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Hands-on: Garmin’s Forerunner 645 Music GPS Watch


Finally, Garmin now makes a wearable that plays music.

In some ways, that’s sorta all you need to know.  But of course, I’ve got plenty more details to dive into than just that.  After all, the running focused unit doesn’t just have music, but rather all the latest features and functions that Garmin’s been adding lately – such as NFC contactless payments (Garmin Pay), latest Connect IQ app support, and finally in their high end dedicated running watch: A barometric altimeter (only the triathlon variants have had that till now).

I’ve been using a loaner beta device for almost a month now, through runs, rides, and more.  Since the software isn’t quite final (though is close), I’ll wait to do my full in-depth review till later in January when it starts shipping.  As such, again, this isn’t a full review.  Things could get better or worse than current status, and some ancillary things I haven’t been able to test yet on it.  Oh, and in case you’re new around here – I send back all these loaner devices when done with them and go out and get my own devices through normal retail channels (in fact, I’ve got a pile of devices to give back to Garmin when I see them at CES this week).  Just the way I roll.

With that, let’s dive right into it!

What’s New Overview:


To get right into things, I’ve put together a bit of a video covering all of the new items in the FR645 Music, primarily compared to the existing Garmin running watches (I.e. FR630 and FR935).  I cover the music, Garmin Pay, the heart rate sensor, and so on.  It’s all in here – watch and share!

Still, video aside, let’s outline what’s new in the watch down below in a bulleted list.  Those kinda lists are best.  Now there’s two ways I could go about this.  I could compare it to its older sibling – the FR630, or, I could compare it to its half-sibling, the FR935.  The FR630 is a pure running watch, whereas the FR935 is a multisport watch that Garmin wanted runners to also gravitate to (as they dropped the ‘XT’ suffix off the end of it from previous multisport watches – ala FR310XT, 910XT, 920XT, etc…).  Thus, for below, I’m going to roughly do both.  Hang on!

Here’s what’s new:

– Added Music storage and playback via Bluetooth (first Garmin watch to do so)
– Added Garmin Pay (NFC contactless payments)
– Added Garmin’s latest Elevate Optical HR sensor (same as FR935), for 1-second 24×7 HR recording
– Added Bluetooth Smart sensor support (like FR935, FR630 didn’t)
– Added FirstBeat Training Status metrics – fitness load/recovery (FR935 has it, FR630 doesn’t)
– Added Lactate Threshold tracking (FR935 has it, FR630 didn’t)
– Added latest Garmin Connect IQ for apps (FR935 has it, FR630 stops at older version)
– Added indoor pool swimming (FR935 has it, FR630 didn’t)
– Added Ski/Snowboard sports (FR935 has it, FR630 didn’t)
– Added SUP/Row/Yoga/Elliptical/Stair Stepper/etc sports (FR935 has it, FR630 didn’t)
– Added HRV Stress app (FR935 has it, FR630 didn’t)
– Added Strava Live Segments (FR935 has it, FR630 didn’t)
– Can respond to text messages from watch (only for Android users for now)
– Can follow courses (FR935 has it, FR630 didn’t)
– Uses similar charging cable to FR630. Identical from exterior, but internally is different.
– Uses same new quick release bands as Vivoactive 3

Phew – got all that? If you’re familiar with the FR935/Fenix5, then basically it can just be summed up as “Added music and Garmin Pay, took away multisport/openwater modes, and advanced navigation”, roughly.

Before we dive into the music pieces, a few quick notes on size comparisons.  I’ve lined up the FR630, FR645 Music, and the FR935 for a quick catwalk (left to right: FR630-FR645-FR935):



As you can see, the FR645 is smaller in width than the others, though about the same thickness.  I personally like a lightweight watch (compared to say, the heavier Fenix series), so my go-to watch is normally a FR935.  This feels on my wrist basically the same to that in terms of weight. So I’m happy there.


Also, as noted the bands are the same as the Vivoactive, which means they’re standard quick release style 20mm watch bands.  In my case, Garmin thought it’d be funny to send me a watch with a pink band on it.  And I actually wore it around for about 10 days that way.  But a tall pasty looking male living in Paris with a bright pink wristband gets some odd looks, and then some odder questions/statements.


Sidebar tidbit: The pink band is technically called ‘Cerise’ by Garmin, which ironically enough, is simply French for ‘Cherry’. Secondary tidbit, you know when you see on a trendy American restaurant menu that you have ‘haricot vert’, and it sounds all fancy?  That’s simply translated as ‘green beans’, it doesn’t denote any sort of cooking style or even that it’s cooked at all (while technically most French green beans are a bit thinner, that’s generally overlooked by most using the term).  I apologize for popping that fancy bubble.  Moving on…

So I actually swapped out my cherry for my Vivoactive 3 band, which is black.  The questions and looks went away.  And in that setting, it almost looks identical to the Vivoactive 3, save for the extra buttons on the FR645.  Speaking of which – the FR645 screen thankfully isn’t touch screen.  I’ve never been a huge touch screen fan for sports watches, and I’m glad it’s just buttons.


With the overview of what’s new covered, let’s jam right into the audio portions.

How Music Works:


Most of you will be interested in the music pieces.  While certainly there’s plenty I could talk about in the watch, the vast majority of the remaining features have been seen on existing Garmin watches.  I briefly cover some of the newerish features down in the next section, and in my full in-depth review I’ll dive into all the common things more deeply.  But for now, let’s talk music.

Note that this only applies to the ‘Music’ variant of the FR645 (aka ‘FR645 Music’, or ‘FR645M’), it doesn’t apply to the non-music variant of the FR645, as that lacks the hardware required to have music.  Which is a good point.  Some will ask whether Garmin will add music to XYZ previous watch.  The simple answer is almost all those watches lack two and a half core things: A) Storage for music, and B) The right Bluetooth hardware to handle music, and, to a lesser extent C) Battery planning to handle music, since it is a battery drain.

Which brings us to the FR645 Music, and it has those things.  It has about 3.5GB of storage for Music.  Though technically, that’s actually for Music, your workouts, and any apps you have.  But realistically those non-Music things only take up a few MB in total (.001 GB).  Technically the unit has 4GB, but half a gig is taken by the system.  Garmin estimates about 500 songs can be stored.  When you plug your FR645 into your computer, you’ll see how much music storage you have left using Garmin Express:


When it comes to transferring music to your device, it’ll arrive in a few different ways.  For simple music you want to transfer that’s not all tangled up in rights protection stuff (meaning, simple MP3’s, Podcasts, etc…), you’ll just use Garmin Express on your desktop.  You can see the different categories of music listed below. These are essentially just linked to different folders on your computer.  So you’d link the podcasts to the podcasts folder and so on.

This design does mean that for most non-streaming music, you’ll have to update that via your computer.  That’s a bit unfortunate for things like podcasts which could ostensibly be updated via WiFi as with the streaming services.  Garmin is saying though that longer term they’ll look to find ways to make some of these non-streaming options (like podcasts) leverage WiFi directly.

Speaking of streaming services, Garmin is rolling out with iHeartRadio and Deezer.  iHeartRadio is largely focused on the US market, while Deezer is more popular in Europe.  What’s actually really interesting is how these services appear within the watch once setup.  See, Garmin’s gone with a ‘Music Provider’ model, meaning that providers like iHeartRadio and Deezer can plugin to the underlying music platform in the watch, as opposed to having totally separate/complex apps (such as most other watches).  For example, within the watch under providers you’ll see I have iHeartRadio and my local music listed, both as sources for music.  Down the road that would also show Deezer, and perhaps further down the road other streaming/music platforms.

DSC_8129 DSC_8134

At present, with iHeartRadio the playlists are updated via WiFi, which is pretty cool.  So as long as you’re near one of the WiFi networks you’ve configured in the watch for general use (I.e. uploading workouts), it’ll upload that way.

But let’s talk more generally about how music works first.  To get music playing on the watch you’ll first need to pair Bluetooth wireless headphones (or any Bluetooth device – even a car).  There’s no music speaker on the watch itself, so it’s gotta go out via Bluetooth.  To pair headphones you’ll go to the same place you’d pair sensors and such, and you’ll see it listed there:


You’ll enable pairing mode on your headphones and then a few seconds later the watch will find it:


You can have multiple headphones paired/saved, which is kinda cool (many watches don’t support that).  For example, I’ve paired the PowerBeat’s, the Fitbit Flyer headphones, an Amazon speaker and some generic branded MPOW headphones.


Garmin has a list of validated headphones, but that doesn’t mean yours won’t work if it’s not on the list.  It’s just simply ones they’ve validated/tested.

With headphones all saved, you’ll wander back to the music widget.  This is accessible anytime by pressing the up/down buttons:


If in a workout, you can add the music page to your workout data pages just like you might add other data pages.

Once on the music page you’ll see a bunch of options.  The first is ‘manage’, where you can configure music providers (I.e. iHeartRadio, Deezer, saved music, etc…) as well as manage your headphones.


Next, you have ‘Source’, which selects from the music providers, or to simply control music on your phone instead.  Within a given source, you’ll see playlists, artists, albums, songs, genres, podcasts, and audio books (depending on the source of course).

DSC_8133 DSC_8136 DSC_8137

Back on the main controls page you’ve got a volume icon to increase/decrease volume, as well as play/skip/back/repeat/shuffle buttons:


Once you’ve started playing a given playlist/source/album/whatever, it’ll go to this main screen which shows the current song information:


When in a workout, it all works almost identically, except that you can long-hold the lower left button to go directly to the detailed music control page.

So how’s connectivity and how well does it work?  Overall, pretty good.  I’ve been using it with the various headphones noted above, and things work well.  One catch, anytime you talk about headphones and watches (since the beginning of time) is that every headphone out there has one side that’s considered the master/communications side (I.e. left or right).  In general, things work better when the watch is on the same side as that.

For example, on the Beats I’ve been using, that master side appears to be the left side.  For one run I was wearing the watch on my left wrist.  When I was running, I had no dropouts at all.  But, if I stopped running and walked (so my wrist went down to my waist), and then tilted my head to the right a bit – that tiny bit extra put it out of range and I’d get drops (remember, I’m fairly tall).  When I tried the watch on my right wrist instead, I got constant drop-outs.


Again, anyone has used various headphone with watches knows that these sorts of quirks are 100% par for the course.  Some headphones are better than others, and Garmin’s list shows which ones work best and in what configuration.  Other companies like TomTom, Polar, and more all have similar lists, and it’s pretty easy to see the trends in them on which headphones have the best connectivity.  Obviously, that’s also a balance on Garmin’s side too in terms of power management.  This isn’t a car or a plugged in stereo, thus, battery life power management is a balance in any wearable.

Oh, and last but not least, while in a workout, when you press the lap button (or if auto-lap is configured), then you’ll get audio alerts for that lap.  The music will cut out, and then a voice pipes in with the current lap time/pace/etc depending on how you have it configured.  Basically, just like every other music-running app/device has worked for years.

Finally, for those geeks in the house, when plugged into a computer, the unit shows up as a MTP device (Media Transfer Protocol), which is sorta a cross between a generic USB drive and one focused purely on music.  Though, you can force it to a straight USB drive via settings if you want.

Technically, there’s two ‘portions’ to how it appears.  The first is the music section/folder/drive/whatever (called Media), and the second is the typical Garmin one (called Primary).  The ‘primary’ one is where you’ll find the workout files and such.  Again, a typical user probably doesn’t care about this, but geeks like me might (ok, geeks definitely want to know this).


Another random geeky note – the cable for the FR645 Music is identical looking to that of the FR630.  Except internally it’s not.  The older cable (for the FR30/35/230/235/630/735XT) they found was causing some issues when transferring music, and thus had to be redesigned for a higher current.  If you plug in the watch with an older cable it’ll charge just fine, but it won’t enumerate on your computer for transfers (of any type).  You’ll get an error message on the watch.


Just a minor heads up for those in a multi-cable family like myself that you might want to mark that one as the golden child (it officially will also have ‘1A’ marked on it somewhere). But I marked it for now with a simple zip-tie.

Phew – got all that?!? Good!

If not, drop a question down in the comments and I’ll be happy to try it out.  Note that at present the Deezer app isn’t available to me to try, and the iHeartRadio app that I have is setup using a test account to a specific playlist, so I can’t tweak much in it yet (since I’m not on Garmin’s internal networks).  That’ll likely change shortly though and I’ll be able to dig into some of the specifics there more deeply.  Like I said, this isn’t a review, just an overview.  Review later this month assuming they start shipping then.

A Sample Run:

Again, let me preface this section that the device I have is beta.  My understanding is the hardware is final, but the software is in progress.  Since originally receiving it I’ve had multiple updates, almost daily in the last week.  As with all beta device/updates (be it Garmin, Apple, or GoPro), things tend to shift rapidly.  Often it’s a case of two steps forward, one step back.  Overall, things are pretty good, but there’s still some quirks I’m seeing (as is common on every device I beta test).

I simply picked them because they’re the two most recent runs, and thus have the most recent beta firmware.

The main run I’ve got is an interval run from Friday.  I started off with a simple build period, and then went into 5×3 minutes, with 90s rest.  This is a good time period to validate stability of the HR readings at both work and recovery.  At the end of the main set I did 4x30s sprints, again, as a good validation of how quickly the HR reacts.  First, we’ll look at HR:


It’s sometimes funny to me what fails and what works on any given run.  In the last week I’ve had runs where both the TICKR-X and Polar H7 straps have shown randomly weird things.  In this run, it was the TICKR-X’s turn.  You can see that while it did better than the FR645 in the first 45 seconds, for the next 16 minutes or so, the FR645 and TICKR-FIT were properly aligned – while the TICKR-X chest strap took a vacation or something.  After that though, for the intervals, the three units captured the work portion of the intervals well, though, the FR645 didn’t quite capture the recovery portion as well after #1 and #2.  Coming off of number #3/#4, it did fine.


On the 30-second sprints at the end, it was basically a crapshoot of which unit was least accurate on any given interval.  However, I will say that for the first time in a bunch of runs, the TICKR-FIT was the most accurate on the sprints.

You can see below that on some intervals the TICKR-X missed the boat, while in others the FR645 missed the boat.


Interestingly, I actually had much better luck two days prior with the FR645/TICKR-X on other short intervals…go figure.

Next, we’ll look at the GPS portion of that run.  The area of Amsterdam I was staying in (like much of central Amsterdam) tops out at about 4-6 stories tall with mostly older buildings.  I started off along a canal with buildings directly next to me on one side.  After 2-3 minutes I was into the expansive Vondelpark.  This time of year most of the trees are bare, though certainly more than present with branches and such.  Here’s the overview:


In looking at the track, you can see that it started off a bit wonky in the canal.  I had ‘green’ on the satellites for quite a while (since I was waiting for another watch to figure itself out).  So I’m surprised it showed wonky at the beginning.  I’d run this section half a dozen times in the previous week without issue on this watch or any other.


Once past that point, GPS was pretty good.  There’s a little bit of offset in the park in one direction in one section (the bottom-middle of the image below), by about 5-10 meters.  It was consistently offset each loop in this same spot, though I’m not sure why as there’s no change in trees.


Otherwise, the track for that run looked pretty good.  For fun, here’s a previous track from a few days prior.  You’ll see the track looks better in the canal area, and I ran through other building areas without issue (in fact, the FR645 gave the best track).  HR on that workout was perfectly fine too.


Both runs the temperature was in the 40-50°F (4-10°C) range. Overcast, though rather windy on the oldest of the two runs.

I’ll add in more runs from Vegas over the course of the week. I had attempted a run yesterday morning, but alas, something went amiss and my different watches recorded from the wrong HR straps…so basically, I’ve got a pile of duplicate data. Sigh…

Note: I haven’t tested 3rd party accessories.  Specifically Stryd or RunScribe on the FR645 yet for the very simple reason that when testing a beta device and not on Garmin’s internal networks, I can’t access any CIQ apps.  Once the device shows as a valid device on Garmin’s production system, then I can add those apps and validate for any connectivity concerns. Usually that happens within 24-48 hours of announcement.  I tried using .PRG files as a workaround, but it didn’t seem to work out, so, gotta wait for things to show up normally first. Sorry!

Product Comparisons:


I’ve added the Garmin FR645 to the product comparison tool below.  I didn’t bother adding the separate music/non-music variants, but just noted in the single line item where it mattered that one has music and one doesn’t.  Comparing the FR645 to other models on the market is a bit tough since it’s a high end running watch, and most of the music-laden running watches on the market are more mid-range (I.e. Apple Watch, Fitbit Ionic, Polar M600, Samsung Gear Sport, etc…).  This is really the first watch by a traditional sports company that’s got music in it (since Polar/Suunto/Garmin have no other music capable watches, beyond the Polar M600).

In any case, you can mix and match and make your own comparison chart within the massive product comparison tool here, in case the quick four I’ve selected below isn’t what you want.  Thus, I’ve picked the new Garmin Vivoactive 3 that came out a couple months ago, the Apple Watch Series 3, and the FR935 to compare against.  Again, it’s not really a perfect lineup, but any more than 4 watches and things look all funky below.

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated January 9th, 2018 @ 9:23 pmNew Window
Price$399/$449 (with music)$499$329/$399 (cellular)$299
Product Announcement DateJan 8th, 2018Mar 29th, 2017Sept 12th, 2017Aug 31st, 2017
Actual Availability/Shipping DateLate January 2018Mar 29th, 2017Sept 22nd, 2017September 2017
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiBluetooth SmartUSB, BLUETOOTH SMART
WaterproofingYes - 50mYes - 50m50m50 meters
Battery Life (GPS)14hrs GPS/5hrs GPS-Music (Note: Non-Music FR645 will get up to 16hrs battery GPS)Up to 24hrs in GPS-on, up to 50hrs in UltraTrac GPS5hrs GPS on time (24-48hrs standby)Up to 13 hours GPS
Recording Interval1S or Smart1S or SmartVaries1s or Smart Recording
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYesYesYes (but seems questionable)Yes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatNot generallyGreat
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesYesYesYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YEsYesYesYes
Can control phone musicYesYEsYesYes
Has music storage and playbackYes (3.5GB)NoYesNo
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYEsYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYesWith 3rd party appsYes
Group trackingYesYesNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoYesNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoYes (with cellular version)No
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableNoYEsNoWith some Connect IQ apps
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsN/AYesN/AN/A
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYEsNoYes
Strava segments live on deviceYesYesNoNo
Crash detectionNoNoNoNo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Designed for runningYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYEsWith 3rd party appsYes
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)WITH RD POD, HRM-TRI OR HRM-RUN (NOT VIA OPTICAL HR)WITH RD POD, HRM-TRI OR HRM-RUN (NOT VIA OPTICAL HR)NoNo
VO2Max EstimationYEsYesYesYes
Race PredictorYesYesNoNo
Recovery AdvisorYEsYEsNoNo
Run/Walk ModeYesYesWith 3rd party appsYes
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Designed for swimmingYesYEsYesYes
Openwater swimming modeNoYesYEsNo
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesYesYesYes
Record HR underwaterNoWITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (Not with optical HR)YesNo
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)NoYesBasic stroke type onlyNo
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesBasic stroke type onlyYes
Indoor Drill ModeYesYesNoNo
Indoor auto-pause featureNo (it'll show rest time afterwards though)No (it'll show rest time afterwards though)YesNo
Change pool sizeYEsYEsYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths17M/18Y TO 150M/Y17M/18Y TO 150M/Y1y/m to 1,500y/m+17M/18Y TO 150Y/M
Ability to customize data fieldsYEsYesVery limitedYes
Can change yards to metersYesYEsYesYes
Captures per length data - indoorsYesYesYesYes
Indoor AlertsYesYesYes (goals)Yes
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Designed for triathlonNoYesNot reallyNo
Multisport modeNoYesYesNo
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesWith 3rd party appsYes
On-unit interval FeatureYEsYEsWith 3rd party appsSorta (2 preloaded ones, but no customization)
Training Calendar FunctionalityYEsYesWith 3rd party appsYes
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Auto Start/StopYEsYEsYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYEsYEsNoNo
Virtual Racer FeatureYesYesNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYEsNoYes
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoYesNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoYesNoNo
GeocachingNoVia GPS coordinatesNoNo
Weather Display (live data)YesYesYesYes
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYesWith 3rd party appsNo (but some 3rd party apps can)
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYEsWith 3rd party appsYes (to pre-saved spots)
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoWith 3rd party appsNo
Back to startYesWith 3rd party appsYEs
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoWith 3rd party appsNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitYesYesWith 3rd party appsNO
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeMagneticN/AMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesYesYesYes
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYEsYesNoYEs
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYEsYesnoYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableYEsYesNoYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoYesNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlYesYesNoYes
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNo (can control VIRB though)NoNo (Yes for VIRB camera control)
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)YesYesNono
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoYEsNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoYEsNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableYesYesYesYEs
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableYesYEsNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableYesYEsNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNQoYEsNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYEsNoNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)YesYesNoYes
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsN/AYEsNo-
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
PC ApplicationPC/MacGarmin ExpressNoneGarmin Express
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectNoneGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS onlyiOS/Android/Windows
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkN/ALink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkN/ALink
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 645Garmin Forerunner 935Apple Watch Series 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Again, remember you can mix and match your own product comparison charts here to pick whatever products you’d like that I’ve previously reviewed.

Oh – and for lack of anywhere else to mention it – note that this is a bit stripped down from a Fenix 5.  For example, you don’t have as many navigational options like you do there. Nor is there a multisport mode like on the multisport watches (FR935/Fenix5).  Also, there’s no native openwater swimming mode either – just a pool mode. As well as no power meter support.  And also, no maps like there is on the Fenix 5X.  There are likely some other nuances and differences, but those are the biggies.



As I said in the beginning, this is not a review – for the very simple reason the product isn’t done yet and I tend to like to wait until it’s final (software/hardware) before releasing a review.  Still, I’ve got many hours of experience here to give the gist of things – it’s been on my wrist virtually 24×7 since mid-December (save removing it for a couple videos I shot so you wouldn’t know it was there!).

Overall, this is definitely the right step forward for Garmin.  And no doubt you’re saying ‘Finally!’.  Unlike contactless payments or optical HR sensors, I don’t think we’ll see music standard on every new Garmin watch for the near term, I think that baseline is probably another 12-18 months away (primarily because Android Wear was leading the charge in dropping the price points there, but new meaningful entrants there have mostly dried up as of late).

The music piece works well (note again that my time on the streaming pieces specifically has been super limited), and I’m interested in seeing where Garmin takes the music side of the platform going forward – perhaps making it a bit more cloud-centric as opposed to desktop-centric.  Though, Fitbit and others are really much the same here today unfortunately.  On the new running-specific portions, everything we’ve seen is pretty much stuff we’ve seen over the last 12 months with the Garmin Fenix 5/FR935/Vivoactive 3.  All of which have largely been well received.

Obviously, Garmin Pay will continue to be a slow boat for a while, mainly due to limited bank support (same as Fitbit too).  They say they’ve got a flotilla of banks lined up in 2018, including some major ones.  But like others in the space, it’s just gonna be a waiting game till your bank shows up.

Will I use this as my primary running watch?  I don’t know.  Long-time readers know I’m actually not a big running with music person, but that’s largely because I was sick and tired of dealing with loading songs manually from a PC (so I ended up with the same songs every run for months).  With streaming platforms, things update automagically, so it makes it more appealing.  On the flip-side, as a multisport athlete, I want sports like openwater swimming and multisport mode, as well as power meter support (mainly the FR935).  So this watch doesn’t quite fit me personally, but I’d have no issues recommending it to a runner that wants music.

With that – stay tuned for my full in-depth review once it starts shipping later this month, it’ll no doubt be packed full of data and more opinions.

Thanks for reading!

Note: If you found this review useful, you can help support the site using Clever Training.  You can pre-order the FR645 or FR645 Music from them, either in the US or in Europe/UK.  If you use the DCR CT/VIP program, you can receive 10% back in points, plus free expedited shipping (regular free shipping applies to any FR645 order).  I appreciate the support!

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  1. Lee

    “Some will ask whether Garmin will add music to XYZ previous watch. The simple answer is almost all those watches lack two and a half core things”

    So does “almost all those watches” leave me a glimmer of hope that the Fenix 5 is one of the few that does NOT fall into that category and could possibly handle music storage??

  2. Finally !

    Interms of MATERIALS QUALITY, is the case/bezel essentially the VA3 albeit with 4 more buttons?

    • Yes, feels identical to me from a materials standpoint.

    • chaugi

      Thank you for that question!

    • Marios

      I was at CES and played with the 645 a bit. One thing I noticed is that all the units on the floor had scratched-up bezels. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t release a non-metal bezel version on a running-specific watch. Plus it would be lighter …

    • Alex

      What about the screen quality? Seemed like it might have been a higher resolution than the VA3. I’d buy the 645 if it had better resolution than the VA3.

    • Alex

      Oh, and how’s the bluetooth range? My VA3’s bluetooth range is about 1 room so like 6 meters. Pretty crappy. I would love a longer range, then a couple bluetooth required apps would be a bit more useful.

  3. Thomas Wylie

    Thanks for the first look Ray. It’s cool that they’ve added some of the features of the 935 to a more run focused watch. Although, with regards to form factor, if they’re able to reduce the bezel around the screen (which from the pictures is what it looks like they’ve done) I think I’d have preferred a larger screen (and possibly a thinner watch) rather than the same screen in a smaller diameter.

    Music wise – Meh. Not enough compatibility to make it worth buying this rather than just taking a phone. I also imagine it would be tricky to find a song you wanted if you drastically changed your mind about what you wanted to listen to on the go.

    • Yeah, for most music wearables, it’s really more about choosing a given playlist to play from. Though, Garmin is better than most in terms of being able to fairly easily select a given artist/genre/etc…

      But yeah, playlists are sorta the name of the game for wearables.

    • Thomas Wylie

      Which, to be fair, is also true when listening on a phone while exercising in most cases.

    • Nathan B

      Voice control makes this quite easy.

      I was struggling on the turbo trainer the other day, and asked Google Assistant to play a specific Metallica song on Spotify, and it kicked in.

      I used to like this on my Android Wear watch with Bluetooth headphones, until it didn’t get the 2.0 upgrade.

  4. Robert Black

    Hi Ray is the battery life still at 8 hours+ without music? Just last night a car crossed the pavement outside my house and crashed into a neighbors car. Bloke was as drunk as a scunk and promptly arrested. I’m happily sans music

    • Matthew B.

      12 hours according to the chart.

    • Just as a minor update on battery life, Garmin’s engineering team actually just updated the numbers (about an hour after announcement/release) to slightly better battery life numbers for non-music. They are:

      14 hours for the FR645 Music in GPS mode
      16 hours for the FR645 (non-Music) in GPS mode

      Apparently some architecture differences account for the slightly higher battery life of the non-music variant.

      I’m told the official manuals will show these numbers shortly, as will various other Garmin spec sheets/etc…

    • Non-GPS variant? Surely you mean non-Music…

  5. So much for a unified charging cable then.

  6. Aben

    Does the Fenix 5 series have music? does this watch have anything else fenix 5 does not?

  7. // I don’t think we’ll see music standard on every new Garmin watch for the near term, I think that baseline is probably another 12-18 months away

    Any Comments from UCI and Triathlon reglements on that?
    At least for German triathlons I know there’s a strict ban on any music playback devices. So it might end up in a discussion on “music enabled devices”, Smartphones are banned.

  8. Niall

    A step in the right direction but nothing I have read would convince me to buy yet. I listen to podcasts mainly and I really don’t like the idea of updating all the time via express. Hopefully the wireless updates become a reality even if you could do it via garmin connect eg like sending workouts to your watch.

  9. Tammy Hassenpflug

    The comparison chart says no power meter support, does that include Vector 3?

  10. Matthias Grund

    Thanks for the first hands-on, Ray!
    Below the picture with the size comparison you made a small typo: “635”

    Overall I’m happy now that I replaced my 630 last week with a 935 as prices are dropping now (400 EUR) and didn’t wait for the 645.

  11. Sunny

    Nice overview and HNY Ray.

    Having switched from multi-sport to running this watch seems a really good swap from my previous fave 935. Having small wrists it ticks that box, then it gets tricky for me, having signed up for an ultra distance race I would love to have music integrated into my fitness watch. Damn, 5 hours on the batter life :-( I guess I’ll be staying with an ipod shuffle and a watch capable of 20 hours in GPS mode. Wishful thinking on the 645M – nice watch though, love the styling, size and price point.

  12. Ricky

    Any rumours of spotify support?

  13. Nicolas

    Great review as always Ray. I understand that Garmin needs to differentiate their products but the lack of openwater swimming capabilities while the watch is able to track pool swimming puzzles me a bit from a product placement point of view.
    cheers from Switzerland

    • steve

      Yes I agree with the no open water puzzle. Any chance that gets added on later or would an outside app be able to track open water swim?

    • Mike Richie

      Yes, I was annoyed the Vivoactive 3 didn’t have open water swimming either. It really seems like a strange move from a product placement standpoint. Certainly open water swimming is a more common “regular user” sport than Stand Up Paddle-boarding or other sports the VA 3 or this has. It also would be necessary if someone were looking for primarily a swim watch. Requiring their high end watches for this seems strange. However, I think that the reason they exclude OWS is that if the code were there then Connect IQ apps could access it to pretty trivially create a triathlon app. I just don’t think that any of that drives sales and I, for one, will not consider this or the VA 3 without it. I’ll keep the VA HR and use my Apple Watch (which does open water swim, although I don’t know how well yet) for swimming and music.

    • RTellis

      The VA3 is the top of the line activity tracker and therefore targeted at more casual exercisers. From my personal experience I know a lot more people who casually SUP and swim laps than open water swim.

      For most people open water swimming is when they slash around at the beach or lake front instead of swimming point-to-point or long-ish out-n-backs.

    • Mike Richie

      I completely disagree with both your points. First, the VA line is Garmin’s top fitness sport tracking watch. It is just not oriented to the ‘pro’ or competitive cyclists and runners, for running at various levels there is the FR series and then the xt and Fenix series for triathletes. The VA 3 now includes training plans. The Garmin Swim hasn’t been updated for over 5 years, and I don’t believe does outdoor swimming.
      Secondly, swimming for fitness is one of the most popular forms of exercise, indoors and out. See –
      link to phitamerica.org
      for the US, and I suspect even more so globally. SUP, interestingly, shows the most growth but is about 1/20th as popular as swimming. They don’t break down indoors vs outdoors, but certainly a large percentage of swimming is outdoors. Outdoor swimming also would benefit significantly from a good tracker, even more than indoors, so a great way to differentiate from Fitbit or Apple Watch (both of which have or plan to have OWS, although not as accurate as Garmin).

    • Ray Sancheezio

      Agree with RTellis. Swimming is more an endurance sport, SUP is more a casual mainstream activity, more aligned with the VA target customer.

  14. Mirko Surf&Run

    Still no Galileo satellites? When will Galileo satellites be ready to use for GPS watches?

    • KYLE

      Its already ready. Garmin doesnt put all the features in the same year. They could have easily put NFC chips and music storage in the Fenix series last year but they knew then they would update the series this year to make money. Maybe next year Garmin will have the headline “New Galileo satellites”. They know what they are doing years ahead of time

    • It is not ready. Right now, there are 14 fully operational satellites, and 4 more in commissioning – so if that goes well, it’ll be 18 in a few months. It won’t be complete until there are 24 up there. Right now the performance on the test receivers using Galileo only is OK most of the time, but occasionally terrible. See the quarterly reports on initial services at this link. For the moment, it’s a potentially useful augmentation to GPS performance (but then, the same is true for Glonass, and a lot of people just leave that off on Garmin watches…) but the improved accuracy probably isn’t going to show up until there have been a few more launches. And, as that’s dual-frequency, it’s going to need more complicated antenna design.

      Are there any watches out there (bar the new Garmin Foretrex units) which already support Galileo? Genuine question – I’d be quite tempted to have one to play with once there are 18 satellites in use.

    • Kyle

      Dom, most new android phones are already using the new Galileo system. Just download an app it it will show you what satellites its using exactly.

    • Mike

      Any extra satellite coverage would be useful for those of us in dense urban areas with limited sky view.

    • Mirko Surf&Run

      in 12th dicember 2017 the Galileo satellites are 22.
      Just one other launch and it is complete

    • Mirko Surf&Run

      Dom is right, the Garmin Foretrex 601 uses also Galileo satellites

    • in 12th dicember 2017 the Galileo satellites are 22.
      Just one other launch and it is complete

      For a post by the ESA, that is weirdly overoptimistic about some things.

      There are 22 satellites in orbit, yes, but only 14 of them are providing useful data right now, as I said above. See this page and its links.
      14 are up, in the correct orbits and transmitting usable data.
      Four are, as your image says, undergoing 6 months of tests before they’ll join that constellation.
      Two were launched into eccentric orbits, which have been somewhat corrected, but it’s not clear that they’ll ever contribute normally to Galileo – they’ve been sending test signals for more than a year now. GSAT0104 had power failures and will never transmit anything useful again. GSAT0204 is currently out of use for constellation management (presumably designated a spare, it’s not clear).

      Four more will be launched mid or Q3 2018, depending which source you believe, then will need another 6 months of commissioning, like the December launches. If GSAT0204 comes back online then, you’d have 23 online with no spares other than the ones in odd orbits.

      That means that, possibly, in a year from now, you’ll have 23/24 satellites operating, with no spares. This is why I say it’s not ready yet; because it won’t be ready until 2019 :)

      To be clear, what I’m saying is that the extra accuracy we’re all probably hoping to see with Galileo won’t be reliably available until 2019, though Mike’s comment about extra satellites in urban canyons is quite right.

      Kyle, true, but I have a Moto Z with phenomenal battery life and I don’t want to give that up for a phone that supports Galileo :)

    • Mirko Surf&Run

      Do you think that with Galileo in GPS watches the instant pace feature will be better, especially under trees or in difficult areas? Or it will be the same? I read a review of the Garmin Foretrex 601, and I could read that GPS accuracy is better than the Fenix. But we have to understand if it dependes on the fact that it uses also the Galileo Satellites, or because it’s bigger and has better GPS antennas. Probably bigger units like the Garmin Foretrex are more accurate than smaller units like GPS watches for the design of the antenna. So maybe the use of the Galileo satellites will not change anything in practice, like the Glonass Satellites. DC Rainmaker says that a lot of people leave the option GLONASS off in their Garmin watches.

    • I’m somewhat optimistic. Dual frequency signals (freely available on Galileo) help compensate ionospheric errors better than civilian GPS, and the E5 signal on Galileo is cunningly designed to reduce multipath errors, which have a lot to do with urban canyon/tree issues – GPS/Glonass can’t identify multipath signals and reject them as easily. So all else being equal, a watch of a given size should do better with Galileo. But if you have poor sky view and you need GPS satellites as well as Galileo to have enough for a 3D fix, then maybe it won’t help much, because you’ll still have multipath errors on GPS.

      I leave Glonass off myself. It probably helps when you have a very narrow sky view, but the geometry is awkward for positioning then anyway, and narrow views tend to lead to a lot of multipath reflections anyway.

    • Mike Richie

      @Mirko I’m curious, what watch are you using? I use the VA HR and find the instant pace generally terrific, even in tree cover. I think they must have algorithms that work off the accelerometer if the GPS data is suspect. I can use it to keep a pretty steady pace even in the woods. Haven’t tried it much around tall buildings, but I assume the corrections would work there as well. (Apple Watch, btw, not so much)

    • Mirko Surf&Run

      Hi Mike,
      I’m using two watches of Garmin.
      The first is the old Garmin Forerunner 610. It is some years old, and I find that it is very good in measuring the exact distance. When it has a good lock with the satellites, it beeps exactly where I have the kilometer mark on my preferred road. This watch doesn’t have an accelerometer and the instant pace feature is very very bad, so with this watch I use the lap pace that gives me the expected pace for the kilometer and is very good for steady run.
      The second watch that I use is the Garmin Fererunner 35. This watch is circa one year old. I find that it is a little less accurate than the Garmin Forerunner 610, because it usually doesn’t beep exactly in correspondence of the kilometer marks in the street. Sometimes it beeps earlier, sometimes later, and at the end the total distance is usually exactly the same of the other watch the Garmin Forerunner 610. I think that the Forerunner 35 uses algorithms that uses as input data the GPS signals and the data of the accelerometer. The istant pace feature in the Garmin Forerunner 35 is very good and with this watch I don’t need to use the “lap pace” function.
      There are two situation where I would like to see an improvement:
      1- The accuracy of the “instant pace” of the Garmin Forerunner35 is particolarly true for steady run. When I do intervals training where the speed change very rapidly, I see that the instant pace feature of the Garmin Forerunner 35 isn’t in reality an INSTANT pace, but an average of the last 20 seconds. So for short intervals the insant pace isn’t so accurate. Usually good athlethes for short repetition use some mark at 100m, 200m etc and they look at their time so they understand if they are going too fast or too slow in that interval. I’m lazy and I don’t want to do calculation, so I wish I could trust more the instant pace of my watch even in short repetion of 400 m or 800 m.
      2- I usually run in bycicle line along a river. There is a kilometer where there are a lot of trees and in that point I see that the Forerunner 610 and Forerunner 35 are often less accurate for instant pace. They usually beep in the exact position at the end of the kilometer, but when I run there the instant pace is often wrong. Unfortunately this is the place where I do all my intervals and where I run most often in the summer, because I want the shadow of the trees to protect me from the warm of the sun and is the most beautiful place to run (no cars, no building).

    • MirkoSurf&Run

      The new Garmin Foretrex 601 has two options:
      The first is to choose between these satellites:
      So there is no GALILEO alone, but only working toghether with GPS

      The second option is WAAS on or WAAS off. WAAS increases accuracy but probably also energy consumption.
      It would be interesting to know if it is possible to introduce WAAS also in GPS watches or if there are hardware limitations (for example design of the antenna, or energy consumption). I don’t think that Fenix and Forerunner 935 are using WAAS. Garmin says that with WAAS accuracy improves from 10 meters (GPS only)to 3 meters (GPS+WAAS)

    • Mike Richie

      That’s interesting information, Mirko. I do think, however, that the best accuracy for running (not so much for cycling, sailing or other faster moving sports) can be achieved by using the accelerometers, the historical stride length and the GPS data. I wonder if Garmin is using different algorithms for the FR 610, FR 35 and VA HR. I am definitely not getting a 20 sec avg for instant pace as it changes within 1 to 2 seconds when I accelerate or stop. Videos that Ray has done show similar results with the higher end watches. Distance recording is, I think, also using algorithms to get more accurate results, but not necessarily the same ones used for pace. I have lately been comparing with my Apple Watch and both pace and distance are more accurate on the Garmin and pretty close to what I measure on a map (so similar to your km markers). I agree that getting much more accurate GPS data to begin with would help, but if you can’t see the satellites (ie. dense tree cover) no amount of satellites will help. Garmin has been at this for a while, I would love to hear what they have to say on this. Although I kind of suspect this is their “secret sauce”. ;) Maybe Ray has some insight.

    • MirkoSurf&Run

      For sure Garmin uses different algorithm in different watches.

      FORERUNNER 610 ( a lot of years ago)
      It was high-end sport watch of some years ago.
      I think that the old Garmin Forerunner 610 doesn’t have an accelerometer inside, and the instant pace rely only on GPS. When GPS reception is fine, instant pace is also fine, when it has trouble, instant pace is awful. I tried to use a footpod as speed source, but I gave up because I didn’t manage to correctly calibrate it. In the old Forerunner 610 you had to calibrate it manually, but when I change speed I change also cadence so I realized that the calibration was effective just for a certain speed. The new high end watches have the ability to calibrate the footpod themselves continuously with the GPS signal. In the Forerunner 610 “lap pace” was just fine (the expected average in 1 km)

      It’s a low price sport watch of two years ago.
      I repeat that I’m very happy of the Forerunner 35. For instant pace it uses GSP and accelerometer and for normal runs I find it accurate. My only observation is that when I run sometimes I feel that the instant pace is a little slow to react to my change in speed, especially under tree coverage, but it could be that high-end watches uses other algorithms. I writed that I think that it makes an average of 20 seconds, but I just tried to guess, it could be that it is an average of 5 or 10 seconds.

      Mike you have the Vivoactive HR 3 that is more recent than the Forerunner 35 and another price range, so I think that should be better and probably it uses better algorithm for instant pace than Forerunner 35, and it is likely that instant pace of the Vivoactive HR 3 is better than the instant pace of the Forerunner 35. For sure instant pace of Vivoactive HR 3 is not worse of instant pace of Forerunner 35, and in any case I repeat that I’m quite happy with instant pace of the the Forerunner 35.

      My question is if the Galileo satellites could help in practice to improve accuracy in difficult condition. In the previous post Dom was optimistic, even with trees, because Galileo uses two frequency and can eliminate multipath errors. But he said that the watch should use only Galileo satellites and not GPS satellites. Maybe Garmin hasn’t introduced Galileo yet in GPS watches because there is no serious advantage, but this is the thing that I really do not want! Garmin introduced Galileo satellites in the Foretrex 601, but it has to work with GPS and not alone, and in this case Dom said that the advantage of the Galileo satellites could be lost.
      I’m waiting to upgrade to a Forerunner 935 or a Forerunner 645, but I was expecting that Garmin give Galileo support to their high-end watches. Or next year I will want to change watch again!

    • Mike Richie

      I think there may be more than one way to use the Galileo data. One would be for additional satellite data to use with GPS, the other would be to use it as intended, by itself, and then use the results to modify your GPS result. The second may be how Garmin is using it, but not allowing use only by itself since there are not enough satellites for continual coverage? Just a thought.

    • Mirko Surf&Run

      Garmin gives few information about this, so I think we have to try to guess it :)
      In the high end watches there are now just these option:
      GPS (where with GPS they intend they are using just the USA NAVSTAR satellites)
      GPS+GLONASS (they use the USA NAVSTAR satellites and the russian GLONASS)
      The user can’t choose GLONASS alone.
      I answer myself why there isn’t the possibility for the user to select only GLONASS.
      I think that the user in the future will not have the possibility to choose to use just the Galileo satellites, even when the Galileo satellites will be complete, but
      Indeed, this is the only possibility in the new Garmin Foretrex 601 (you don’t have the option GALILEO alone)..
      Dom in the previous post writed “But if you have poor sky view and you need GPS satellites as well as Galileo to have enough for a 3D fix, then maybe it won’t help much, because you’ll still have multipath errors on GPS.” So it seems that it should be better when using Galileo satellites to avoid to use the NAVSTAR GPS satellites.
      My fear now is that also the Galileo satellites won’t help much, like the Glonass satellites now are not helping so much in practice. A lot of users, Dom included, leave Glonass off to save battery, probably because the accuracy improvement is negligible with Glonass compared to using NAVSTAR GPS alone.

    • I think a lot of this will depend on the chip design and algorithmic choices. With multi-constellation fixes, the chips treat the satellites as equivalent, just using effectively one satellite’s worth of data to correct for clock differences between the constellations. For a dual-frequency-capable chip, it would be perfectly possible to prioritise the Galileo signals over the GPS ones if there are enough Galileo satellites visible, maintaining the signal lock on the GPS satellites and a rough fix to help identify GPS signals that are likely to be multipath and to be able to use the direct signals quickly when needed.

      DF Galileo is less noisy than either GPS or GLONASS, so it should always improve positioning.

    • Mirko Surf&Run
  15. Sam

    Can’t wait to get spotify and ditch my mobile phone, although I live just in front of the deezer office (in paris) I don’t have an account there :-:D

  16. Marc

    Hey Ray, thanks for the review. Was wondering if the non music version has more battery life as the space that would be used for a storage chip could perhaps be used for a larger battery? Also, how long are you typically going on a single charge?


  17. Thomas K

    Is it possible to get audio announces directly to the earphones (running without a phone)?
    So you get hrm – lets say every 20 sec?

    • Harald

      about middle of the text:

      “Oh, and last but not least, while in a workout, when you press the lap button (or if auto-lap is configured), then you’ll get audio alerts for that lap. The music will cut out, and then a voice pipes in with the current lap time/pace/etc depending on how you have it configured. Basically, just like every other music-running app/device has worked for years.”

    • Thomas K

      Yes, but Im asking, is it posipple to get automatic hrm announcments every 20-30 seconds without tapping and using the hands.
      I get those announcments when I use the Wahoo Fitness app on my iPhone, but I like to run without my phone.

    • Joey

      The Forerunner 645M offers Audio Prompts without being paired to a smartphone. You can set Lap, Pace/Speed, and Heart Rate alerts. You can also set the frequency. Lap is set by default but it can be changed to alert starting at 1 minute intervals.

  18. Can’t wait to try this bad boy. Have my reserved already!

  19. Matthew B.


    Has there been any improvements to the oHR sensor vs. 935/Fenix 5? AKA, is it truly the same generation?

    If so, when do you envision the “next gen” version coming out?


  20. Andrew

    Given that the music variant only costs $50 more on an already $400 watch I can’t see much reason for anyone to buy the base model. Do you know if the base has different hardware or is Garmin simply disabling features in firmware?

    • Mike

      That’s an easy one. The base model is all that I need/want. I’ve got no interest in having music onboard. I run with my phone anyways so moving music to the watch is a waste.

    • Andrew

      I run with my phone as well. Usually podcasts. But if I was going to spend $400 on a new watch I’d happily pay $50 for the audio lap summaries. That would assume they get more/better streaming support. I wouldn’t ditch my phone until they add LTE/live track though.

      If the base was $350 that would make more sense to me. Music/audio feedback isn’t worth $100. On the other hand $50 is easy. I’m wondering if both watches have the same guts and Garmin doesn’t have much motivation to sell me on the best unit.

    • Mike

      After thinking about it a bit more, I think there’s a good chance I’d get the music version. However, I’ve still got no interest in the features that the music version offers. One simple reason – resale ability!

      If and when I go to sell the watch in 18-24 months it will be an easier sale with the music version.

    • Ben

      You can alrwsdy get audio feedback from a Garmin watch through a connected phone

    • Thomas Wylie

      Can’t you already get basically the same thing as the lap summaries through the garmin app anyway? Pretty sure you can set it up to tell you stuff at mile points? Maybe it doesn’t do it at lap button press. I kind of skipped over that section because I don’t even use that feature now. Just look at your watch…

    • Mike Richie

      @Andrew Given the difference in battery life, I think the non-music version doesn’t have the extra memory (maybe Ray or someone at CES could ask Garmin). Whether that could be used for anything else (CIQ, maps) is unclear.

    • JWilly

      A 2yr old Garmin isn’t going to have much resale value, with or without music.

  21. Nick

    What Bluetooth profile and audio codec does support when connected to headphones?
    (Specifically I’m interested in if the audio codec is SBC or aptX)

  22. Ryan Gardner

    What is the lactate threshold tracking that the 645 has?

    I have a 630 and it will perioidically tell me when it detects a new Lactate Threshold for running and keeps track of my lactate threshold pace / hr in my “My Stats” – (and I can see how that value has changed over time in the Garmin Connect app or on the website) – does the 645 / 935 do something more advanced with regards to lactate threshold?

  23. Mike

    As a runner and not a multisport athlete this seems perfect (non-music version). However, as someone that does ultras the first thing I scrolled to find was battery life – 12 hours just isn’t enough. If it’d been 24 hours like my 935 I would have bought one immediately.

    Any idea if it can be charged while in GPS mode? This would make it more palatable. Love the smaller form factor and it’s a bit more stylish for everyday wear vs. the 935.

    • Garmin-Joey

      It can be charged while performing an activity.

    • Sunny

      That’s a game changer, as I love the smaller size and music so if I can charge using a lightweight high capacity battery then we have device for ultras that’s got on board music… My next quandary, shuffle plus 935 weight Vs 645 and a charging unit… Might be over thinking it though!! Oh and cables running down my arm :( anyway, cracking watch ?

    • Matthew B.

      Does the charger block the oHR sensor? Alternatively, can it be worn (in general) while charging?

    • Garmin-Joey

      It uses an alligator clip style charger (similar to Forerunner 630) that does not block the sensor.

      The bottom part of the clip will raise the watch slightly, but you can wear it while charging.

      Link to charging cable: link to buy.garmin.com

    • RTellis

      I thought I read somewhere once about previous watches with oHRM that even though you could charge while in an activity the HR sensor would be disabled while connected to power.

      Is that true with the 645 as well, or am I remembering something that was never true?

    • Garmin-Joey

      You are corrected, and I should have noted, that the optical heart rate sensor is turned off while charging.

      If charging during an activity, it is recommended that a strap be worn to collect heart rate data.

    • Garmin-Joey

      The OHR sensor is disabled while charging due to the potential for inaccurate heart rate data while attached to the charging clip. The watch will be slightly lifted from the skin and increase the potential for outside light pollution.

  24. Tommy

    Interesting. I would have to wait for Google Play Music to be supported to consider this. I exclusively stream these days

    Do you think this will ever happen?

    • Joey Beall

      I’d be all over it with Google Play music support and pocket casts. I particularly want to just listen to podcasts on solo runs. If I could just quickly transfer a podcast from my phone to the watch and then fish my phone that’d be great. I currently never run with my phone.

    • Kyle

      I agree. GPM and Pocket Casts are one of the best products on Android. Unfortunately Ray uses mostly Apple so he probably doesn’t understand this. If you use GPM compared to Spotify you will see its far superior product. Everyone for me atleast except for my parents and users over the age of 40 are using Pandora and Spotify less and less. Also, Garmin only using “downloaded” music and iheartradio, its kinda useless to be honest.

    • I’d suspect there’s approximately zero chance of Google Music, just as zero chance of Apple Music.

      As for podcasts, you can add those in today – though it’s just kinda clunky since it’s desktop. It would be interesting to see if you could create a playlist of podcasts on iHeart Radio or Deezer…

    • Pat

      If there’s zero chance of Google Music or Apple Music, and Spotify or Pandora seem unlikely anytime soon (from the comments I’ve seen here), where does that leave things from a streaming perspective for the FR645?
      If it’s just iHeartRadio and Deezer for the foreseeable future, then it’s not great for folks who don’t already subscribe to those services. The only other option I suppose would be unprotected (e.g. purchased) music, though not sure how much interest there is. Am I missing anything here or is the music outlook rather underwhelming for 645?

    • Greg

      Garmin should just partner with Spotify and compete against Apple. Most people don’t use Deezer or Iheart…what a joke.

      Just buy the mighty player for offline Spotify,

    • JFed

      I have the mighty, trust me – it’s anything but mighty. The sound quality is awful, and half the time i use it – either the battery is dead or it somehow lost its synch with Spotify and needs to be re-linked. I’ve shelved it, and regretfully resorted to carrying my phone during workouts. If Garmin executes this well, it will get a lot of interest – but needs better music sources.

    • Greg

      Agree mighty is not great but it’s the only Spotify offline device thats compact. I keep waiting for garmin to get their act together,

      I sent back my original player and the new one works much better. Try a swap out with mighty

  25. Nathan B

    “Garmin is saying though that longer term they’ll look to find ways to make some of these non-streaming options (like podcasts) leverage WiFi directly.”

    On the Garmin 655 more than likely!

    I wouldn’t buy this device based on Garmin’s maybe.

    See Vivoactive 3 and Running Power.

    • I think this is one specific feature that’s more generic to be honest. The underlying code for updating songs via WiFi is already there for apps like Spotify and Deezer, which is far more complex (auth/etc) than dealing with pointing to a generic Podcast feed and downloading what’s new.

      Either way, I don’t expect this to specifically be a deal breaker for anyone.

    • Drew

      You’d be surprised…my wife is interested in this watch but runs mostly listening to podcasts. We don’t own a desktop computer or laptop. So could be a deal breaker for her.

  26. gingerneil

    This looks beautiful – fantastic looking watch. Its really the Fenix 5 in a slightly smaller, non-plastic case. Or a 935-metal ?
    I like the ability to properly control music – shuffle etc. I wonder if this will make it to the 935. Not shuffle music on the watch, as it obviously doesnt support watch-stored music, but the ability to have greater control of the device playing the music. I’d love to be able to scroll and select playlists etc stored on a host device – ie through google music.
    On a similar note (hehe – see what I did there!) I dont suppose many people have actual music files that they own these days. These streaming devices really need to support the streaming services. Mighty does offline Spotify – but the battery life is life would make it unusable for me, and plus I am google music subscriber and that isnt yet supported.
    I’m really hoping someone comes along with the ‘Pebble Core’ – a refined Mighty, with good battery life (30+ hours) and wider services support.

    • the5krunner

      you’d be surprised.

      I have a stream at the end of my garden. But that’s all the streaming I do.

      I could talk about FLAC, but I suppose then I’d get some flack from people thinking I was being rude.

      and so it goes on…

      seriously tho, i don’t stream.

    • Mike P

      Yup, couldn’t agree more.

      Music streaming/MaaS just does not apply to my habbits, while my m-file collection does.

      And +1 like for FLAC :)

      Oh, and I still know a ton of people actually listening to their CD collection. Whatever floats your boat.. ;)

  27. Sylvester Jakubowski

    So Garmin has already abandoned their “universal” cable standard?

  28. Daniel V

    Hi Ray,

    I think you missed the “back to start” functionality and the compass type in Comparison tool for 645 – what are these parameters? You also mentioned the advanced navigational stuff was taken out. When compared to 935 (not the Fenix with maps and etc.), what does the 645 lack ? Can I download routes to it?

    Thanks a lot….

    PS. I was wondering of updating my prehistoric 225 to VA3 or FR935, now this one looks fine as well.. Which one would you recommend :-) ?

  29. Nico

    Hi Ray. Thanks for the first look.

    I see that you mention “yes” for running dynamics on the 645. I believe you still need the RD Pod/HRM-Tri/HRM-Run for that, right (at least it would be a surprise for me if they found another way, it’s not mentioned in the press release but you happen to know more usually :-) )?

    I keep my eye on the 935 by the way (not expecting an update there, curious if there will be a Fenix 5M announced in the next days), still think it’s the better choice in this price range.

  30. Jimmy

    Any news on a fenix 5s plus?

  31. Chad

    Any idea on other streaming services like Spotify? I do not have iHeartRadio, but do you have to pay for a premium membership to get content on the 645? Or is there a free version that will play from the watch?

    • Ross

      It would be great to know if the iHeartRadio and/or Deezer can be used without a cellphone connection? i.e. to enable running without a phone.

      If so is it a premium (paid-for) feature?

    • Travis

      Both can be used without your cellphone, but only if you are a Premium (paid) subscriber to the service that allows you to have the ability to download the music from the service for listening offline. Subscriptions run about $10/month.

  32. Chris Cooper

    Hi Ray!

    What’s going to be noticeable with the FR645 not offering Firstbeat?

    Thanks so much!


  33. Chris

    Does iheartradio download ahead of time – or do you have to have your phone with you? I guess 12-18 months ago this would have been cool, but I feel like at this point the loss of battery life to gain almost nothing just isn’t that appealing.. Cell functionality would be a totally different thing..

  34. Paul S.

    Hi Ray,

    Sorry for the digression, but I haven’t been able to find anything on Garmin’s forums or Amazon… Do the new Quickfit watches offer a significantly longer band than stock? I remember on my Fenix 2, I think, there was a long band for wearing over big jackets during snow sports. I’ve finally moved back to a cold climate, and want to be able to look at my FR935 on the outside of my jacket while snowboarding and xc skiing, but I haven’t found anything. I would prefer having a Quickfit option rather than having to loop some Velcro through there, although I suppose that’s not a terrible option since I won’t have wrist HR anyway.


  35. Paul

    Hey Ray,

    Is the battery the same in both music and base variants of 645? If I buy 645M and don’t use music functionality, am I getting the same battery life as 645 no music version?


  36. I’m a Fenix 3 user, and the 645 looks like a perfect fit for my use Snowboard/cycle/hike. I don’t have power meter, VIRB or lights and don’t see that changing. I am curious what “Advanced navigation features” have been removed? I see you can download courses so I am confused. I have no idea how this won’t compete head on with the Fenix 5 other than the X’s mapping capability. Lastly the screen looks different/brighter than the Fenix? Do you have details on the screen? Thanks as always great info Ray!

    • So, if you look at some of the nav features on the FR935/Fenix that aren’t on the FR645, is stuff like ‘Sight ‘n Go’, Coordinates (routing to), dedicated ‘Navigate’ apps, dedicated ‘Track me’ apps. There’s more nuances deeper in, but those are some quick ones off the top of my head.

  37. grammus

    I’m mildly astonished by this. Bringing something to market that’s supposed to be a running watch, but throwing loads more smartwatch features in and then pricing it *higher* than the Apple Watch is just madness. Hopefully there will be a 245 as well.

    • The challenge is that while the Apple Watch is a better all-around day to day watch, I don’t think anyone would reasonably make the case it’s a more advanced running watch that the FR645 (or even FR630). The target market for this specific watch isn’t Apple Watch people, it’s high end running watch people.

    • Mike Richie

      I agree, however… Now that Garmin has added nfc, music storage, headphones, etc. a lot of it’s advantages (like battery) are getting minimized and Apple is opening up more of it’s hardware to developers. There is very little (other than time) that would stop a developer from adding the advanced running features to the Apple Watch – no Ant+, but almost everything else is feasible. You could even write code to improve accuracy of things like pace. From a hardware standpoint the Cellular version has 16GB of ram, I imagine, a faster processor, a better screen, microphone, speaker and of course, always on connectivity for the same price.

    • Mike

      I use an AW2 as my daily driver, after a long history of Garmin and TomTom watches.

      I think in theory, an AW app could to do all of that, save two major holes. 3rd party apps don’t get access to the AW’s physical controls, except for bezel turns. So even simple things like marking laps is hit and miss on the touchscreen. Second, I get the niggling feeling that the GPS and HR data provided to third party apps isn’t the same as what is available to Apple’s baked-in workout app. For instance, Strava’s instant pace is still problematic, even though it’s fine on Apple workouts.

      In practice, I find that a lot of the extra functionality gets spread across a variety of apps (Strave, Nike, RunGo, iSmoothRun, etc) so you end up having to pick one and forego the others, since there isn’t one app that does everything.

      I still use AW2 because it’s good enough for casual tracking and it supports music and NFC. The 645M may get me back on the Garmin train.

    • Mike Richie

      My experience is pretty much the same as yours. But, there is not really anything stopping most of the Garmin goodness to get baked into a single app (even one in a future release by Apple). Apple does, I believe, use exactly the same HR and GPS data that end party apps, however they may then modify that for display purposes. The data itself is written to the heath store, which is where you access it. I believe the new API gives direct access to the real time accelerometer data, however. I think that Garmin has a definite lead in good, usable, actionable data for fitness purposes, but their business model where all the new goodness is only available to their latest or most expensive watches leaves them vulnerable. The original (or more importantly the second GPS variant ) Apple Watch is still being upgraded and Apple could release software for their latest watch that could compete as a high end fitness watch. (Of course, Garmin could add more advanced features to the 645 or VA3 too, they just haven’t been doing that).

    • Mike Richie

      That’s “3rd party”, damn you auto correct.

    • Mike Richie

      By the way, a 3rd party app could use the force touch for laps. Apple recommends using that for config purposes, but it would make for a very easy lap controller, and do not think it is required.

    • JR

      I keep hearing people predicting the demise of Garmin because AW can “basically” do all the same stuff. But the “basically” matters a lot in this segment. In this case, an always-on screen and physical buttons are a really big deal for runners. Sure, there are undoubtedly people who decide that an AW serves their needs just fine, but remember that the top sports “watch” in the world is still a cell phone, so Garmin has always been selling to people who think that “basically works” isn’t good enough. And, of course, lots of people just don’t want a smartwatch for 24/7 use.

      I’ll admit I’m biased in thinking that the 645 hits a great target market, because it happens to have everything I want and nothing I don’t. I just think a lot of people are displaying the opposite bias: Because this isn’t a watch that suits their needs, they think it’s pointless, doomed to fail, overpriced, a harbinger of doom for Garmin, etc.

    • Paul S.

      Apple’s been “doomed” since 1980. Hasn’t stopped them from becoming one of the worlds largest companies. Having both a Garmin watch (Epix) and an AW3 LTE, I don’t think Garmin is in any trouble.

  38. Patrick

    “….audio books (depending on the source of course).”

    I’m curious to learn more about this. I would buy a new watch (Ionic, 645, Apple Watch 3, whatever) tomorrow if it could support audio books borrowed form the library (like on the Overdrive app). I’m so tired of wearing some sort of belt/strap to lug a phone around just for audio books. First world problems indeed!

    • Ahbe

      Agreed. Although in my case I ran out of Overdrive books from my local library and got an Audible account. I wonder if this could be fixed with a Connect IQ app or more likely a data field for audio books while in a run or other activity? If the hardware is there, is it accessable to Connect IQ?

  39. Matt

    Not sure where my comment went…

    But would love it if Garmin came out with a watch with cellular built in and you could add your own sim. I’ve got a tiny Jelly Pro android phone I use to let me live-track my location. Would be great not to have to carry it.

  40. Tosin

    Why so much Adele?

  41. In your comparison chart, you list the Apple Watch 3 as “NO” for BLUETOOTH SMART FOOTPOD CAPABLE.” This should be changed to “YES – WITH 3RD PARTY APPS,” because you can use the Stryd footpod with the Stryd and iSmoothRun watch apps. It’s worth noting that when you use the Styrd app, it uses the footpod to capture distance and cadence for Apple Watch (not sure if the iSmoothRun app does this as well). In that sense, Apple Watch 3 is compatible with Bluetooth Smart cadence sensors (for running). Kinda getting into the weeds here, but it does seem worth pointing out.

    • Yeah, it’s always mess on how I handle the apps piece there. I’m somewhat hesitant because it ends up spiraling out of control in terms of A) Long term making sure the data is correct (apps come and go), and B) Understanding what’s actually out there.

  42. Joel

    The 64x has Garmin dynamics without the chest strap or pod?
    Did I read that right?

    • It still requires a HRM-TRI/HRM-RUN/RD-POD for the full Garmin Running Dynamics. For just cadence, nothing is required there.

    • Joel

      for the 635 it reads “YES” while on the 935 reads “WITH RD POD, HRM-TRI OR HRM-RUN (NOT VIA OPTICAL HR)”
      So it was confusing.

  43. Alberto

    Giving it a “Hands on” (or “diagonal”) reading, I think it is a very capable watch, specially comparing it with the Forerunner 630 or the Forerunner 235.

    It doesn’t have outdoor swimming or power meter support, but, specially the second one is more higher end than medium end.

    The music it is useful. I tend to run or bike with an older phone as “mp3/fm player” (I don’t like the streaming part mainly because it depends on the internet connection, which is sometimes bad, specially out of the city), but is a plus, but a plus that cost money (because of the “FM” part I don’t own Bluetooth headphones so it cost more money).

  44. Gabe

    I have one question.

    What are MP3s?

    But seriously Ray any discussion of Spotify integration?

    Garmin is just really late to market with music. MP3 downloads are so mid 2000s.

    • Garmin would love to have Spotify on there (just like everyone else). Just a case of getting Spotify to agree to anyone. Heck, if Fitbit couldn’t do it, Garmin would likely be behind them.

    • Gabe

      I’ll be looking forward to one day Spotify Premium Offline content playback on our Garmin watches.

      I have to say lately i’ve never been into running AND music with the new Bose SoundSport Free Wireless earbuds. They’ve been pretty solid!

  45. Grand-Vince

    Do you know anything about the Forerunner 245 ?
    Also it would have been interesting to add the Forerunner 630 in the features’ comparison table

  46. Alan Sickler

    Definitely an intriguing product. How does it handle music from iTunes? Any idea if it works with Apple AirPods?

    As you may have guessed, I’m heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem and my fear is that will lock me out of really using a Garmin watch’s music storage. Right now I’m still using my Fenix 3 HR, which unfortunately works great, no matter how much I want it to break so I can justify a new watch purchase to the wife lol

    • Garmin-Joey

      Garmin Express will use the default music player on your computer to search for music files. If you are on a Mac then Garmin Express will default to the iTunes music library to load on to Forerunner 645.

      While Air Pods aren’t on the “approved” list, they should pair and work as expected. The approved list is only headphones that we have tested and validated, but aren’t the only compatible BT headphones.

      link to support.garmin.com

    • Alberto

      I guess the question is about the DRM protected files

    • Musicdinosaur

      Just wondering if you could clarify that comment – are you saying that I’ll be able to download the iTunes music I’ve purchased to the watch and run with the playlist I’ve been using for the past x years? If so, immediate purchase on the cards. (et vice versa)
      Streaming? Connected? meh!
      MD (Music dinosaur :-) )

    • Mike Richie

      I don’t believe iTunes uses DRM anymore for anything (music) you own. Even iCloud match 256 bit files are downloaded as unprotected mp3s. Apple Music downloaded files are another story.

    • JR

      Does that help if you bought and downloaded the music many years ago? Like a lot of people, I’ve switched to streaming for all but the most obscure stuff, which means my offline library is mostly about 6-7 years old.

  47. Sandiway Fong

    Wonder if it’s Varia Vision compatible. Would be nice if you could actually test it. The Vivoactive 3 was supposed to be compatible, but both units I tried didn’t work. Garmin support couldn’t resolve it.

  48. Stephen Dinning

    Are there any updates to the Fenix watches at CES 2018? Or is this Forerunner watch the only update?

    • Garmin has made all their CES announcements at this time.

    • Matthew B.

      One thing to note from Ray’s last post regarding CES 2018:

      “We’re seeing companies jump the gun a bit, as well as slightly delay to the week or so after. This is mostly because companies are realizing that announcing at CES itself is a double-edged sword.”

      I’m always trying to read the tea leaves (often off base), but I would imagine Garmin could be one of the media savvy companies stretching out announcements so they get more spotlight on places like The Verge/Engadget/CNET. FR645 is definitely more mainstream than, say, a new addition to the Fenix line or even Edge series, and would make sense to actually announce at CES.

  49. MartinF

    This looks very promising. I have been waiting for a true replacement for my old MOTOACTV and have always settled for carrying my phone and having another Garmin. I hate carrying my phone on short runs or race days and I miss the audio feed back(coaching) the MOTOACTV had when you drifted from your planned pace zones during intervals.

    I think Garmin will need to clarify the battery life with and without music turned on. If you choose to not use the music side, you’ll no doubt get much more battery life.

  50. Kyle

    Remember last year when Ray said ” This new Fenix series charging cable will be used for all Garmin devices going forward” That was the excuse to not have it charge on your hand…

  51. Alberto

    Also: It seems Spotify is the king on streaming, so “No Spotify” is a big no for the +50 USD

  52. When is this shipping? Garmin site says 5-8 weeks is that on the high end or can it be delivered earlier?

  53. Mike St Louis

    I’m surprised that Garmin updated this watch and didn’t just drop it. The 235 is getting more and more features at the low end and at the high end there is the 735 and 935. There is a lot of overlap with these products.

    Also the price point of this watch is only a bit higher than the 235. Is Garmin planning to drop that model and make this the new low end running watch?

    Personally I don’t need or want a music player on my watch. I just keep my phone in my pocket which is up to date with the podcasts I listen to while running or on my commute.

    • Dan G

      This. I would rather have seen a comparison to the 235 than the 935, seeing as the 645 and the 935 are not in the same category.

      Is this a replacement for the 200-series? Is it the the new top-of-the-range running watch? Does it have more workout-related features than the 235? Or is it just the same feature set with music added?

    • Ray Sancheezio

      This is not a replacement for the 200 series.

      Garmin has three go-forward running watch price points: FR 35, FR 235, FR 645. Each with slightly different feature sets, mostly in the area of Firstbeat functions.

      Then the multisport, FR935, F5

  54. garyo

    Hi Ray, I am been waiting for this watch to come out for a long time. now that it is here I am wondering if it has been worth the wait. have been using a FR620. Wanted wrist base heart rate and ability to play music without lugging my Iphone.

    Question 1: does it or will it support Pandora, which I already have an account. or do I now have to subscribe to yet another streaming service in IHeart Radio? Already subscribe to Pandora and Apple Music.

    Question: 2: the one main reason I was interested in this instead of the Apple watch is that I already have a pretty extensive data base built up on Garmin connect from cycling, and wanted to continue to use that platform. is there anyway to sync Apple running or cycling workouts onto Garmin Connect?

    Thanks in advance

    • 1) Not at this point. Garmin is trying to get other services onboard, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s some sort of Fitbit Pandora exclusive for at least some period of time. Obviously, about negative zero chance of Apple Music.

      2) No easy method to get from Apple to GC, though, I think some 3rd parties can ‘kinda’ get you there.

  55. Philipp

    I’m surprised that “always-on” does not feature in these comparisons. During competitive sports, I don’t want to irritate my opponents with a blinking watch. And maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I want my watch to always tell the time, without me having to move it.

  56. sercheese

    is there a possibility to listen to podcast during jogging with FR 645 Music?

  57. Michael

    The Fenix 5 is already outdated in just a few months.

    • Technically the Fenix 5 has been out 12 months (or at least 12 months, since it was CES 2017).

      That said, there’s plenty of things in the higher end realm the Fenix 5 does that this doesn’t. Basically, the only things does that the Fenix 5 doesn’t have are Garmin Pay and Music.

    • Anton

      Is there any chance that Garmin will introduce an updated Fenix 5 (x) on CES18?
      I would buy a 5x, but if an updated model comes it would be worth to wait.

    • Mike

      The fenix 5x already exists.

      I am pretty sure we’ll see a fenix 6 at CES 2018, given the past update cycle that garmin’s been on. Realistically, not that much happens each year in this space that would warrant a 1 year cycle. I think even the fenix 3 to fenix 5 update was mostly incremental.

  58. arnold

    Nice watch, finally a replacement for my fr620. Will certainly buy the fr 645 this year, but without music. Really don’t understand how someone can run in an urban area with loads of traffic with music on their ears. Same goes for music while cycling

    • Mr T

      I’ve done it for more than 15 years with zero issues.

    • arnold

      You only seem to look at it from your perspective. Ever tried to look at it from the perspective from other people on the road? Oh no of course not, not your problem if the other person has to react on situations caused by you listening to music while running/cycling

    • Dan G

      Check out ‘survivorship bias’

  59. Eli

    Resolution and memory available to Connect IQ code? CPU speed (well in how it impact Connect IQ) I’m guessing it will be like a cut down 935/f5 as screen shape and buttons are the same. Would be nice if app developers have the same platform to target instead of lots of different variations.

  60. Sarah

    Hi Ray,

    Could you confirm whether or not this has hot keys, similar to the 935? Garmin’s website says it doesn’t but I remember reading a leak a few weeks ago saying it does.

  61. Ian S

    Very interesting. This on a 935xt with more music service integration (i.e Spotify or apple music) would be a definite want one….guess Garmin have their reasons for launching a non-multi-sport first.

  62. Richard

    Great job as always. I started reading, and thought I can finally replace my 920. No power meter support and no multisport mode? Garmin is great at giving its customers MOST of what we want. Can you do a post on potential GARMIN killers? Some of us are weary…

    • Erica

      this is a runner’s watch and 920 is a triathlete’s watch. 935 was announced less than a year ago, so the new features in 645 plus the ones from 920 you like are probably going to be available in the next 9XX series

  63. Taylor

    Could you detail any differences with the backlight and maybe post a picture?

    I have a Forerunner 230, and i’m not too pleased with it. The brightness is not uniform and the colors become quite washed out due to the style of backlight.

  64. Warren Pustam

    I have a 920xt and waiting on a FR with music playback before upgrading. Do you think Garmin will announce a FR tri/multisport version with music storage at CES/anytime soon?

  65. Tom Dirickx

    Does anyone know what the difference is between the US (010-01863-01) and European (010-01863-10) model of the FR 645? Thank you!

    • Garmin-Joey

      The parts numbers are for different color bands. The difference between the US and European models is specific to the packaging material on the box and language options of the Quick Start Manual.

  66. okrunner

    Help me understand hardware limitation versus marketing issues/decisions. It almost seems as though Garmin purposely cripples devices. In particular, the 645 has Strava live segments but no power meter support. That makes no sense whatsoever. In my humble opinion, most anyone who rides enough to embrace live segments is going to want power meter support. It’s certainly a deal breaker for me to replace my 3hr. It also makes this a hard sell against an Apple watch for just a runners watch as the Apple is $120 cheaper, not to mention Tom Tom’s products. Second, the Motorola Motoactv had 8 and 16 gigs of storage respectively back in 2011, it was $250, it had both ant+ and bluetooth sensor support, wifi, and it had power meter support. Why, seven years later Garmin can only put 3.5 gigs into this thing but wants $200 more? Computer memory in every other device has dropped significantly in price since 2011. It just seems that enabling power meter support would costs them nothing and issuing the 645 with 16 gigs of memory would cost them about $3 versis 3.5 gigs. What am I missing on these issues? Thanks for any reply.

    • Matthew B.

      Strava live segments is likely focused on runners, not cyclists (in this device). Apple watch comparison is fair.. sort of. But the Apple watch really isn’t that great of a running watch for a serious runner: no dedicated buttons, short battery life, inaccurate, not always-on screen, etc.. TomTom’s products were always interesting but were quirky and never quite worked right (for me). As for the Motoactv… well, the Motoactv doesn’t exist for a reason. It had waterproofing and all sorts of issues.

      Lack of PM support is purely a marketing decision, but if they enabled it, it would cut the legs off of the Fenix 5 and FR935. There is literally no financial reason for them to do so.

    • Robin

      Perhaps I’m an outlier but I love the Strava Live segments on my Edge 520 and I don’t have a power meter (and not likely to get one anytime soon). I’m not riding to collect any KOM’s but I enjoy trying to collect PR’s and trying to catch some of my friends on Strava.

      I run as well (FR235) and my next watch will have Strava live segments too for the same reason. I’m more thinking of the 935 at this point and getting rid of both my current devices to help fund it. Realistically, that won’t happen for a while, perhaps I’ll get the 945 in a year or so.

    • the5krunner

      Hi Bro’

      to answer your questions: garmin probably could easily put more memory in and PM support would lead to cannibalisation of 935 sales.

      classic cases of increasing profits and product differentiation respectively

      admittedly the relatively low memory is strange for a top-end watch, maybe there is some other technical reason as you initially suggest?

  67. Sam B

    Which navigation features of 935 is missing in the 645?

  68. Edwin Aerts

    Hello Ray

    In my opinion one of the big differences between the Vivoactive 3 and Forerunner 645 is battery life with GPS on: 13h vs 5h(!?) (according to Garmin website). This makes the 645 relatively useless for endurance activities (e.g. cycling). Despite new added features this is a break down for cyclists, … compared to Vivoactive 3.
    What’s your opinion? Have you been able to verify these values?

    Kind regards

    PS Cool bike: not too surprised when shifting from SRAM front derailleur: pushing both buttons simultaneously?

    • Mike

      The 5h figure is with music on. Since the VA3 does not have music, the valid comparison is 14h 645 GPS-only vs. 13h for VA3. That said, I am really surprised that it’s only 5h with music. In my experience, the Apple Watch (non-LTE) does 3.5-4.0h with music+GPS+OHR and it has an OLED screen. I would have expected the 645 to be substantially better than 5h, given it has a conventional LCD screen.

    • Remember: The OLDEN screen isn’t on 99% of the time during a workout for the Apple Watch, only when you raise your wrist.

    • Ray Sancheezio

      ^^ this ^^
      There is a substantial difference between an always-on and always-off screen, IMO.
      95% of wearable shoppers do not consider this until post-purchase.

  69. ReHMn

    “The pink band is technically called ‘Cerise’ by Garmin, which ironically enough, is simply French for ‘Cherry’. ”

    Nope, Ray. It is Garmin’s reverence to the Girl!

  70. James

    Thanks as always for the great preview. Where in the world does this leave the Forerunner 2XX series? It would seem extraneous now with the Vivoactive 3 out there. The only difference would be the hardware buttons. Garmin clearly is making a money play here, charging $50 more for music capability in what I would argue is almost certainly identical hardware for the two 645 models. I have to wonder if they plan to keep it a premium feature of the premium 645 and either eliminate it from a 245 or skip releasing the 245 altogether.

  71. Who is going for a run listening to Hello by Adele? Odd choice for the screen…. there’s got to be some better cardio music to get the heart pumping and legs kicking……

    “But when I call you never seem to be home”

    YEAH? Because I’m training for an ultra and need to get in my long run today!

  72. Cj

    How does size compare with fenix 5s?

    Prefer a smaller watch, that’s why i’ve stuck with fr35, and not fussed by multisport so this could be a good option for me, but if 5s smaller, might still go for that.

  73. Brian Thompson

    I am excited about the addition of music…although I really want it to be added to the next version of the Vivoactive at around a $300 price point hopefully.
    I have long used Garmin watches but what I find incredibly frustrating about them is they always seem to remove significant functionality as they add new features. Why can’t they simply improve their products? They have such a ridiculous lineup of products now. As a result, every time I am ready to buy a new watch I find myself looking for an alternative to Garmin simply because I can’t stand the constant finagling with their product line up. I never know what feature set I’m going to find in the next version of the model watch I am using. From my point of view it would be much better to have 4 or 5 models tiered at different prices…say $50 apart at each tier, and that increase in money simply adds more features. What we currently have is such a mishmash where some higher end models lack features they previously had the year before. Even more confusing is when some of these features are still present on lower end models, forcing the consumer into a no-win situation at times.

  74. Pawel

    hey Ray, would you pick this one or Apple Watch as a daily device?

    Also – did you manage to find out if Descent MK1 is arriving anytime soon?


    • Not sure, but I’ve been enjoying wearing this smaller/lighter device. My only gripe with the Apple Watch as a daily watch is the charging aspect.

      I don’t see Garmin till a bit later today at the media event, so haven’t had a chance to ask them.

  75. Scott Hunter

    Does the lack of magnetic compass limit this watch’s navigational capabilities? As a keen walker, one of my favourite features of the 935 is the ability to save a current location or known co-ordinates as a waypoint and navigate to it. Does the software on the 645 allow you to do this?

    • Tim J

      The website lists a compass as one of the 645’s included sensors. I assume this means an actual magnetic compass. Would be good if Ray could confirm.

    • Scott Hunter

      Ray’s comparison table shows that it’s not included on the 645?

    • Tim J

      He has left it blank, which I guess means he’s still investigating. Normally it would say N/A (235), GPS(735), or Magnetic (fenix5/935). Note however that my 235 supposedly has no compass, but seems quite capable of giving me a directional heading even with GPS turned off. Not sure how that works!

      In any case, the 645 shares seems to share the fenix5/935 hardware platform on other items, so I’m hoping that means a magnetic compass too.

  76. Mr. Adele


    It’s me. I was wondering if after all these years… if Garmin was finally going to add music to a device.

    I’m in California dreaming about when I hesitated on purchasing the 935 because it didn’t have music.

    I’m not as upset as I thought I would be when the music was finally added. I had the MotoActiv, I had the Adidas SmartRun, I had the music and the promise of using one of the streaming services that never really worked. I hope Garmin can pull it off but currently it looks to be much more of the same thing I’ve already seen.

    • Mr. Adele

      On an added note. It will be interesting to see if a CIQ app could take over as the music player. Maybe a way for Google Play, Spotify or whoever to put their service on Garmin devices (though I doubt they would bother).

  77. John Kalicki

    Will this work with Google play music?

  78. John Kalicki

    Will this work with Google play music?

  79. Hugo McHugh

    Thanks for the review. Probably daft question but do you still need to take your phone for Livetrack to work?

  80. pat

    Thanks Ray! When I upgraded from the Vivoactive HR to the vivoactive 3, the significantly weaker vibration strength of alerts and alarms as felt on my wrist made me return it. There are a lot of garmin forum comments on the VA3 about the vibration issue. Are the vibrations stronger in the 645 vs the VA3 at the highest intensity? Also, can heart rate zones be made audible using bluetooth earbuds?

  81. Cruz

    As usual, good pre review on this new Garmin device, I just hate the fact that you need a different charging cable. We have 5 Garmin products and they all use a different charging/data cable.

  82. Thomas B

    Is the actual screen size / real estate the same for all three Garmin FR630-FR645-FR935, pictured above. How about the Fenix 5?

    • Tim J

      Had the same question so I looked them up on Garin’s website. 645, 935 & fenix 5 screens have same 30.4mm diameter & are fully round with 240×240 resolution. Can’t say if they look identical though. 630, 235 & 735 have very slightly larger 31.1mm screen, but it has flat spots on top and bottom & lower resolution.

    • Thomas B

      Thanks for the reply!

      Any info how the display looks? I mean, I have a 235 which is okay indoors and good outside. The watch’s light is terrible. Can anyone offer a comparison to the 935 in this regard?

    • Robin

      I’ve read a few comments about the light on the FR235 on this and other threads. I don’t have any issues with mine. Perhaps it’s because my daily wear is just an automatic watch with lume on the hands.

    • Thomas B

      Well, regarding the light on the FR235… maybe I’m too picky, but just too much like a standard digital watch and lacking the “pop” I’d expect from a modern smart watch.

    • Tim J

      I also have the 235. It has been great, but I agree that the display is dull. I think Garmin, understandably, goes for battery life over display greatness. In looking at Ray’s picture above, the 645 looks like it has higher contrast and “pop” than the 630, and maybe even the 935. So there’s reason to hope.

    • Thomas B

      Hopefully someone can weigh in on this who has seen or used the different models…

  83. bobby

    How does the weight compare to the 620 or 630?

  84. Michael Swann

    “But a tall pasty looking male living in Paris with a bright pink wristband gets some odd looks, and then some odder questions/statements”

    Imagine if they knew you were listening to Adele while running. More questions would be asked.

  85. Patrick

    How useful is the training load? It seems the reviews on this are mere mentions. I do multiple sports (not tri) and would like a way to compare workout contribution to fitness. Sounds good, but how functional is it for folks?

    Also, most my running is trail running, but I don’t see that as an activity. Does this affect any of the functionality of the watch?

    • We can’t speak to the usefulness of Training Load as this would be different for each customer but we encourage you to read further on how this is calculated and how you can use this to aid your training here: link to garmin.com

      You can use the regular Run app to record any runs outdoors or you will be able to create a custom app and title it Trail Running. Either way, you can alter all of the settings specific to that app to fit your needs.

    • Gabe

      Garmin-Blake when is Training Status being shared across devices?

      Many of us run and bike and have a forerunner (935) & an edge unit (edge 1030)

  86. Andrew

    Can I download the latest DC podcast to this watch? /sarcasm

  87. Pavel

    Hi Ray,
    will the watch cache music from Deezer/iHearRadio automatically (for example, like Apple Watch does – music is synced when watch is charging and connected to a wi-fi network) or do you need to go into the app and specifically tell it to do so?

    • At present you must go to the Music page from your watch when in range of WiFi and tell it to sync things. I’m not sure though if it’ll do it when you do a generic WiFi workout sync.

  88. RodP

    I have a 235, wear for daily watch too. generally good for me except I question the GPS in mountains. Been wanting watch for 8-12 hr GPS ultra or adventure race events. Now I have choice of 635 or 935. Any clear winner on the GPS and altimeter readings? My running buddies swear by their suunto Ambit3 and ambit2, but they seem to measure longer distance and have different altimeter readings on our runs together. I’m partial to Garmin Connect because it’s what I have used. Don’t know what to believe in terms of accuracy-any final recommendations from you all?

  89. sercheese

    about the drops outs FR645 + Bluetooth Headphones. It really concerns me! I understand you need more battery but when you release this kind of running watch than I’m awaiting that it works as it should. If I understand correctly, Jabra has master side on the right side? that makes them useless for me, as I am old fashioned, wearing my watch on a left side. Where is the list with validated headphones and is one of the points there this “left/right” thing? It will be quite annoying to search for this “left/right side compatibility” and it shouldn’t be the reason while I choose one headphones over the other one. Disappointed.

    • Here’s a current/draft list from Garmin. It’ll likely grow/change/etc as they get closer to shipping.

    • sercheese

      thank you for your quick answer! but from Garmin site, still, how is it not possible to drive a signal enough strong to don’t loose the connection in 1-2m distance?? also considering the battery restrictions. the headphone have their own battery. It doesn’t make sense :(

  90. Robin

    What’s the difference between the “running” profile and the “trail running” profile? Is it just a means to have different default metrics displayed depending on which sport you chose.

    • Scott Hunter

      They’re essentially the same except the data fields are customised to show elevation gain and vertical speed. You can also enable GPS+Glonass which may help with position accuracy if you are running in an area with dense tree cover.

    • Robin

      Thanks! Thought that something like that was the case.

    • Tim Grose

      On the 935, VO2 Max changes are disabled in the Trail mode – largely to reflect that the algorithm does not work well in that environment. One assumes will be similar on this watch.

    • Patrick

      I hope so. looked at the information available and have not seen a trail mode that would presumably disable vo2max like the 935.

  91. Kristian

    Finnaly a barometric elevation sensor on a runners watch! This looks perfect for trail/mountain running.

    Just wondering what you mean by:
    “note that this is a bit stripped down from a Fenix 5. For example, you don’t have as many navigational options like you do there.” ? Whats missing?

  92. Scott Hunter

    Will this support Apple AirPods?

  93. koegs

    I really would love to see that watchface on my Vivoactive 3, any possibility to do that?

  94. Alessandro

    Forerunner 645 at 399$->399 euro
    Forerunner 935 at 499$->549 euro
    Euro vs dollar 1,20 (today)

    • The problem is that warranties are different, and this is often overlooked when this type of comparison is made. For US folks, you get a 1-year warranty. For EU folks, you get a two year warranty.

      All of which ignores other elements like import taxes/cost of workforce/etc… Living in Europe, things simply cost more than the US. There’s ways it works out elsewhere, but at the end of the day we’re going to pair more for devices in Europe than in the US.

    • Alessandro

      So we have to pay F645 449 euro (no music) and 499 (music)…..
      I can’t understand these 50 euro-difference for F935 (no on 645, no on fenix 5… etc)

  95. Edwin Aerts

    Hello Ray

    Is there a list of configurable data fields on the FR 645 available?
    Are they the same as on Vivoactive 3 or FR 935?
    Thanks for adding it.


    • There are dozens of data fields available for this product, and a full list will be published with the Owner’s Manual. We hope to have this online at garmin.com very soon and apologize for the inconvenience.

  96. Kallaen

    What does this watch offer, beside the music part, that the 735 doesn’t already offer? I’ve tried looking at the comparison chart, but I can’t figure it out. And do we know if any other new watches are going to be out in the near future? Hopefully they will announce something at CES.
    Looking to replace my soon to be 2 years old, 235 watch.

    • Dan G

      The barometer, I believe, and thus Garmin running power with the appropriate Garmin HR strap or pod. But as Garmin running power appears to be garbage I don’t think that’s a big deal.

      Why do you want to replace your 235? What doesn’t it do that you feel you need?

    • Kallaen

      Running dynamics and the fact that the watch isn’t new. And it’s getting closer to a point where if I want any decent money for it, I have to sell it.

      But I might be wrong on the last part… Though I’m eager to see what else Garmin have in store in the near future!

  97. Vranken Stijn

    Finally indeed.

    I have been waiting for this watch for some time.
    My FR235 is starting to a bit wonky.

    Would this be advisable for runner (mainly) and cyclist (secondary)?

    Kinds regards & best wishes for the new year

  98. Adam

    Looks like it’s time to sell my Fenix 5X which I just got, I barely used the Fenix to it’s full capacity and this watch seems perfect. I never run with music but this would be a good option to workout with as far as lifting goes.

  99. CJ

    $450, no thanks. No where close to being worth that price.

    • JR

      Not to you, perhaps, but to lots of people. It’s a huge step up from the 630, which debuted at $450 years ago, and this has the absolutely #1 most requested feature in a Garmin watch. It’s also cheaper than the Fenix 5 and Forerunner 935, which only have a couple of additional features that are mostly irrelevant to runners and runners who only do other sports casually.

  100. Adam

    Is there more watch face options?

  101. Paulo Machado

    Nice and spot on review, as usual.

  102. BravoPapa

    Great article Ray and looking forward to the “retail unit” review.

    I was about to push the button on a VA3 (literally this weekend) but now want this as would like phone free runs.

    However, I will also use this as a daily watch and really prefer the “slate” bezel of the VA3. Do you think this will be coming to the 645?

    Also is I went 645 over VA3 what if anything is missing from the VA3 or reason to now choose it other than price?

  103. Jeff T.

    Anyone know what is the official release date.

  104. ekutter

    Unfortunately no golf mode. Plenty of runners that are also golfers so this limitation seems silly. This would have been the perfect replacement for my wifes VA2 + FR910 combo. 935 is still bigger than she is willing to wear as an every day watch. The cheaper VA3 but with too many other limitations (including battery, screen customization) does have golf.

  105. fougera

    So who has the best music functionality so far 645, Ionic or AW? Just curious on overall experience and performance of music and how it stacks v. Competitors.

    • Dan G

      It’s going to be Apple, isn’t it? It’s just in their DNA in a way which isn’t the case for Garmin or Fitbit.

    • Long Run Nick

      I have never run with music in my nearly 42 years of road running(over 88,000 miles), but picked up a Fitbit Ionic and Aftershokz Titanium. works great, I can listen to music and have situational awareness. Problem with the Ionic is you can only download 3 stations from Pandora, and it is a true PIA to get the stations on the watch. The Aftershokz are great -2 hour charge time-over 12 hours of music play time. Bone sound works.
      Being a Garmin guy, I will be “forced” to buy the new music Garmin. Currently running with both the VVA 3 and the Ionic. I have been pleasantly surprised that they both are pretty close on GPS and wrist HR. Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in the items I mentioned.
      Hey Ray, keep up the great work. Nick

    • Mike Richie

      For the overall best experience – the AW cellular and Apple Music. Streaming of any music direct to the watch. I still use Spotify, but I may need to switch.

    • Scott Hunter

      Personally, neither. Save your watch’s battery life and get an iPod Shuffle – if you can live with a headphone cable. It weighs just 12 grams, costs just £40, and the battery will last 15 hours. It’s shame Apple discontinued it.

  106. Jeff Noon

    I see the table says it does not record HR underwater for swimming. Does this mean that it will not work with the HRM-Swim at all? How will not having the HR data for swim workouts affect the training load calculations?

  107. glacios

    Very nice preview. The only information we did not get is the size of the watch. The 645 seems even smaller than the 5S.

    Furthermore i suppose the watch does not support the power reading in indoor cycling trainers which is a shame. Every mid level smart trainer supports power readings. That is the only thing that holds me back.

  108. Mirko Surf&Run

    Disappointed about optical HR of the Garmin 645. No step forward, maybe one step back.

    • Mike Richie

      Probably not a step back, Ray was testing a beta version.

    • Mirko Surf&Run

      I hope so, but in Italy we say: “il buongiorno si vede dal mattino” , I think you could translate with “you see a good day from the morning”.
      After the small improvement of the Fenix 5 and FR935 over the previous model, I was expecting at least another small improvement, not a step back (see the graph of the run of Ray in the new review of the Scosche Rhythm+ 24h).

    • John Kissane

      Yes the HR graph you mentioned in the Scosche review does look bad, guess will wait to see a full review of the finished product. However as an early buyer of the 620 I know just how bad Garmin products can be in their first 6 months until the bugs get ironed out!

    • Patrick

      I tested the Vivoactive 3, 5S and 935 for a few weeks. The wrist OHR results were similar among them and unacceptable, and threw off the metrics that relied on heart rate. I realize wrist OHR results vary by individual, so maybe its me. I found particular trouble when descending mountains, when the watch would read 30iish bpm high. I am going to try a Polar product next, but I keep looking back at Garmin because I think they offer the best watch and have some tempting features (except maybe the OHR). I am willing to accept needing to record via chest or arm strap, as they don’t bother me other than I have to plan ahead when I need to wear one, which isn’t a big deal. I am a little leery of products like these overpromising to keep up with or ahead of the competitors, but under delivering in actual functionality. Since results are so personal, its best to go somewhere that has an excellent return policy.

    • David Michaud

      OHR should really only be used for resting HR. It’s just way too unreliable during sport. We need Garmin to put more Effort into a peel and stick chest HRM. It would eliminate the strap while keeping the benefits of battery and accuracy. The medical tape already exists and can last 7-10 days under water. Why doesn’t this already exist at Garmin. It’s been in hospitals for years.

  109. Barry

    This. This is finally the watch to replace my 235. Just the things I need in the size I want without the bloated features I don’t want.

  110. jamie

    does it support Stryd or the Garmin RD-pod?


    • Brian Simpson

      Ray just to confirm – your response above says the 645 DOES support Stryd however the other part of your overview says the 645 does not support power meters.

      So in this instance the Stryd pod is not considered a power meter? In the product comparison chart under the BLUETOOTH SMART FOOTPOD CAPABLE section it does indicate YES for the 645 – is this the designation for Stryd? So maybe just distance and not any of the other Stryd running metrics?

      Thanks in advance.

    • It’s referring to the industry standard specs in this case, so nothing off-track like Stryd/RunScribe in terms of running power or footpod advanced metrics.

      Thus, with Stryd/RunScribe, you’d use their ANT+ connections and Garmin Connect IQ.

  111. Marian

    Hello, nice review. My first time here but after going through some posts I must say this blog is really awesome. One question – I have never used garmin wearables and now considering to purchase Garmin 645 Music. Is there any way to track roller-skate workout? Now I am tracking it with my Iphone & Endomondo, but not sure if there’s any way to track it with garmin.

    Thanks for advice guys!

  112. Daniel

    I was looking for a device I can record my rowing (both indoor and outdoor) as well as cycles and runs. I thought it was going to be the Vivoactive 3 but this seems to be identical. Does this still cover usual daily tracking and outdoor rows? If so, this may well be a no brainer.

  113. John B

    Excellent review. Is there an audio metronome that we can hear without headphones? Essentially as I work to slowly increase my cadence to 180 steps per minute.

  114. Nathan Simpson

    You mention you can pair multiple sets of headphones but you have two sets connected and being used at the same time?

  115. Scott Hunter

    One thing I would add about the music: I don’t think I would upgrade from a 935 purely for this feature. The iPod Shuffle is perfect for running (provided you don’t get it too wet) and very cheap. Also, if you use the Apple EarPods which come with the iPhone, you have a useful remote control which is really easy to use while running. It’s a shame Apple discontinued the Shuffle – they probably want people to buy the AW3 and AirPods instead.

    • Ken

      Look at SanDisk mp3 players; dirt cheap, 8 or 16gb versions, bluetooth or wired, size of a shuffle, w/ screen, FM (gym TV audio), & some even have microSD slot to increase memory.

  116. Nice and clean watch face. I have tried to search for an equivalent for the Fenix 5 but with no success. Anyone know if there is a close-by version?

  117. Andrew Kee

    I purchased the latest Wahoo Kickr, the Apple TV 4k, and have subscribed to Zwift. I have the older Garmin cadence sensor which is ANT only so am using the Wahoo cadence sensor that came with the Kickr. The power/cadence display in the Zwift app is erratic. Power jumping from say 80 watts to 300 watts, and the cadence going to zero back up to actual, and then dropping to about half actual rpm. And I have not yet tried to pair my garmin HR monitor.

    Do you have any suggestions on what might be a configuration error to cause this erratic situation?

  118. Nathan B

    I really like the look of this as a dedicated running watch and fitness tracker.

    I also have an Edge 520.

    Do you know if there is any update with devices syncing recovery stats etc across watches?

    Eg, If I record the ride on my 520, will it update the recovery time on the 645?

  119. Jamie Keiser

    Any feedback here is appreciated and I realize that Garmin has yet to release all the details of this watch (no manual yet) and there are not the scores of user reviews like the other Garmin watches.
    What does the Fenix 5s do that the 645 doesn’t? Can I add activities like mountain biking, open water swimming, hiking, etc?
    I am on the fence – I bought and compared the Fenix 5s and 735x and decided on the Fenix 5s but didn’t pull the trigger as I knew that at CES there might be a new product and now I am back to the drawing board.
    I had the 630 and am looking for the next watch. Being a female with very small wrists (under 6″) the size and weight are a concern. I love the Fenix 5s as I want white like my 630 but it’s big and heavy. I also want to be excited on a watch where I am spending this kind of money. That it is a nice watch to wear daily and does it’s fitness job (the music thing isn’t a big deal for me). I am a runner, road/mountain cyclist, hiker, some swimming (pool and open water).
    Any feedback is appreciated. I am on the fence on what to get. I loved my 630 (it was stolen) but don’t see why I’d buy that when there are better options out now.

  120. Callis

    Thanks for the review (uhm… update). I presently run with a TomTom Spark with Music. The only reason I chose this watch was for the on board music capability, but kept wishing it had controls and functions like my Garmin. I’m excited to hear that Garmin is finally coming out with music capability and looking at your specs, it appears that the battery will last running a marathon and playing music. Currently my TomTom makes it to about the 20 mile mark (based on about a 4:30 marathon time) before it runs out of juice with the tracking and music on.

    • Jeffrey Yen

      Unfortunately 5 hrs is not enough for me to run a marathon (in the tropics). Hopefully the engineers can do something about this; 5hrs is really cutting it too close. The worst thing is to have the Garmin run out of battery at the last stage of a marathon.

  121. Bart Martens

    Dear DC Rainmaker,

    My compliments for your extensive review, highly appreciated. I am a used to my Apple Watch 2 and Runkeeper, but this is not a good combination for a real runner, more for a gadget person. I have lost several runs over time, can’t export all my data, the Apple Watch touch screen is crap as I have to force a screen lock to avoid unwanted touches during the run which stops my recording…which I often find out after the run. So I am looking to a new sport watch. The 935 has a lot of nice features, but I consider the size to big for daily use on my arm. The 645M is a nice alternative, however I have a couple of questions about the Garmin watches in general and this one in particular.

    1. If I want to record the indepth running dynamics for which you need the Garmin Pod or HRM belt, is it also possible to use any other HRM belt like one from Wahoo or any other ANT+ belt which does record this, or is this a specific Garmin solution, so watch + belt?
    2. As I run long distances in new places I often don’t know the area or route. Can I prerecord the route as gpx in e.g. Strava, Garmin Connect and upload it to the watch. And that during my run the watch gives me just a signal when I need to turn. So no real navigation, but a kind of way point navigation, but all prepared upfront behind my computer?
    3. How is the screen brightness alike when using the watch as normal watch, so not during a sport activity?



  122. Another helpful write-up, thanks!

    I have a 735, so it sounds like I loose open water swimming (to date, I don’t swim) and multi-sport (to date, have never used), but gain music.

    Gaining music is a huge bonus. No need to bring phone (strapped to arm).

    Money aside, is the 645M an upgrade or a downgrade from the 735?


  123. Goncalo

    Awesome review!

    Just wondering if it would be possible to sync with audible over wifi?

  124. Jeff T

    Is the screen display size the same size as the 945? I currently have the FR945 but is so tempted to get the 645 with Music. The 645 seems to have the same feature set and metrics offered by the 945 and since I mainly run and swim, I don’t need the multisport mode this may be the watch I’m looking for. Only think missing on it would be LTE.

  125. Anton

    @DCR: You wrote that Garmin already made all annoucments at the beginning of the CES.
    What do you think.
    Is there any chance that Garmin will introduce an updated Fenix 5 (x) during the rest of time in CES18?
    I would buy a 5x, but if an updated model comes it would be worth to wait.

    • Stefan

      I’d also be interested in that. I’d like a Fenix, but not without NFC and with the ongoing ANT-troubles…

    • For virtually every company a CES, all announcements are made at show open (or prior to it). Announcing something later in the show is a failboat, because it means that media/retailers/etc that visited said booth didn’t know about the product, and thus didn’t write/talk/etc about it.

      The singular exception to waiting on an announcement at CES till later in the week is for companies doing major CES Keynotes (like, *the* keynote of that day/night for CES). Companies like Intel, Ford, Google, etc… And usually, these are less product announcements than more ‘concept’ announcements.

      In the case of Garmin, all CES announcements were made Monday morning at 7AM EST. They were made Monday morning, as to allow for the evening CES PEPCOM event that Garmin was at, which is a media-only event. Since they were showing the units there, it had to be ‘announced’ prior to the official show floor opening on Tuesday morning.

  126. Tod Cox

    Any discussions of adding the “respond to text messages” feature to the FR935 with future software releases?

  127. RD75

    Great review, did you find that the battery life was as per the specs? I have the 235 and love the battery life but would prefer reduced battery (as long as it isn’t significantly reduced!) for the addition of the music.

    • It’s honestly hard to say at this point for me. Mostly because at this stage I was charging it a lot. Not so much charging it, but dorking with music and such, so it was often plugged in one a day or so for even a short period of time. I’ll definitely do some battery life tests in the coming weeks.

  128. Thomas B

    I read elsewhere that Amazon Music is supported on the 645 … truth or fake news?

  129. Marios

    do you by any chance know if it supports chapters on podcasts? some super long (1h+) can be skipped backwards and forwards to chapters.

  130. Sam B

    Thanks for a great review with detailed info; Much appreciated! Do you find the 645 to be as comfortable to wear all day as the 935? [To me the 935 feels more comfortable than the Vivoactive 3 even though it’s larger] Are the vibrations on the 645 as strong as on the 935 or closer to the light and gentle vibration of the Vivoactive 3? Thanks!

    • Just as comfortable, no issues at all there. And no issues on vibrations. I don’t have the watches all side by side to validate exactly which vibrations are slightly stronger or lighter than the other, but never missed one and doesn’t feel too strong either.

  131. Luís Pinto

    From your tests are better GNSS accuracy Garmin Vivoactive 3 or 645?

  132. Jeff T

    Does anyone know what is the number of data pages you can have on the 645? is it same as 935?

    • Garmin-Joey

      The Forerunner 645 offers the ability to set up to 11 custom data pages. This does not include options for the Heart Rate page, 2 Running Dynamic page, Time of Day, Virtual Partner, Map, Compass, Elevation, Music (on 645M).

      If all data screens are enabled there is the potential for 20 different pages to be displayed. 11 custom and 9 preloaded pages.

    • Garmin-Joey

      The number of default data pages will also depend on the activity profile selected. Not all default data pages are available for all activities. The information above is based on the Run activity profile.

  133. Andy D

    Please see comparison shots of FR645 and VA3

  134. Andy D

    And now from the front

  135. gl

    Two questions:
    1) I am mainly interested in what is called “announcements” (heart rate, pace, etc.) via bluetooth headsets. Is it correct conclusion that it is possible only with 645 Music? With other (e.g. 935) it is possible only with phone nearby?
    2) How custom announcements can be, what about specific apps. My main sport is sailing (windsurfing). So looking to watch is very limited. Primary goal is to have countdown start via headsets, ideally with real voice counting down. Is it in principle possible? If so – with 645 Music (and 935 + phone)?

    • Garmin-Joey

      Audio Prompts, without being connected to a phone, are only available on the Forerunner 645 Music. If using Forerunner 645 non-music or Forerunner 935 the watch and phone would need to be actively paired.

      The Forerunner 645M offers Pace/Speed and/or Heart Rate alerts directly from the watch. These alerts can best set to go off at each lap or you can set the frequency that they go off, starting at 1 minute. There is not an option for a countdown prompt.

      The Forerunner 935+phone offers Lap, Navigation, Power, Pace/Speed, and Heart Rate alerts. The alerts are enabled and customized in Garmin Connect Mobile.

    • Christian

      Thank you all for the information provided!

      However, I am not fully clear about the audio alert functionality. Is the FR645 providing also audio prompts in case a set heart rate target is missed during exercise (e.g. current heat rate is too high)?

  136. Laurent

    Do you think we could see that Deezer Garmin app on the Fenix 5 range? Does it require a software update or is it hardware?

  137. Nighthawk700

    Question on the menu, where all the items show up in a circle around the watch face. Is this the first Garmin watch that has that menu view? I don’t remember seeing it in other watches (not that I was looking closely).

    • Garmin-Joey

      The Controls menu was first introduced with the in the fenix 5 series of devices. That type of Controls menu is available on the fenix 5 series, Forerunner 935, vivoactive 3, and now the Forerunner 645/645M

  138. Kai B

    Is it possible to control music by the earphone’s controller (volume, next/previous song, …) like Bose has?

  139. Jeff Thompson

    Is the 645 compatible with books from Audible?

  140. Mark

    First, some blatant sucking up – your reviews & videos are amazingly detailed. I really appreciate the amount of time you put into each one to help educate us on all of the pros/cons.

    And your comparison chart seems to be more detailed & accurate than the one on Garmin’s site. You mention both the HRV option & show some of the “Running features” options in the video that aren’t ticked off on Garmin’s site.

    link to buy.garmin.com

    I saw the earlier replies on what’s missing re: “advanced navigation features”. To me, it sounds like things that COULD all be added via apps (which you mentioned you couldn’t test). Has Garmin mentioned if some of this functionality will be added that way (since the hw apparently exists in the device)?

    I’m trying to decide between the 935 & the 645 now. Main interests are hiking & running, but also do circuit training. I assume multisport mode is for something like Tri training (transitioning between multiple sports), and that there’s a normal “workout” option that would work well for the circuit training. Sight N Go (which was called out as NOT supported in the 645) doesn’t seem like a “must-have” to me. But I think I’d want the breadcrumbs for hiking (would love the richer map options in the fenix 5, but that’s out of my range). I don’t actively hate touchscreens, but I think I’d probably be much happier with the button options on the 645.

    Anyone have any advice? Wondering if the hiking requirement means I’m better off with the 935, or should I look more at one of the fenix options instead?

  141. Ivo Meisen


    You mentioned the bands are compatible with the Vivoactive. As they are 20mm, the same as the Fenix 5s, do you think or know if the QuickFit bands from the Fenix will be compatible?


  142. Dave

    Any word on a ship/available date, Ray?

    • Saywhat2

      Ray, did the release date change? Multiple retailers are now saying March and its been mentioned the same timeframe on the Garmin forums without a lot of official confirmation.

      Seems odd its hard to get an official release date from anywhere especially since they are taking orders for it.

    • Not significantly per se, but a bit in terms of the ‘how’.

      I got clarity that Garmin will be shipping the FR645M Black by early Feb (so probably 7-10 days behind original dates) to a select group of retailers.

      However, other colors and other retailers will be March. Fwiw, I did confirm with the CT folks today that they are considered one of those select retailers for the FR645M Black (that’s the music one).

    • Saywhat2

      Ray, thanks again for the update seemed to be a big mystery as always appreciate the insight

  143. Chris

    Hello . I currently own the fenix 5 and Music is really the only Thing I am missing. Is the fenix 5 so much better than the fr645. For me the move more closely together every release. I see it´s only 5 atm waterproof but apart from that? can the fr645 also track hiking. It is not installed by Default according to the Garmin page.

  144. Jason

    Good review of Garmin 645 and thank you! Question if you had a chance to experience uploading music from a Mac with this unit where most music resides in iTunes ? If is there a section/video where this is outlined/covered?

  145. Roy T

    The 645 seems slightly smaller than the 935, 735XT and the 235. Is the screen space noticeably smaller, and do the font sizes seem smaller?
    I really liked the Suunto Spartan Trainer but I could not read the font size.

    • Nighthawk700

      I was looking at this as well. I did a comparison of the sizes on the Garmin site. For physical size, the 935 was 47 x 47 x 13.9 mm, and the 645 42.5 x 42.5 x 13.5 mm. However for the display size, both are 1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter, and 240 x 240 pixels, so it seems the displays are the same.

    • Roy Taylor

      Thanks for your reply, that’s very helpful

  146. BravoPapa

    Will the FR645 eventually come in the slate bezel of the VA3?

  147. Jerry

    How is the music sound quality, say comparing with ishuffle or ipod nano with blue tooth headphone?

  148. Peter

    can someone tell me, if it’s possible to add Climbing or other profiles to this watch?
    I do indoor climbing 2 too 3 times a week and want to know if i can track this activity in a reasonable way :)

    PS: Thank’s for your great work

    • Garmin-Joey

      The Forerunner 645 doesn’t have a built-in Climbing profile.

      It does offer an ‘Other’ profile. This profile can be renamed and customized. It will upload to Garmin Connect as an Other activity that could be renamed or re-categorized later.

    • Peter

      So I’ve to rename the activity every time after climbing in the app, or just once and than it’ll do it automatically?

      Thanks for your answer

    • Garmin-Joey

      Since it isn’t default activity profile, you would need to rename it in Garmin Connect each time an activity is uploaded.

  149. Peter

    Dull, I have to think about that..
    Thank you Joey

  150. Rodrigo

    Hi, how are you?
    Do you know if Garmin is planning to update the 735xt to a software equal/similar to 935, 645 and Vivoactive 3?
    I’m not sure if the hardware would accept the software version.
    Thank you!

  151. Jerry

    How is the sound quality, comparing to iShuffle or iPod Nano with blue tooth headphone? I have a TomTom Spark, the sound quality is terrible.