data does that mean it offers the capability of lactate threshold when paired to the 735xt? I don’t like the feel of the Garmin cheststrap and I am looking for an alternative.

  61. Jonas Ericsson

    Awesome review, thanks!

  62. Alex

    Hi Ray, if the 735 is used with hrm 4 while running on a treadmill, is the cadence/ pace calculated from the accelerometer in the watch or the chest strap?
    Thanks and merry Christmas

  63. John

    Got the 735XT after reading positive reviews including by DCrainmaker. Its lap swim functionality is far below anything else I have used (finis swimsense, pebble). It inserts many phantom laps. Cannot recognize backstroke (confuses it with breast or free). Not uncommon for a 500 free to be registered as 650 or more. In my typical 3200-3300 workout, anywhere from 3700-4000 are registered. Garmin needs to work on its swim algorithms.

  64. RET4591

    Is there a Barometric Altimeter sensor available that could broadcast in bluetooth / ant +? Would Garmin et. al. have to write software to receive this data and overwrite the GPS elevation data?

    • Nico

      Looking for the same thing. Could broadcast temperature as well (as temp must ne taken into account for accurate pressure)…

  65. James Smith

    One thing I don’t see in most of the reviews is wrist sizing for the straps. I had moved up to the 920XT because of the length of the straps. I have an 8 inch bony wrist and most running watches don’t fit, or just barley fix using the last notch or two, giving no room for the strap tab to held down after the buckle. 1) can someone give a strap length of the watch laid out in comparison to the 920XT?

    And Ray, I know it’s another data field, but it would be really helpful to have this info in the comparison charts and reviews. Being 6′ 4″, low body fat, still have a large wrist. The 630 just doesn’t work and it’s why I’m pretty much stuck with using a 920XT for now.

    Thanks for your time and great reviews.

    • Stuart

      From the very end of the buckle (where the strap will sit if it’s under full tension) to the very last notch at the other end, it measures 24.2cm. The 25.3cm figure Carlos gave you is from the absolute ends; the band will not hold at that distance.

      You MIGHT be able to use the 920XT extender strap to get a longer net strap length, but you’ll have to check that with Garmin. I’ve not been able to find any extender straps for the 735XT with a quick search.

    • matth

      i just got back from a snowboarding trip in japan, and wanted to use my 735xt on the outside of my ski jacket – that is a pretty big wrist

      So by using the extension watch strap from my old 910xt that worked just fine. It was a tight fit getting the extension strap to fit, but that reassured me that it wouldn’t come apart.

      And i know that the 735xt doesn’t have a dedicated ski / snowboarding mode, but it was great to see my speed and the distance covered (including the lifts, but I can live with that)

  66. Prakash

    What should be the navigation setting Garmin taiwan or gramin europe ? or garmin for 735xt for the indian region

  67. Carlos Nobrega

    I received my 735XT today.
    Does the watch have any option to only turn on the optical HR SENSOR just for some workouts?

    • James Smith

      Carlos, can you measure your new 735XT from end to end on the strap? For example from the tip of the buckle to the end of the strap on the other end. I’m trying to find out if the strap would be long enough for my wrist. For example, the FR620 strip does not fit my wrist, but the FR920XT does since it has a longer strap.

      I can not find any info on this or even the wrist sizing range, like Garmin does for their fitness trackers.

      Thanks Mate.

    • Carlos Nobrega

      James Smith, is 25.3 cm

    • James Smith

      Thanks mate, that helps a lot. In comparison, the Garmin Vivosmart HR regular strap is 13.6 to 18.7 cm and the x-large strap (which I had to get) is 18 to 22.4 cm and I have 5.7 cm after adjustment. This gives me a better feeling that it would fit. My wife has a FR 620 and I’m would have to use the very maximum size.

      Thanks again mate.

  68. Justin Kaplan

    My 735xt won’t broadcast hr to TrainerRoad or wahoo elemnt, I have turned on broadcast auto on the watch. Any suggestions?

  69. Peter

    Very briefly, would you suggest this or the fenix 3 hr. I’m looking to replace my vivoactive as I have started doing triathlons and really want the multi sport feature. My only concern with the fenix 3 is the weight. Is it really noticeable on the wrist or do you quickly become used to it. Thanks.

    • Mark Young

      I have had all three – started with Vivoactive HR. Tried the 735 but right after I bought it the Fenix 3HR went on sale and was cheaper – liked the looks of it better but holy cow is that a beast. My first run I did over 8 miles it actually chafed my wrist – could have been too loose (below 30 at night so cold), but i REALLY noticed it was on my wrist all the time. I went back to the 735 and don’t regret it at all. I don’t even know it is there and I can wear any dress shirt for work w/out it getting caught up.

    • James

      Mark, after having tried all three, may I ask what size wrist do you have? Mine measure out to 8.25 and 8.7 inches each. I have a Vivoactive HR that I had to order the XL (have about 2.5 inches after the buckle fastens). The regular was just too short of a strap. I’ve been using an FR 920XT for my workouts over the last two years. I liked the length of the strap. My wife has an FR 620, it I have to use the last hole or two just to wear it.

    • kevin

      I came from FR225 (6x gram).

      Fenix 3 hr (9x gram) is really noticeable for me. I borrowed a Fenix 3 HR from a fellow and ran around 13km with it and it felt like there was “something on your wrist” especially when you pump your arms during run, but not anything “un-bare-able”. Just like if you wear a Seiko 5 automatic mechanical while you run. I worn it snag, no chafting.

      735XT (at 4x gram) needless to say is feather weight.

      As a short Asian at 163cm, my wrist is on the small side.

  70. Carlos Nobrega

    How to disable auto-lap in workouts (run)?

    • Roger

      Click the top right button, choose run, click the bottom left button (down arrow), you enter Activity Settings, click top right button, click bottom left button twice to scroll down to Laps, click top right button again and then again to switch on/off auto lap.

    • Carlos Nobrega

      I mean in structured workout 😉

    • Roger

      Not sure I follow…you mean in interval workouts? You have to go through the same process:
      Run>Activity Setting>Laps on/off

      When you set to “off” it won’t register during your interval workouts leaving only the intervals you have chosen to work automatically.

      I have mine set to 1km autolap but when I do say 8 x 800’s with 2 min recoveries and a 20min warm-up, the autolap still triggers during the warm up but as soon as the intervals start, it doesn’t figure because the intervals are shorter than the autolap.

      If you don’t want the autolap at all just switch it off.

  71. Andrew Wyatt

    other than a jump in price from $450- $600, what is the difference between the FR735XT with and without the triathlon bundle?

  72. Peter

    Does the FR735xt have average and instant pace

  73. kevin

    Pace, lap pace, average pace are available
    In the connect IQ race screen app, you can even have x sec average pace

  74. Art Agresta

    Is there a stopwatch feature on the 735xt? Can’t seem to find it?

    Thx, Art

  75. Mark

    Has anyone had issue with the wrist turn not activating the backlight? i have had mine for about a month or so and in the past couple days I noticed this so I did a wipe/reset and re-paired the watch but still i have to really whip my wrist now and even then it activates it 50% of the time.

    Not on DND, and of course wrist turn is activated. This is an ongoing issue all time of the day.

    • JC

      Yes. For me the wrist-turn BL activation is pretty much useless. I wish it had the toggle on/off backlight switch function. Does anyone know how to get that?

  76. Reed

    After using the 735xt for over two months I have to say I am incredibly pleased with it. I wear it on a daily basis, except during the night, as I prefer not to have anything on my wrist when sleeping. At the same time, the watch is so light, I barely notice its there.

    The watch appears to be sturdier/more scratch resistant than I initially assumed. I moved houses, did minor renos etc. and it still looks as new.

    I found the HR monitor to be very accurate. I completed a VO2 max test (with oxygen mask etc.) and had an Ambit 2 connected to a heart rate strap on one wrist, and the 735XT on the other. The heart rate readings were basically identical.

    During workouts and runs I never had any hiccups whatsoever thus far.

    One more thing: it came with a two month free trial for Strava premium. While this allows you to use the Live Segment feature, I decided not to renew my premium account. Live segments are fun, but I found them to be distracting after a while (you can easily limit the number of segments that show up, however).

    Depending on individual preferences, I think the 735XT will be able to hold its own even against the Fenix 5. It costs less, weighs (a lot) less, and has very similar features (except for WiFi and altimeter, and a few functions such as golf support). The only thing where in my opinion the Fenix 5 wins is the form factor. Glass and metal outshine plastic any day.

    • gijom

      Great post. Fully in line with your findings and conclusion. I have had the 735XT since its release (Sunnto Ambit Vertical that I returned prior to that) and I find it close to perfect. Hardly any glitch, works as expected. Enjoying the well implemented swim-bike-run features (even for swim but it could be because I basically only do freestyle), the OHR (use the band only when on the bike now), the notifications, the live segments, the long time between charges (the watch never went off as you get plenty of warnings before it’s to late although I train almost every day).
      The one thing I would like to see but maybe I did not look well enough are stats on how I am making progress. Things like how my swim or running speed has evolved over time… Or evolution of HR vs. pace over time.
      Yes I would prefer a non plastic version of it with a truly circular screen, better visibility, higher resolution, nicer looking watch faces, a barometer and maybe I will fall in love with the Fenix 5 or 5S when I get to see them in real life.. but I am not convinced I will make the move because of the price mostly.
      As for Suunto, I really love their hardware but do not have time to deal with bugs anymore and after using a full-featured Garmin, I kind of lost my loyalty towards the brand.

  77. Dominik

    Hi, anyone of you folks have any assumptions if Garmin plan to launch something to replace 735xt. I assume they dont. This is a pretty new model and completely new watch. It looks like it is made as a complement of Forerunner family. Maybe they’ll launch 920 successor but this is a different line of their products. What do you think ? I want to buy this watch but will be disappointed if new model comes out shortly afer my purchase.
    I really like 735xt, its plastic (yes!) and little weight. I don’t like Fenix line because it tries to look both sporting and smartly (and is much thicker and havier than 735xt). Sorry, if you want to look sleekly put on Omega or Rado alike, not Garmin !

    • Nox

      I have the same fear, I want to buy one but it’s already been out for almost a year and I’m afraid I’ll see a replacement launched right after my window to return it ends.

      Logically I’m assuming the 230/235 and 630 are due for an upgrade cycle first. But even the “cheaper” 735 is a big investment for me (the Fenix 5 is just out of reach) so I’m afraid to pull the trigger and make the purchase.

    • It’s been out only about 8-9 months. Typical Garmin release cycle is 2 years min.

  78. Ric

    I have the idea that the OHR works not so good at colder temperatures. (lower heart rates)
    Are there other users with the same experience?
    Greetings from the Netherlands

    • Maria

      I live in the northern part of Sweden. -20 and no problems with the watch and I don’t even wear it under my jacket.

    • Reed

      Same here in Canada. -20C no problem. Have not used it in colder temps.

    • Ric

      Ok, thanks for your fast replies.
      Than it was coincidence it failed last race during cold circumstances. (My avg HR was 127 by avg speed of 4:13 during 10EM)
      I had earlier a few times the HR will not raise. Than it has to do with my thin wrist or the strap was not tight enough. My wife used it a few times and there it worked fine.

    • kevin


      This is a run I felt cold, it stayed 12x bpm and then after a while it jumped to where it should be:
      link to connect.garmin.com

      And here is a run I was running and wearing not enough, and my hand could barely move at the end of the run, the whole time it stayed in 12x-13x bpm
      link to connect.garmin.com

      I am not sure if tightness or the temperature and blood flow has to do with it


    • Generally speaking the issue in cold weather is if your wrist themselves are very cold. For example, you go to the start of a 10K race at near-freezing temps and wear a t-shirt or running singlet. In that case, your wrists will be rather chilly, and as such it impacts bloodflow. It may take 10-20 minutes with simple running until optical HR readings work well.

      Keeping them warm keeps your readings pretty happy though.

    • kevin


      I agree with you. It wasn’t even sub zero here in Hong Kong. So I agree it seems to have to do with the restricted blood flow than the absolute temperature.


    • Ric

      Last week it was again around 0 degrees Celsius.
      With the first interval heart rate did not raise again.
      I have strapped the band one hole tighter and than HR was ok (around 31 minutes).
      See picture.
      Apologies for my english 🙂

  79. Stefan

    I am planning to buy this watch to replace my old 910XT – that one was great.
    But I do fear the battery life for a full Ironman – my time should be around 11-12:30 hours – that looks at least possible for the spec but I would like to find out if there are any people around that time and if the watch did work for such a long time with gps.
    As I have seen you can deactivate the optical heartrate and use a strap – does this really increase battery life during activity?

    • Dave O

      I wonder if anyone had tried doing a power boost on the bike. The watch charges really fast and I have to think you could recover to 100% in 15-20 minutes on the bike portion.

      I don’t know how safe it would be but the clip is really easy to put in and isn’t uncomfortable. If the cable was set up so that it faced forward on the aero bars it would probably work great even if you sat up.

      I’m no iron-man, so I have no need to try it, but I bet it would be practical if someone really wanted to use this on a full.

    • Stefan

      The main problem is that any electronical device, except your watch and a bike computer, is forbidden in a Triathlon and will lead to disqualification.
      You may argue that charging something during triathlon is a risk for anybody but still the regulation for ITU and Ironman and Challenge is clear.

      I am a race official and have never seen anyone charging his watch or computer during competition but I did see lots of competitors using mobile phones with runtastic or strava – I did need to stop them and collect the item (but I did not DSQ them) or even told them at the check-in to T1.

    • Except, the rules don’t actually say that. At least not WTC’s (Ironman’s). I’m too lazy to look at the others.

      Can you point me to the specific line item where it says anything about being illegal to charge mid-race?

      You cannot take phones or cameras or audio devices. Says nothing about charging (again, in WTC’s rules).

  80. Patrick

    Hey Ray, do you think using the re-broadcast function would get 10-15 hours of battery life?

    Lately my HRM strap has been causing crazy itching and wanted to see if optical HR was a solution. 10-15 hours would more than cover a typical weekend ride.

    • I wouldn’t count on 15 hours with optical HR enabled. I think in the 10-12 hour ballpark is the most I’ve seen someone get here with optical/GPS enabled.

      Now, if you’re talking just optical HR and re-broadcasting enabled (no GPS), then yes, I suspect it’ll easily do 15 hours there (GPS is the major battery burner).

    • Stefan

      Do you think it could do 15 hours with the hrm strap and optical hr disabled?

    • Patrick

      Thanks Ray that’s what I was looking for! I had thought that all the functions would be disabled once the broadcast feature was activated? GPS would be off as the Edge 1000 would take care of that.

    • I’m pretty sure the 735XT was one of the watches that added a new mode a bit after release (mostly after my review) that allows you to enable the setting now without blocking everything.

      I don’t have a FR735XT with me at the moment though (travelling).

    • 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

  81. gijom

    Just wanted to share my experience with the community. As mentioned above, I am very happy with the watch which I purchased as soon as it got released. But this week it simply died on me, in the pool. Initially I could not end the workout: The top right button was non-responsive and after a couple of reboots it died. I sent it for repair today. It is under warranty and I am sure I will get a refurbished one. The problem is that it is not very good news in terms of robustness… It probably spent 30 hours under water, that’s it..

  82. Nox

    Ray, do you think the new Training Load feature in the Fenix 5 is likely to roll down to the 735xt?

    Thanks for the incredible reviews.

    • Hard to say.

      If I had to bet, I’d bet no. Only because I think Garmin will otherwise struggle a bit to continue justifying the higher cost of the Fenix series over the 735XT. So this is a differentiator.

      On the other hand, I’d assume someday (months or whenever down the road) a new FR630 variant will be released and I can’t imagine it not including it. And such a watch would likely be cheaper than the FR735XT.

      So…not sure. :-/

  83. Kate

    Do you know anything about zero’ing (calibrating) the P1 pedals with the 735? I can’t find anything anywhere about how to do that. Thank you.

    • roger hughes

      Hi Kate, when you are in the bike bike menu, push the left bottom button to access the menu then go to settings > sensors and accessories > PWR > Calibrate. It will tell you to unclip and then press calibrate. Job done.

  84. Michael

    Is there something special about the red HRM-run chest strap that comes with the FR 735xt if you buy the run bundle, or is it functionally the same as the cheaper, black Garmin premium heart rate monitor (soft strap)? I bought the cheaper black one on Amazon for my old FR 220. Link:

    link to amazon.com

    I’m considering upgrading to the FR 735xt and wonder whether I can use my old chest strap HRM with it.

  85. Philip

    Do you know if there is any new model in the pipe to replace the 735xt, or should I just go ahead and buy the 735xt?

  86. Craig Needham

    Hi Ray. You’re a massive hero of mine. Thanks for the work you do.

    Have just returned Garmin 735XT number 4 to the store. After a few weeks the unit fails (screen goes blank despite full charge and unit never responds thereafter). Sadly Garmin haven’t let me know the findings but I believe them to be at the result of waterproofing. I’m a heavy trainer for ironman.

    I don’t believe myself to be unlucky enough that four unit should could be faulty therefore I put the failures down to wearing the watch on the inside of my wrist. This is an old technique taught to me 20 years ago with the first advent of HRMs at a sport institute.

    My question is that with your product knowledge, would this be a plausible theory? Obviously Garmin will never say as such as the unit is marketed as wsterproof.

    Cheers form down under if you have time.

    • Hmm, it’s certainly plausible. The act of hitting the face of the watch on the water is quite literally the most difficult thing for any watch to deal with. It’s why you can have an immersion rating of 50m or even 100m, but still fail at ‘swimming’. The pressure is immense.

      I haven’t heard of anyone else killing their FR735XT’s at all to be honest, so to kill four in a row seems like you may have found the culprit. And to that same end, I haven’t really heard of many (any) wearing their Garmin’s on the inside of the wrist swimming. Though, some do for running. But obviously no real water there (unless things go horribly wrong).

    • Craig Needham

      Thanks Ray. As always you’re a treasure trove on info.

    • Gijom

      As mentioned somewhere above, mine died while swimming too, after about 85 swim workouts. I take extremely good care of my way ch, never banged it, always worn normally, face up. I charge it on a multi USB hub plugged to outlet (1A max I believe). I am now worried it will die on me every 6 months or so and that repairing will be very costly once out of warranty. The 735XT is rated 50m while the Fenix is rated 100m, I am now afraid to understand what this means 🙁

    • Craig Needham

      Hi Gijom

      Without wanting to stick the knife into Garmin, I’m positive there is an issue with the watch. I hope it’s a dodgy batch??

      It’s standard corporate marketing/PR policy to deny any weakness and protect their brand. Unless there was a critical mass of watch failures, there’s no need for a product recall. I don’t blame them for this as it’s standard business practice. My company would do the same – just the way of the world.

      In Australia we have very strong consumer rights legislation. Unless a product is ‘fit for purpose’, it must be refunded. It’s easily arguable in my case that the concept of this watch didn’t meet the marketing claims. I got a year out of my last garmin (FR 620) and I would expect a heavy user to do the same – nothing is built to last anymore – I use the analogy that it will probably work he same length as the warranty offered.

      I have posted my experience in the Garmin forums for posterity so that anyone else who has a similar waterproof issue can use that as precident to get a resolution.

      Garmin customer service have actually been quite good I have found. The brand is still very credible, although I firmly believe there’s a disconnect between what standard the 735XT is engineered-to and what it’s marketed for.

      All the best and train safely!

    • Daniel

      I’ve used my Fenix 2 on the inside of my wrist for three years now with no issues. I average about 400km of swimming a year.

    • Craig Needham

      Hi Daniel. Thanks very much for that info. Really helps.

    • gijom

      Thanks Craig, I reached the same exact conclusion.
      After all, the 735XT is a repurposed Forerunner 235 which was initially designed as a plastic running watch…
      Hopefully for Garmin not everyone is swimming as much as we do I guess.

    • gijom

      By the way, Ray, you may want to amend this paragraph 🙂

      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.

    • I don’t think he broke the plastic though, but rather than water got inside somehow. Correct?

      The point of that paragraph was around someone actually cracking the plastic somehow.

    • Gijom

      Yes, Ray, you are correct, nothing was broken 🙂

    • Faith

      Same issue with mine. I bought it 7 months ago, used only for running and cycling. No problem after daily showers but I started to continuously vibrate after I swam with it for 5 minutes in the sea. I paid full attention on not pushing the buttons under water but now it’s no longer functioning 🙁 The screen is black, I could manage to see garmin logo on the screen a few times, tried soft and hard reset, tried charging which triggered vibrating with black screen again. Just 5 minutes of use in the water made a triathlon specific watch a rubbish. This is my 5th garmin (305’s battery died, 310xt’s wristband worn out from its connection made it a useless unit for wrist use, 910xt retained water in it and died, 230’s screen cracked superficially with no impact, 735xt probably retained water) and all of them had a problem/died where I had to pay extra for their replacements. Just contacted Garmin US, waiting for their reply. Having read handful complaints in the same topic from other 735xt users, It’s been obviously a water proofing issue of their watches and they haven’t been able to solve it forever. I like garmins’ design, their menu but I wonder if 935/945 are the only watches really made for triathletes or runners who swim? Or should I finally give up on this brand after 5 times of personal frustration (besides my trainees’ garmins fail) over the years?

  87. Dave O

    Is it possible you are overcharging it? This might cause the battery to swell slightly and would probably compromise the seals eventually.

    I think the manual says to only charge it on a computer’s USB. I connected it to my cell phone charger when I first got it and it charged so fast it made me nervous, so I have been charging it from my notebook computer since.

    • Craig Needham

      Thanks for your reply Dave. Great suggestion.

      In trying to get to the bottom of this, I thought this might have been the case also. For the first two watches I was using the official Garmin wall adapter – both lasted about 2 months. I sent the adapter back with the third failed unit and only used the USB charge via computer for fourth.

      Sadly that failed me also.

      Frustratingly, Garmin never revealed to me the findings of the failed units. That would have easily cleared up the issue.

      It’s a shame as the concept of the 735XT is good. I just think it’s not that robust at the end of the day and more suited to a casual athlete.

    • Reed

      In the interest of science, could you buy a Fenix and see if it lasts longer 🙂 The swim-impact theory sounds plausible, but I am wondering if a Fenix would not be as susceptible to damage, as some of the weak links (buttons) are virtually identical with forerrunners except for a tougher frame? Just a thought. Have used my 735 heavily since purchase in October, no issues thus far.

  88. Suzanne

    I love the smart phone notifications on my 735 but the sound options not during activity are only vibrate, tone or tone and vibrate. There is no silent mode. This is somewhat annoying because I sometimes like to wear my watch all day long and it starts vibrating during meetings when I get an email, text or notification. Is there a way to silence notifications without putting into do not disturb mode? I don’t receive notifications in do not disturb mode. My goal is to continue receiving them but in silent mode. Is this possible?

    • kevin

      There is a Do Not Disturb setting, you can set it in setting or via the control widget as well.

    • kevin

      For me when it is in do not disturb mode, it shows there is a message/notification briefly as well as the content of the message and you can still check the message via widget.

  89. Gustavo

    Anyway to keep the move alert off?. I turn it off but if i turn off the watch at night and turn it on in the morning the move alert is on.

    It’s always on when we turn on of the watch, but i think it should keep our configuration.

  90. patate


    I got my 735xt since saturday, I really want to like it but its shame that all of sudden it doesn’t work already! It’s been only 4 days and the screen is black, nothing else, just black.
    I can neither charge nor reset nor anything, I tried everything. It is my first Garmin so I don’t have another charger to try.
    I know I am unlucky but paying this price for a watch that is out of order in less than a week… it is really not worth it.
    I read the forum and other information so I have to contact garmin and pay for the shipping fee.. I can’t even ask for a refund and they may charge me for the battery.

    Anyone has this happened with their 735xt? What did you do to make it work again?
    Thank you for your help.

    I am just a bit mad right now.

    • gijom

      Same symptoms for me but I am convinced mine got some water in…
      Could it be the case (no pun intended) for you too?

    • Craig

      Yes. Went through 4 in six months before getting a full refund. All of mine never responded afterwards – screen black and no response. In my experience they are not very well suited to being used under heavy training load and may have a waterproofing issue.

      Check out the Garmin support forums for more.

      Garmin had no problems refunding me and their support was otherwise great. I’m still a fan of Garmin, just not the 735XT.

    • Craig

      Yes. Went through 4 in six months before getting a full refund. All of mine had same issue : after or during swimming – screen black and no response ever again.

      In my experience (near full time athlete) they are not very well suited to being used under heavy training load and likely have a waterproofing issue.

      You can check out the Garmin support forums for more info.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of Garmin, just not the 735XT.

    • patate

      It is supposed to be waterproof no? You can swim with it with 5ATM.
      I didn’t swim with it, I once rinsed my arm because of the sweat and that’s all.
      What did you do? Did you contact garmin?

    • patate

      I bought the watch with another online store, so I don’t think Garmin will refund me.. I bought this watch since ray maker recommended it.
      Will see what my store will tell.

    • gijom

      Got replaced under warranty by Garmin.

    • patate

      My store may replace my watch with something else of the same price, should I consider taking another 735xt or you recommend something else?

  91. Ric

    I made a course in Garmin connect. When i want to send it to the forerunner i get an error.
    I am from the Netherlands and the Garmin Express is in Dutch so the exact error is also in Dutch.
    It says something like: “Some files can not be send to your device”.
    Anyone an idea.
    I previously did it on the same way and that worked.
    Software and firmware are up to date.
    I also cleared the memory by deleting the history.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Ric

      It was an old course that is probably corrupt that is giving the error.
      The one made in GC is uploaded well.
      It looks like the old course stays in the cue for uploading.
      After a reboot of my Mac it is still in the cue.

    • Ric

      I deleted my device in Garmin Express and added it again.
      Now i am lost the error.

  92. Emili Hernandez

    Is it posible today to enter the manu while doing an activity?
    Like changing the autolap in the middle of a run?
    Thank you!

  93. Emili Hernandez

    Has anyone reading this moved from the FR620 to the FR735?
    I’m in love with my 620, the touch screen works perfect, and I mostly run; I may do one or two triathlons a year, and I’m not sure if the change is worth it…
    Thanks guys…

  94. ben

    How many strava segments can be stored on the watch before transferring to the phone?

    • Reed

      Not sure what the maximum number of stored strava live segments is, but I uploaded dozens and it was way too much. The constant alerts (approaching segment etc etc) became annoying. Now I only upload the live segments I really want to “race”. It is a neat way to plan fartlek workouts (easy pace until you hit the segments at random, then race them).

    • I believe it’s 100 segments.

  95. ben

    And is it possible to store several strava activities on the phone?

  96. Laurel

    Has anyone noticed any cracks in the plastic of the heartrate sensor? I took my watch off yesterday to charge and clean it and noticed it. When I run my fingernail over it, it is definitely on the surface. The sensor still works and there does not appear to be any water intrusion at this time. I’ve contacted Garmin – just curious if anyone has noted this. *I purchased my 735 in August of last year and wear it 24/7.

  97. Alex

    Does anyone else notice their watch gets to 8%, stays there for about 10hrs (gps off) then gets a low battery warning and immediately shuts down.
    I’m wondering if this is a software bug, or something to do with the watch face I use (superb), and I should just live with it. Or is it more likely a battery problem that Garmin should fix?

  98. Pablo Gonzalez

    Hi Ray,

    Quick question. Between the 735xt and a footpod, which one do you think measures pace in a treadmill better?


  99. Marios

    “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.”

    Ray, I believe this has been fixed! I am on version 7.10 and when I am in the middle of a run I can hit the start/stop button, wait until it takes me to pause screen, and then if I scroll all the way down I can access the full activity settings, including auto-lap.

    Note that if you keep the upper-arrow pressed (shortcut) during a run, you don’t get the full settings page. You might want to edit your review after you verify that the above works for you too.

  100. Colin Clayton

    Hi excellent product review as usual but can you tell me if the metronome function works on the 735xt whilst pool swimming. It does not work on the fenix3 hr model. I really would like a paced vibration at the end of each pool length or a vibration when I have done the distance I want. Hate counting laps while concentrating on swimming form.

  101. kevin

    About pool swimming. If you pressed lap button it will create something they call an “interval” in the final workout file. The “interval” seems to be an equivalent of “laps” in running or cycling. Anyone know how to configure an “auto interval” every 1 or few pool lengths? I don’t want to press lap manually all the time and 1 big workout file with only 1 interval with 1 distance and time is not very useful.

  102. Chris

    Ha – Thanks! Explains why I can’t find a good HUD for running 🙂

    “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.”

  103. Simon.noz

    Hi Ray
    Brilliant review thanks.
    Just going to use for swimming, indoor cycling and running. Would you buy this or a Fenix 5 at end of March?

  104. Josh

    Does this or does it not have a hiking mode? Garmin’s website says it does but I’ve seen posts saying it doesn’t.

  105. Jennifer

    Thank you for the great write up. After this review and the vivoactive HR I am thinking I should go back the the vivoactive hr. I am doing my first tri in a few weeks and it almost seems like the 735xt is maybe too much for me. I like the way it looks much better than the vivoactive Hr. I am just learning about racing and how the watch works, but now I think I maybe over my head. What are your opinions between the two watches?

    • Mark

      Not to jump in if you are asking a direct question but I have owned both and if the Vivoactive did not have the odd feel and look I would have stuck with it. I only do swim and run so I am not using it for the true intended purpose. I love the advanced metrics of the running that both provide. What convinced me to go with the 735?:
      1. Look – I wear it all day everyday and love the look of the 735 over the VAHR
      2. Advanced running metrics – I could be off here but the VO2max, intervals, etc…are not available for the VAHR.

      I do miss the golf :), and the price tag.

    • Jennifer

      Thank you for reply! That is how I feel about the 735xt. I just love the feel and look of it over the VAHR. I also like the ease of the VAHR. I guess I just need to use the menus more and get use to going back and forth with the training aspects. I do like the look and feel of the 735xt more. Again thank you!

  106. Miles Beach

    Ray: There is an Garmin ad for the Garmin Forerunner 935 in the latest issue of Triathlete magazine. No info is available on the Garmin site. I see nothing on your site either. None the less, there is a Garmin ad advertising it.

  107. Ben Andrew

    Hi – did you ever test the HR monitor while working out at the gym? I have had very poor results (it shows a HR of ~70 the whole time which is wrong), but am not sure if it’s my specific watch that is malfunctioning or a design flaw. Thanks!

  108. Cyan

    Hello DcRainMaker,
    I have recently noticed the optically HR monitor on my Garmin Forerunner 735xt is still reading heart rate values around 80bpm even when I’m not wearing it and no strap is connected.
    The watch is sitting on the bed face up and the optical sensor is literally blocked.
    It still reads heart rate values changing and updating around the mentioned value basically no matter is worn or not. Holding it up in the air, me wearing it, sitting on the desk etc.
    I can tell the heart rate sensor is working though since it shoots up when I’m wearing the watch and doing sports.
    Is this normal?

  109. Ric

    Anyone experience with reading fit files from the 24hr heart rate reading?
    I just want to view the heart rates because it was loosing connection while broadcasting the HR to my Garmin Edge 810.
    I tried them to upload to strava, velohero but both no succes.
    Greetings from the Netherlands,

  110. Simon.noz

    Hi Ray / anyone in the know and cares to answer.

    Is this still a viable product worth buying? I want to upgrade from an old FR220, also want to progress to half ironman. Will the 735 be supported by Garmin as far as updates etc? I’m not rich but would pay if the watch will last me a long time, 5 years or so. As far as can see it’s either:
    Fenix 5
    Would really welcome some advice.

    • Reed

      I bought my 735XT on November 10, 2016 and have been using it on a daily basis since. I love this watch. Before that, I was using the Garmin 610 since early 2012 (!). Speaking from a Canadian perspective, the pricing of the 735 is relatively high though. I bought it full price for 599 CAD. The 935 costs 679 CAD in Canada. So it does not really make sense to buy the 735xt now in my opinion.

      However, if I needed a new watch now and did not have the 735xt already, here is what I would do: I would try and buy a used 735xt. There are a lot of people who want to upgrade to the 935 or Fenix 5 models. The 735 only came out not even a year ago, so whoever sells it cannot have used it that much or that long. So you will be able to get many years of usage out of the watch at a great price.

      Would I upgrade myself? I am reading DC’s reviews with great interest, but the 735 is anything I could ask for and more. I would probably enjoy a better screen resolution on the 935, but other than that my usage of the watch would be exactly the same. I’ll revisit the discussion in two years time when the Fenix 6 rolls around.

      Summary: I recommend finding a used 735xt.


    • Reed

      Also, if Garmin decides to drop the price of the 735 by 25% or so, then all of a sudden it would be a great option for a brand new watch again.

    • Simon.noz

      Thanks Reed

    • Johnnyboy

      The used Fenix 3 HR is selling at the same price as a used 735xt on Ebay. I don’t get it.

      My problem with the 735xt is it looks like a plastic watch. I wouldn’t wear it to work or social gatherings. Which reduces the utility I get from it.

      And Simon, the negative reviews on the Garmin Connect mobile app are all true. And they’re still happening.

    • Mark Young

      Don’t want to hijack anything but if you are looking to get a well taken care of 735, let me know and we can take it offline.

    • Muanis

      It just went into promotion look at the sales, it’s 314 now.

  111. Mark Young

    I have a 1/2 this weekend, relatively small in terms of size – roughly 3,000 participants, would turning GLONASS on assist in situations like this? I know that with so many GPS devices on it can get confusing, wasn’t sure if GLONASS would help or not…..

    • Stuart

      You’re getting confused.

      GPS and GLONASS are navigation systems. Satellites broadcast a signal, continuously; by correlating the signals from multiple satellites, a device can determine its location. Running GPS and GLONASS together allows a faster and more accurate fix than by using just one or the other on its own.

      And the number of devices around does not affect GPS or GLONASS results – the device receives the signal, it doesn’t respond interactively to the satellites.

      Fitness sensors, on the other hand – speed, cadence, power, heart rate, etc. – they’re constantly transmitting, and too many in too small a space might cause issues. But as long as you’ve paired all your devices ahead of time, away from other sensors of the same type, you should be fine; these are low powered devices, so interference is unlikely, even with a large field (unless the entire field happens to be crammed together in a very small space, in which case all bets are off.)

    • Mark Young

      Ahhh, thank you kind sir! I appreciate your help, Indeed I was a bit confused.

  112. Pam

    I bought my 735 3 weeks ago after upgrading the 920
    I swam this am with it fine , saved the data , showered then the screen went blank.
    Re settled it and that was the screen I got in the pic , it made a high pitched noise, auto scrolled like something possessed, then switched it self off again! This kept repeating every time I re set the damn thing!
    Rang Garmin and they couldn’t give any answers but to send the watch back!
    I’m now 2 wks away from my 1 st race of the season without a watch I paid £350 for!! Not happy one bit!! ????

    • That’s definitely really weird. Never seen that before. Looks like some sort of hardware malfunction or breakage (i.e. dropped on concrete and then water ingest – potentially not even the same date).

      One thing that Garmin can do is a ‘cross-ship’, which means they’ll ship you a unit before you ship them yours. They’ll hold a credit card on file until they receive yours. But it’s ideal in cases like this. Given Garmin has a major UK service office, it should only take a day or two to get to you.

    • gijom

      Hello Pam, symptoms are definitely similar to the ones I had when mine went out of order too (see my posts above).
      This watch is definitely not water tight.
      It is graded 50M like the Forerunner 935.
      Ray, did you hear from Garmin about the 50M vs. 100M grade?
      Would you be willing to sacrifice, let’s say the 935, and test it in your waterproofing chamber? 😉

  113. Pam

    I never have dropped the watch so couldn’t understand why it suddenly went mad!
    I’ve took it back to the shop and they are sending it back
    I’ve find an old polar to wear to train but I’m sure no other consumer goods purchased would allow this to happen? You would get a straight replacement.
    Plus spending such amounts of money it’s not acceptable things should be going wrong. My partner has a Fenix 3 and the altermeter hasn’t worked since last November, all garmin keep telling him is they are fixing it!! They won’t send him a replacement or money back !!

  114. Bryant Nachtigall

    Epic review man.

    In the market for a new tri watch because my old Timex Ironman bonked out on me.

    Do you think its worth waiting for the new 935? Debating weather or not the new feature are worth it…

  115. Mark Young

    HELP! I just arrived in a Chesapeake, VA for a 1/2 marathon and panicked when I realized I had not charged my watch in a while – I looked and it is at 21%. I immediately powered it down. Anyone have a clue if 20% will get me an hour and 45 minutes (sorry old and slow).

    There is a Best Buy down the road may see if they have one open I could borrow.

    • Stuart

      Well, for what it’s worth: 6:16 in a half Ironman got my 735XT down to about 50% (if I remember rightly) charge.

      20% is lower than I’d be comfortable with – I’d be looking to get it charged if possible – but you SHOULD be okay. Hopefully.

    • If it’s not too late, a Best Buy would definitely have a charger in the Garmin section. It shares the charger with the FR35 too – so that is definitely in all Best Buy’s. Most have a hands-on section that’s permanently powered on.

  116. Amico

    Anyone updated to 7.20? What’s your experience? Some people at Garmin forum reported low heart rate readings from optical HR sensor, which is strange as there is no mention of updates to this element.
    I holding off with this update as my marathon debut is coming next Sunday.

    • Ric

      I have 7.20 and so far no issues.
      The only thing is that the HR is not fast reacting. But that is already from the beginning.
      Good luck with the marathon.

  117. Andrew

    Hi I have the 735xt and am trying to improve my sleep tracking. Do you know from your reviews if it has a sleep mode? From what i read it sounds like the 235 and 920 do so im assuming it probably does but i haven’t been able to confirm it. Alternatively I’m looking for an app that i can connect the 735 to in order to get better tracking than the Garmin connect app. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

  118. Roger Hughes

    Recently my 735 has been freezing when I am charging it from my computer. I plug in the charger and the watch shows as charging but it is not recognised in finder to enable me to eject it. So after just taking the charger off, the watch face continues to show that it is still in USB mode and will not respond to any button press. I have to reboot the watch whereafter it goes back to the last time I synced after training and then I have to go through the process again.
    This usually happens when I am uploading workouts….
    Anyone else have this problem?

    • Martijn

      @Roger Hughes, yes i have sometime the sameproblem since a few weeks. after charing it freezes totaly.

      since this happened the build in HR is also not correct anymore, when I put of my 735XT is still dectecs a hartrate strange enough. and also when I am running it looks like the hartrate is not correct, in some cases it felt like I as runnign in zone 5, the garmin says I was in my warming-up.

      I also have a lot of problems with the signal of my Stages powermeter which I bought recently.
      the ant+ signal is not stable.
      only when I have it very nearby the powermeter it is ok, but above 100cm from my stages he loses the signal.

      Does somebody has beter experience with the combination of the Garmin 735xt and Stages?

    • Geffrey

      Did you ever get a resolution to this? I just got the watch, but have the same issue. Connects to radar and external HR just fine, but stages it needs to be right next to it.

  119. likepend1

    Why is my Adidas Speed Cell “BLUETOOTH SMART” FootPod (G75090) working with my 735XT?

    i thought that only fenix5/5s/5x & 935 are able to connect to BT_smart sensors?

    can anyone verify that? that was spooky today. Put my 2nd pair of running shoes on (with Adidas Footpod attached), and out of the blue after i hit the upper right button “pre-RUN” screen – “peep” – FOOTPOD CONNECTED!

    i didn’t search for it …. what is happening?? it’s also in the sensor pool!! (i can choose Speed source “GPS only”, “always” or “never”).

    and YES, it’s the BT_smart one (not ANT+). Have been using it with my iphone for a year now!

    • In the sensor pool, does it list an ANT+ ID, or a Bluetooth Smart GUID?

    • likepend1

      i disabled BT just to be sure!

      more photos added: link to goo.gl

      is listed as FP, has an ANT+ ID!

      Don’t know what to say. i mean i’m surprised & happy about it … but i don’t unterstand it!

      those sensors are all manufactured by DYNASTREAM (Garmin) right?

    • Indeed, they are (well, were) manufactured by Dynastream.

      Now it’s funny you say this. I can’t remember where/when, but about a year ago someone saw a very similar thing on some other unit. A BT footpod was showing up on their Garmin paired. Neither of us could ever figure it out.

      My bet is that at some point Adidas switched to dual chipsets, and never bothered updating the case. Hence…dual. 😉


    I have a Garmin 235 and am thinking of upgrading to 735. Could you tell me are the face sizes the same? If the 735 is smaller I will not be able to read it as I’m going along!


    • Rie

      Very similar, if not identical. As a 735 uses, I’d say the only reason to upgrade from 235 is if you swim OR need bike sensors to be connected to your watch. Run features almost identical w/ 735

  121. Kira

    Awesome review! I’m debating between the garmin 735xt and the forerunner 235. I really want to know if there are any significant differences between the two in terms of battery life and optical heart rate sensor accuracy?

  122. Jeremie

    Just an FYI for anyone looking, Ebay has 20% coupon for memorial day. picked one up for 259.

  123. Garrett

    Hi! Currently have a 920XT and love it. However, looking at getting a unit with optical heart rate to use for tri training/racing.

    A couple of questions for anyone who has/had both 735XT and Fenix 3 HR:

    1. Is the fit and finish/durability of the 735 a lot lower than the Fenix 3 HR?

    2. Are the few added features (and continue Connect IQ integration) make it a much better unit than the Fenix 3 HR?

    3. Which do you prefer (735 vs. Fenix 3 HR)

    Thanks in advance!

  124. Jack

    Really useful review… But help!!
    I’ve just got the 735xt.
    I’m trying to find a way to load single waypoints on to it from basecamp. The saved locations function on the watch is only useful if initially I’m physically there to save them (I think) but doesn’t help if I want to go to a new place (but not from a known starting place). I installed basecamp, and openstreetmaps, and created a single waypoint, but I don’t seem able to to drag and drop it to the device’s internal storage. The device appears in Basecamp’s navigation panes, but does not appear in the “send to device” list, only in the “receive from device” list. It’s like the watch is readable but not writable. I understand it’s not a mapping watch, but if it can save locations and then direct you to them, isn’t it strange that you have to be there to get those locations on to the watch?

    All the tools seems to be about creating and transferring routes/courses. Single waypoints are really useful to me for lots of reasons.

    Is this not possible on the 735xt and if not, is it possible to do all of this on the Fenix 3? (i.e. load single waypoints). If so, I’ll upgrade!
    New to all this so would really appreciate any advice.

  125. Robert Steib

    Visited Amazon for my 735 (it was actually delivered on Memorial Day!). It’s to replace the 310 but… On the 310 I used the cycling app for everything including running, cutting the lawn, and fitness classes. There were not a lot of choices and it was a lazy way to get kinda sorta accurate data.

    But now the 735 has an app for everything! Haven’t found the one for shoe shining but I’m sure it’s out there. Is there an app to use when the class may have 3 or four laps, pushups, kettlebells, etc?

    If I send $20 can I still get the ads?

    Thanks for all the good info.

  126. Simon Koh

    Hello Ray,

    I saw on your swim workout on Garmin Connect that you can add comments etc, how are you able to do that?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.


  127. David Wright

    Anyone experienced this on the 735?
    In training mode the battery is only lasting 2 hours, I have done 2 full distance at over 15 hours with no issues previously. Any suggestions as I sold my device a few weeks ago when I purchased a 935 and it’s now 3 weeks out of warranty, so will call Garmin and ask their opinion if I don’t get anything helpful here.
    Thanks David

  128. Speedy Gonsales

    Could instant speed be provided based on GPS only measurements (735XT)?

  129. Christian Borchgrevink-Vigeland

    How is the Strava Live segments ahead/behind time calculated? Based on average speed for the time being compared or ACTUAL “correct” behind/ahead?

  130. Danielle

    I finally broke down and bought myself a fabulous 735XT. I was wondering if people find it useful to use a screen protector? Or is it not worth it?


    • Dave O

      With the 735XT having a plastic screen, a screen protector is a must if you are going to wear it outside of training activities, in my opinion. I wear mine 24/7, including yard work and vehicle repair. I’ve had a glass screen protector on since new and it is about due for a replacement. I ordered a 3 pack of the ones below and will be putting #2 on really soon. I hate to think of how my watch face would look if I didn’t have it on.

      link to amazon.com

      Attached is a photo of mine. You can see a lot of damage to the glass screen protector around the edges. I think that is because it is slightly higher than the watch bezel, so it gets the occasional sideways blow that wouldn’t have hit the watch face directly. While I don’t think the watch would show as much damage if it were left un-protected, I have to think at least one of those impacts would have seriously scratched the screen. I also wouldn’t be wearing it while working on our cars, too.

    • Stuart

      Counterpoint: I’ve had my 735XT since August. I wear it almost 24×7 (minus charge time and data transfer), and I’ve done two halves, and two Olympic distance races with it (plus a few runs and open water swims.) No screen protector, and only a couple of scratches that I had to look very closely to find. They aren’t visible in normal use.

    • Danielle

      So much for consensus! Haha!

      Thanks Dave and Stuart!

    • Alex

      I think the glass screen protector actually makes the screen easier to read, especially outside, since it doesn’t get so smudged with fingerprints.

    • Rutlandboy

      I’ve had my 735xt since October 2016 and fitted a tempered glass screensaver very soon after purchase. I wear the watch 24/7 and I agree with other replies to this post that the screen saver makes the screen easier to read and avoids fingerprints (more than the plastic screen does anyway). Just from a peace of mind point of view it’s worth the money, just think how you would feel if you accidentally scratched the face of your pride & joy.

  131. Robert

    On my 735xt the max hr for a workout this morning was 120 bpm. On Garmin Connect Mobile, iphone version it was 161. On Connect.Garmin.com desktop it was 161. Seems like a bug on mobil. Anyone have thoughts or experience? I believe the 735 as it collected the data.

  132. Nicolas

    Hey there,

    Can anyone confirm that “Recovery Heart Rate” feature works OK on this watch, using the Optical HR only ?

    The feature is described here : link to www8.garmin.com

    Thanks !


  133. Thai

    Hi DCR,
    Thanks for your deep review (y)
    My 735xt did not count any meter on pool after 720meter I swam.
    I checked and found out the signal on left top conner of 735xt is not normal. It is red-cross instead and bluetooth sign is blinking.
    Other activities (open water for instance) is normal.
    Have you seen that before?
    Thanks for your reply.
    Have a nice day.

    • Were you in indoor swimming mode? Do you have a link to your Garmin Connect activity for that swim (ensure you click the little unlock icon in the upper right before sharing that activity, else we won’t be able to see it).

  134. Tom Broomfield

    Hi Ray,

    Great review. I’ve had my 735xt since October now and recently purchased the powertap P1S pedals. However during the bike leg of a triathlon the 735 failed to connect to the pedals. I checked the connection before the race they were connecting fine. Did you ever find a reason as to why you saw the same in the bugs part of the review? Anything to check?


  135. Pam Batchelor

    My 3 month old 735XT the watch face screen actually fell out and was dangling by its chip! I was driving to Austria to race Ironman and was gutted when I looked down and saw it hanging by a thread! Called GARMIN as I drive across Europe, but no joy, tried to get a replacement in Austria but not unless I bought a new one !!
    The rubber seal had actually perished!! It’s a triathlon watch for gods sake and can’t with stand open water swimming !
    This is a replacement for the original one that went mental when I finished swimming in the pool!! It’s not water tight !!!!!
    I’ve sent it off for another one (3rd one in 5 months) after spending nearly £400 Sterling it’s not a very good advertisement for me to recommended GARMIN 735XT to anyone !!

  136. Ben

    My 735XT has a bug on the strava live (favorite segments).
    I removed all favorites, but they are still showing up on Strava live. Seems I can add, but not remove on the 735XT. When I run a test on my iphone strava they do not come up.

    Sync over wifi and connected to the computer. Any recommendations?

  137. Pam Batchelor

    I’m awaiting my 3rd 735XT
    But both the 2 previous watches when done pool swim wasn’t water tight and made the display go all gobbledegook and the 2nd watch the seal perished from open water swimming and the face fell out !!
    so not impressed !!!
    It needs looking at that’s for sure as I purchased it for a triathlon specific watch , but can’t cope with the swimming aspect !! And I was training for an Ironman.
    Had to borrow my friends 920 to race with and the bloody swim didn’t register !! Only showed 850yrs not 3.8k ???

    • Happy Runner

      From reading the review, the Varia radar appears visually on the 735xt and has a chirp/buzz.
      The features for the 735xt indicate that vibration alerts are supported.

      So does 1+1 = 2 ?

      Can the 735xt vibrate when the Varia radar detects a vehicle?

  138. Happy Runner

    From reading the review, the Varia radar appears visually on the 735xt and has a chirp/buzz.
    The features for the 735xt indicate that vibration alerts are supported.

    So does 1+1 = 2 ?

    Can the 735xt vibrate when the Varia radar detects a vehicle?

  139. Adrian

    Hi, I just got the 735 (previously using iPhone7+ and Apple Watch 2 with Nike+ app. First run last night but a little concerned that over 10km the New Garmin gave me a time of 55.53 and my iPhone says 54.48. Also the Garmin kept pinging later and later over the km’s.

    Is the GPS signal that bad with the watch over the phone?? Would obviously prefer accurate times.

    Thank you.

  140. Jason

    As I commented before, I REALLY appreciate your well designed and executed reviews. I just received this unit, the 735XT, as a gift. Reading your blog helps far more than plowing through the clutter of the microscopic “users manual” that Garmin wastes paper on. (their online user manual is all thats needed and far easier to see in large font).

    As for donating to your blog, its on my list. You’re help is worth it.

    I’m not built for running, actually, and I only just finished my first certified HALF Marathon. But its a multi-sport watch and so it will come in useful. Thanks again for your blog. (Amusingly, I tried to watch a Youtube video on its function and the maker was an Italian. Well meaning, but, uh, if you don’t speak Italian…. ).

  141. Dannybilo

    Does anyone know if you can connect the 735xt to a Watt bike to get all of the sensor information available?

  142. mark collinson

    Thank you Ray and all commenters.
    Ive been the very happy user of fr735xt for more than 12 months now.
    However, I need to know if I can get a widget to track my weekly time goals. Ive looked and cant find one.
    I can set a goal on gc web. and view goal. but cannot seem to find a way to view progress on either the watch or the gc mobile app.
    Is it possible to view total minutes/hours over 3 activities (swim bike run) on a per week basis, (without having to use garmin connect web)

    thanks all


    • Stuart

      Try the following.

      From the main watch face, press “Start/Stop” (to enter activity mode).
      Press “down” (to access the menu).
      Scroll down to “History”. Choose it.
      Choose “Totals”.
      Choose the activity type (swim/bike/run).
      Choose “weekly”.

      Note that weekly totals are Sunday to Saturday; I don’t know (offhand) if that can be changed.

  143. Christian Borchgrevink-Vigeland

    I have bought the watch without HR monitor bundle. Will be used for running mostly. Can I use ordinary Garmin ANT+ HR strap, or only the specialised ones for this watch?

  144. Daniel Thursfield

    Does the 735XT give vo2max for running without the HR Strap? I read somewhere that the Forerunner 235 does. Reason I’m asking is that I found a deal on the 735XT, that puts it at the same price as the 235. Using the Forerunner 25 as my daily driver. I do have the Forerunner 220 as well, but I enjoy the daily activity tracking of the 25.

    Looking for an upgrade though and would love the vo2Max reading for runs.

    • rsteib

      The owner’s manual says on page 6: “These physiological measurements require wrist-based heart rate or a compatible heart rate monitor.” Sounds like the chest strap is not needed BUT Ray points out the optical HR doesn’t work so well in bright sun.

      From my own experience the Garmin chest strap works for running but the CycleOps does not. The CycleOps does work when on the bike and gives power as well.

  145. Nick Bolding


    I love your reviews – they are my ‘go to’ for an unbiased, well-informed opinion about new sports gizmos and I always point people to your site when they ask me about gear…

    Anyway, I have a Garmin 735xt which I love as I just started doing triathlons this year.

    i have a question I hope you can answer – is there a way to get it to record cadence when in multisport mode? I have a Wahoo RPM cadence sensor which works great when the watch is in ‘Bike’ mode but for some reason when I switch to the bike segment in multisport>triathlon it doesn’t seem to pick up the cadence, which is kind of a PITA as this would be really useful in my post race review…

    The usual Googling doesn’t seem to turn anything up so I was hoping your ‘Garmin-fu’ could help me out!

    Many thanks!


  146. Melissa D

    I see in your review that it has intervals. Does it have two interval settings? For example run/walk interval training with a 5 minute run followed by a 1 minute walk?

  147. Hello, i just bought the watch, can someone recommend a glas or something to keep the galss safe?

    thank you 🙂

  148. Karl

    The side-by-side comparison at the end of this review states that FR735XT does do Strava Live Segments. The same as per the Garmin website.

    However, the side-by-side on link to clevertraining.com, which I thought was a simple copy of this review, states that FR735 is not Strava Live Segments capable. Moreover, the FR935 review lists Strava Live Segments as one of the improvements over the FR735XT.

    I am confused!

  149. Ruth Grint

    I have had 2 735s now, both of which I use for triathlon training.Both I have had to return to Garmin.Both started randomly scrolling thru screens so I couldn’t even pause them to reset and the second one the second button on the left side became stuck so wouldn’t work.
    Have you had any reported problems?
    Have to say I’m not impressed that its happened twice is the suunto any more robust?

    • hey,
      i own a Ambit 1st gen. for a few years now. I bought just seconds after Ray postet that ANT ist supportetd nor 🙂

      It ist pretty solid, but the customer care sucks. Also old products aren´t supportetd any more very quickly.
      If that´s not a problem i can recommend!

      The Battery still works great, just the cable to transfer the data had to be replaced 3 weeks ago.

      I did 1600 Moves since December 2012 with it. From Run, Inliner, Swim, Bike, Paragliding, Base, snorkeling, indoor stuff, climbing.

      Is there way to Get a Taotal Summary on Movescount?

  150. Jenno

    Since my Garmin 910XT is dying slowly, I’m considering buying a new multisport watch. I prefer Garmin and I am doubting between the 735XT and 920XT. I’m really not sure which one to choose. I’m probably not competing in any Iron-distance race in the coming years (but never say never).

    Problem, in my eyes, with both watches is, that they are not the most recent ones. Or is that something I should not see as I disadvantage.

    Is Garmin releasing a similar watch in the same price range in the near future? I think the 935 is to expensive (for the times I’m using it)

    • I wouldn’t expect any replacement for the FR735XT near term.

    • EricS

      Hi Ray,

      I’m in a similar boat as Jenno. However, my 910xt is working just fine – just thinking of an upgrade. I know you mentioned in this post about a year ago that you didn’t foresee anything new coming down the pipe but was curious if that was still the case today? Thanks again for your posts! Really enjoy the reads!

  151. TS KIM

    Your review is very in detail. I very like it.

  152. Amy J

    Not sure if this is the right forum, but since this is watch I own, I thought I’d start here. As I’m sure we all experience, my watch occasionally counts additional laps in the Pool Swim mode (something about waving my hand around in a weird way) and I seem to remember being able to edit the specific pool lengths in garminconnect last fall, but went to try recently and it looked like that capability had been disabled. Am I imagining things or was this capability taken away?

  153. Ming Ming

    Hi everyone,

    Want to give a quick update on battery life for those wondering.

    Did a full Ironman in Frankfurt last July. Had the watch connected to the charger and only turned it one before start of swim. Following settings and devices connected:
    BT on
    Garmin speed and cadence sensor connected
    HRM tri connected (full race)
    GPS + glonass enabled

    This resulted in the watch powering down in the last lap of running ?. Stopped at about 9:45 hours. Managed to reboot it during running to log an additional 5 minutes, until it dropped out again. Finished at 10:00:33, so it came short about 10 to 15 minutes.

    Next strategy would be to turn off glonass or to upgrade to FR 935. Anyone else tried a full IM with cadence and speed sensors inclusief HRM Tri?

  154. Chris

    I bought mine 2 days ago in Germany for round 320 Euros with HRM run strap (bundle Version). There was sale plus 20% discount because of anniversary of the shop. Seems to be a good deal 🙂

  155. Nick Empey

    Great review!

    I have been looking at getting a garmin for a couple of months now. I had previously only looked at the 230/235 but with the recent price drop to $350 I have been reading up on this model. I have a $150 in store credit to a retailer that sells this watch, so would $200 for this 735xt be worth it if this watch has already been out for 1.5 years? I don’t necessarily want to buy the watch if it will be outdated in a year or year and a half.

    Would really appreciate your thoughts.


    • Dave O

      I’ve had mine for almost a year. I don’t regret it at all.

      $200 is a steal. I use it to do light training 3-6 days a week. The battery lasts for days. It will be worth $200 for years. If something comes out in a couple of years that has what you need, you could probably sell it for most of what you paid for it.

  156. Patricio

    Hola ray is possible to create custome alarms like nutrition alarm or when to drink water during running?
    Best regards

  157. Mike Schauer

    When walking in Run mode why does distance keep accumulating when I stop for a while?

  158. Julia Elizondo

    Thorough review thank you

  159. Michal

    Ray, are you predicting an update to the 735 in the future?
    Can you tell me the main differences between 935 and 735 that would justify paying 200 dollars more (In Poland)?

  160. Johannes

    Are there any informations on the sampling rate of the optical hear rate sensor? Do they record it every second?

  161. Chris

    Huge deal today on amazon.de for Garmin 735XT. 244 Euros….

  162. Li Haibo

    Hi, can anyone let me know if FR735 has the heart zone lock feature.
    I remember in some of the polar products, and they have this feature. You can lock the specific heart rate zone, and when your heart rate is above or low than this range, the watch will vibrate or beep.
    I want to know if Garmin;s FR735 has this feature or not?
    If not, which Garmin heart rate watch has this feature?

    Thanks a lot!

  163. Tony Nys

    I was very happy when I bought my forerunner 735xt last year with wiggle.co.uk
    Now it is broken (bluetooth fails, recording fails, even sync with cable fails ; reset didnt help)

    Since it is only 15months old, It should be covered under the european 2year electronics warranty law.
    When I contact wiggle, they say to contact Garmin, since they only cover 12 months warranty.
    When I check Garmin, they say to contact the retailer, so wiggle.co.uk.
    If you read the law, it clearly says the retailer (even online) should take it back

    what is your experience ?
    Why is Wiggle being so difficult ?

    No it is a 300+euro piece which just acts as a stupid watch

    This is the 4th time a Garmin device breaks after 1 year of usage 🙁

    • Chris

      It is really strange but for example in german instruction it says that warranty is only for 1 year, whereas in polish instruction there are 2 years. I think that it is due to internal country’s law no EU.

    • I honestly don’t know the EU law well enough as to who’s issue it is to take back, but I’m not sure if returns are covered under the EU law, or just ‘fixes’.

      Either way, I do know it’s 2 years, and Germany is most certainly part of that.

    • tony nys

      yes definitely, 2 years is the minimum and every european country can deviate from that but only have it longer, so eg 3 years but not shorter

    • Chris

      Following link: link to static.garmin.com

      What polish instruction says:
      “Zakres Gwarancji:
      Niniejsza gwarancja stanowi, że zakupiony produkt Garmin będzie wolny od wszelkich wad produkcyjnych i materiałowych przez okres dwóch lat od daty zakupu”

      2 years of warranty.

      What german instruction says:
      “Für nicht für die Luftfahrt vorgesehenen Produkte gilt ab dem Kaufdatum eine einjährige Garantie auf Material- und Verarbeitungsfehler. Innerhalb dieses Zeitraums repariert oder ersetzt Garmin nach eigenem Ermessen alle bei ordnungsgemäßer Verwendung ausgefallenen Komponenten. ”

      1 year of warranty.


      So this is definitely 2 years for Germany.

    • Ernest Asensio Blasco

      Each country has their own warranty length. For example in Spain there is a 2 year warranty but in IRL only one…. that said, i believe there’s a European law which forces all retailers to provide a 2 year warranty cover with ALL electronic devices… I actually, remember googling it at the time when I had an issue with one of my garmin devices and I contacted them and I didn’t give them any chance to move away from it, so they adhered to that 2-year warranty (though I live in IRL) and they replaced my watch at the time.

  164. Jennifer

    I’m looking at purchasing either the Forerunner 920xt or the forerunner 735xt. Which one would you recommend? I’m planning on doing a half Ironman in Oct of 2017 and I have a full Ironman on my bucket list. I’ve completed a half Ironman in about 5:45.

    • Ernest Asensio Blasco

      I’d go for the 920xt…. I had the 920xt and I only changed it to the 735xt as it had a more day-to-day look, had the HR, etc…. but the battery difference is HUGE… I really like my 735xt but I have to say that I do miss my 920xt… if you’re doing the half in just under 6hrs, the 735xt will certainly won’t last you for the entire full IM…. unless you’re planning on doing a massive negative split 😉

      … obviously, the above comment is with HR function switched off…. if you have it on, then the battery lasts even less.

      I am the opposite to you, I have moved from the long distance to the short so the battery is ok but I’m thinking on doing IM again in 2020 and although I would be chasing a 9h-9:30 IM finish, I would first change my watch.

      If you really like the 735xt look much better though, then you have 2 options:
      1) check out the 935xt… it’s a mix of the two of them…. longer battery but similar look than the 735xt.
      2) monitor the bike with another garmin device (such as the Edge 520) and then simply use the 735xt to track the swim and run… the only annoying thing is that you’ll need to switch on and off the 735xt during transition… and sometimes the 735xt takes ages to get the GPS signal.

      anyway, I hope I answered your question.

  165. Amy J

    I’ve been using the structured swim workouts pretty regularly now, and recently added in drills. My understanding is that when you include in your workout a drill set (swim 50 m drill with kickboard for example) it should automatically default to drill mode, and assume you swam the proper distance for that set once you hit the lap button at the end of the set. Is this true? Mine has been showing 0m for all of my drill sets. Is this what is supposed to happen? I feel like this is an issue, but despite many hours of googling i have yet to come up with an answer. Thanks!

    • MrZigi

      Dear Amy,
      I don’t remember how drills exactly work in structured workout but I think it might depend how you setup breaks beetwen drillls. In regular swim repeats (e.g. freestyle) you don’t press Lap Button. The unit will go to Rest and next interval automaticaly. And if you press Lap Button it actually will skip to the next step (rest or repeat) immediately.
      When you use the unit w/o workout (the way I used it most recently) drills work as follows: while paused you scroll to drill, press Lap Button and start the drill; at the and you press Lap Button again and then the unit promps you for distance you swam.
      If you want to end drill part you simply sroll out from drill screen and press Lap Button to start another part where the unit will recognize distance from your turnover. Anytime you press Lap Button the unit goes to rest mode and you can scroll to Drill screen again.
      Happy swimming,

  166. Sven Sverdling

    I use, at different times, a Garmin chest strap and a CycleOps chest strap that estimates power. Does the heart rate variability used by Firstbeat take place in the chest strap or 735xt? If in the 735xt does the CycleOps chest strap broadcast the heart signal in a way that the 735 can decipher for the Firstbeat algorithms?

  167. Lucy

    The Oreo on the scales made my hour.

  168. Ian

    great review! even two years later i find this to be very helpful! i’m wondering if garmin has come out with any metal/leather bands that look a little more fashionable in everyday life for this model?

  169. Leah

    After using the 735xt for just over a year (so I am now outside the warranty window), the watch starting acting up. The up button is stuck so I can no longer scroll between activities. It also just occasionally beeps a lot and scrolls randomly between a bunch of screens. After an hour with Garmin’s support line, we did a hard reset which fixed the problem for about 48 hours and then it starting acting up again. Garmin will replace it for $110, but it seems like with a 300+ price tag, the product should last more than a year.

  170. Chris


    Any advice on picking up this or the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR (what a mouthful!)? It’s primary use would be running and biking. Other recommendations welcome!

  171. Anthony


    I am curious if anyone (or Ray) has an idea of satellite reception with this watch (or Garmin or other watches in general) in the UK. I currently live in the West Midlands and I just seem to not be able to get reception with my Timex Global Trainer. I have gotten GPS signal once here in the UK on a sunny day but I am keen to know if newer watches are able to find signal/position better than older watches. Also, I do the trick of placing it next to a window while getting ready, which always worked back in Iowa. I don’t mind waiting a few minutes for the signal to acquire but I’m currently getting nothing after several attempts. Darn 50 shades of grey UK weather lol any suggestions appreciated!


    • Paul S.

      GPS, as the name implies, is Global. Coverage should be the same in the West Midlands as it was in Iowa. Last time I was in the UK I used an Edge 705 and had no GPS problems.

      Putting the device near a window may not be enough if the walls surrounding the window are thick enough or laced with metal so that the signal is attenuated, so take it outside. Newer Garmin devices have an onboard satellite ephemeris, which will help it to lock in its position much faster if the ephemeris is kept regularly updated by connecting to a computer running Garmin Express or a phone running Garmin Connect. Watches in general because of their size have a harder time getting good GPS positions because there’s not room for a good antenna and because they don’t keep a fixed orientation to the sky when in use, but they usually work fine in spite of that.

  172. BJ Sorensen

    Due to the GPS elevation issues, does this watch accurately capture mountain bike and trail running activities? My concern is not mid-activity elevation stats, but certainly stats once I’m done. Does it accurately report elevation (beginning elevation, change, etc.) once the activity is done recording?

    • Fuzzynavel

      I think this was answered a couple of times earlier up the comments.

      Essentially the live elevations on the 735XT are hit or miss but when uploading to Garmin Connect/Strava there are corrections applied and the data should be pretty good.

  173. Ronald

    In your review of the 935 there is a picture of three data fields without field titles. Is that also possible on the 735xt? (If not, that would mean a big difference for me!). Thanks, Ronald

    • Fuzzynavel

      I’m sure if you look at the 735XT app you will find something useful.. look here link to apps.garmin.com

      …Just ordered a second hand 735XT today so looking forwards to playing….Hopefully it is a massive upgrade on my trusty (ancient) Forerunner 110 and will also replace my Fitbit. Glad to hear that it should play relatively nicely with my Edge 520 too.

  174. Ric

    I have this unit now exactly 2 years and have been wearing it all the time.
    Generally I am happy with it.
    Still the optical HR reading is for my wrist not satisfactory. Especially when I am doing interval training.
    The delay when getting the higher heart rates is very poor.
    So I started using a strap during intervals.

    Are there experiences the optical HR from the Fenix is better?
    (I saw it is flush with back of the watch while the 735 has another design)

  175. Marta

    Hi all, I have got my forerunner 735 xt watch almost a year ago and enjoying it ever since. I started to do indoor cycling but for some reason my watch does not register my heart rate. It only recognises time of the activity. Any ideas how to set it up?

  176. Ernest Asensio Blasco

    How do you access settings while running? You mention above this has been fixed but I still need to stop the watch to access settings. (eg. change the back-light settings as I switch it off to save battery during my day runs and switch it back on on my night ones). Thank you!

    I *hate* hat 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]

  177. Ash

    Love this site. I’ve been running for some time now, started with TomTom runner multi sport, then Garmin Vivosport HR however the strap broke :-(, Garmin replaced free but a quick search on the internet I found this is a common issue and as you cannot change the bands. I tried the huawei watch 2, good watch lots of cool features but put that to one side, it was not so good at sport, it was slow, hung and annoying when wanting to start or even stop a run. I decided to replace. I loved the Garmin connect app, so decided to to stick with Garmin. I mostly run, swim option is appealing. The 735xt looks perfect and believe its worth spending the little extra from 235 to get the additional features.

    I compared 735xt, Fenix3 hr and Fenix 5, yes there’s some small functionality differences but in he main seems identical, yet 735xt cheaper. Yes the quality is different, but not too worried if its all plastic – I know what I’m like and will probably upgrade in a couple of years as tech changes. I’m worried if I purchase Garmin will suddenly release a better option as the 735 is a few years old, with the older charge connection. I was looking at the Instinict, which looks really good but I like the ‘run adviser’ option which that doesn’t have and vo2 max (would garmin likely add this later?) – although i need to research what this does a little more. I’m not too worried about connect iq.

    Other than aged the 735xt looks perfect, £250 on amazon, where as fenix 5 is £352 – I don’t think its worth paying the extra for is it? The Fenix 3 is is actually more at the moment, so ruled that out plus its bigger.

  178. As always, dcrainmaker.com is the best place to go to for reviews!
    Anyway, I am considering this watch but I am wondering if anyone would have any idea whether if the pool mode would work in a swim spa – which we just bought. You’re basically staying in relatively the same place while jets provide resistance but it seems as though the accelerators might work the same was as in a pool, because of the movement of the body.

  179. Gustavo Horbach

    Hi. I am a huge fan of Garmin and used your site to select what gear to buy – all of your reviews are fantastic.
    I had a 310, than a 910 and a 920 – when I decided to go for a 735xt, mostly because it is lighter, smaller and “wearable “ all day long.
    It worked fine since dec/2016 (when I bought it) but two weeks ago, after a short run I decided to just relax on my house pool – and it went crazy.
    It started to beep and vibrate constantly, the screen got full of color bars and then the watch died…..
    I read on forums and websites that is kinda common problem: dying from a leak when on a pool.
    Is it common in all forerunner series? The 235 has same problem since the case is the same? Do you know if they improved it on the 935?