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Garmin Forerunner 245 Music GPS Watch In-Depth Review

Garmin-FR245-Track-Running-Main-Header

When Garmin first introduced the Vivoactive 3 almost two years ago, I wondered how exactly they’d create a successor to the Forerunner 235. Sure, the FR235 had more buttons than the Vivoactive 3, but ultimately the Vivoactive 3 was a more rounded watch in terms of features. The uniqueness of the  Forerunner 235 had nearly evaporated.

Garmin’s solution for the next version? Surprisingly simple: Just take all the higher end running features found on a Forerunner 645, steal a few more from the Fenix 5…and call it a Forerunner 245. Oh, and add music. Said differently: What was once a $450+  watch a year ago, is now basically a $299-$349 watch. Sure, the reality is more nuanced than that – but that’s the 10-second elevator version of it. More on the specific details in the next section.

Now this wasn’t the only device released today. In fact, Garmin released two others units: The higher end Forerunner 945 triathlon-focused unit and the Forerunner 45/45S, at the sub-$200 price point. Atop that, Garmin also announced new female health tracking – and it’s actually quite impressive how much thought appears to have gone in it – so swing back later today for details on that.  In the case of the Forerunner 245, there are two variants – one with music and one without music. The one without music costs $299, and the one with music $349.

In the case of all these devices, I’ve got standard media loaner units that’ll go back shortly. After which I’ll go out and get my own via normal retail channels. Just the way I roll. If you found this review useful, you can help support the site via the links at the bottom. With that, let’s begin!

What’s New:

Garmin-FR245-What'sNew

As is often the case when looking at new models, I find going through a list of what’s new or changed from the previous edition most useful. Up first is a hands-on review video where I outline these new features, plus show you the interface real-life style.

However, if you’re just looking for the facts (without the video awesomesauce), then below you’ll find my textual list of what’s changed.  In this case of this list, I’m using the Forerunner 235 as the basis for that change. Keeping in mind that a lot has happened in the last few years with Garmin devices, so there’s almost nothing new on the Forerunner 245 that hasn’t been seen on some other Garmin watch already. So again, in comparison to the Forerunner 235 of years past, what’s new is:

– Added Music (for Forerunner 245 Music)
– Added Garmin Running Dynamics with RD Pod or HRM-RUN/TRI straps
– Added PulseOx (pulse oximeter measurement/tracking)
– Added all-day stress tracking
– Added body battery functionality
– Added courses (basic breadcrumb trail navigation)
– Added Virtual Racer (racing a course with set timing)
– Added Virtual Partner
– Added Garmin Coach support (including adaptive training plans)
– Added pool swimming, including workouts and drill mode
– Added strength workouts support
– Added configurable lap banner
– Added WiFi (Forerunner 245 Music only)
– Added Bluetooth Smart sensor support
– Added Garmin Varia radar support (cycling focused)
– Added bike light sensor support
– Added Galileo GPS support
– Added Incident Detection (if you crash your bike it notifies someone)
– Added Safety/Tracking Assistance (you can press button to send help alert to friends/family)
– Added temperature and altitude acclimation behind scenes (used for VO2Max metrics, but not shown as widget like on FR945/MARQ)
– Added new Garmin ELEVATE optical HR sensor (V3, same as MARQ/FR945)
– Added UltraTrac mode for 24hr+ GPS battery life (really long workouts, exact spec TBA)
– Revamped training load features, primarily training effect, status, and load
– Revamped race predictor to be a bit more strict on predictions (more than just VO2Max lookup charts now)
– Increase configurability of data fields, new layouts/pages
– Increased display resolution from 215px to 240px
– Increased GPS battery life to 24 hours in regular GPS mode (or 6hrs with GPS+Music),
– Decreased 24×7 watch battery life from 9 days to 7 days

Phew! Like I said, it’s a bit more complex than just taking the Forerunner 645 features and putting the body of a Forerunner 235.

Of course, at this point you may be trying to understand the difference between the Forerunner 245 and the Forerunner 645 series? No problems, here ya go:

– Forerunner 645 has a barometric altimeter (and thus better elevation metrics)
– Forerunner 645 has stair tracking (due to barometric altimeter)
– Forerunner 645 allows you to get Garmin Running Power (Stryd/RunScribe works with FR245 fine though)
– Forerunner 645 allows more custom data pages
– Forerunner 645 has Garmin Pay contactless payments
– Forerunner 645 has a fancier silver looking bezel
– Both Forerunner 645 variants have WiFi (whereas only FR245 Music has WiFi)
– And…ok, I guess that’s it now

And what about the FR245 up to the FR945? Well, that’s a much more significant jump that’d honestly take a list a hundred items long, but in general the biggies are that the Forerunner 945 (like the Fenix 5 Plus) has full maps onboard, more storage space, way more in the realm of navigation and just customization of the device itself.

With all that sorted, let’s start using it.

The Basics:

Garmin-FR245-MainWatchFace

If you’re coming to the Forerunner 245 from virtually any other Garmin wearable, you’ll find the basic interface the same. Sure, there’s some tweaks to the user interface and a few things cleaned up – but more or less, it’s the same. Still, I’m going to walk through all the basics just in case – better safe than sorry!

You’ll start off on the watch face, which is fully customizable. You can change to a few different built-in watch faces (including tweaking any of the data fields you see on it), as well as download boatloads of watch faces on Garmin’s Connect IQ app store.  Heck, you can even take a photo of an ice cream cone and stick it on there if you want using the Connect IQ app store app.

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The Forerunner 245 has all the activity tracking basics you’d expect – except for one, it doesn’t track stairs. The reason? It lacks a barometric altimeter. This is one of those quirky things where far less expensive units in Garmin’s lineup have that capability, but Garmin is likely purposefully skipping the barometric altimeter here to force you to buy higher end units to get better hiking data (or running power). In any case, you’ve got steps, sleep, heart rate, and now even PulseOx – which I’ll cover in a moment.  All of these are displayed in various widgets that you can quickly access by pressing the up/down buttons (check out the back half of my video up above to see that). Else, here’s a gallery of a handful of widgets.

All this activity tracking data is fed to Garmin Connect Mobile on your smartphone via Bluetooth Smart in the background (there’s no meaningful hit to your phone battery, fear not). And from there, it’s also accessible on the Garmin Connect website.  Further yet, some 3rd party sites and healthcare providers can also receive this data if you’ve authorized them to.

Garmin-Connect-FR245-Steps2 Garmin-Connect-FR245-Steps1 Garmin-Connect-FR245-Steps3

When it comes to sleep tracking, the unit will do that automatically when you fall asleep each night (or day, but it won’t log naps).  This data includes the exact sleep cycle it believes you’re in, which can then be plotted and trended over a wide variety of time frames.

Garmin-FR245-GarminConnect-Sleep-Stats-1 Garmin-FR245-GarminConnect-Sleep-Stats-2 Garmin-FR245-GarminConnect-Sleep-Stats-3

The Forerunner 245 joins the rest of the new 2019 watches (except the Vivoactive 3 Music LTE from January) in having a slightly updated optical HR sensor package, known within Garmin as Garmin ELEVATE V3. While this sensor includes very minor changes to the optical HR side of the equation, it most notably includes the red PulseOx sensor found on a few other Garmin wearables prior to this.

The idea behind pulse oximetry tracking is mostly around high altitude tracking. Though it’s often used in hospitals on most patients as well. Still, the focus here is high altitude tracking for mountain climbing and such. Practically speaking for those of us at sea level, it’s mostly a useless stat. Again, remember Pulse OX is the red light that comes on next to the green lights on the back of the unit:

Garmin-PulseOx-Forerunner245-Red-Sensor

The challenge here with PulseOx is really around accuracy. In the case of a typical medical grade pulse oximetry device, that medical certification is done with the person sitting in a chair very still. The FDA acceptable tolerances are actually surprisingly low (as in, easy), at least compared to what I’d consider acceptable even for sport tracking of heart rate accuracy for example. So you take technology that’s really designed to be done when very still and try to apply it to everyday life and you get oddities. Those manifest itself in the readings you get. My readings are a bit all over the place. For someone like me at exactly sea level, I should be in the 98%+ range almost the entire time, but I’m often in the mid to low 90’s.

Garmin-FR245-Measuring-PulseOx

The challenge is that this is taking readings all day long (not by default, but because I enabled it that way), and some of those are inaccurate. Ideally this technology would be leveraged on the side of a mountain and manually triggered to determine your current state. In that scenario – it’s likely to produce just as good a results any other unit on the market, medical grade or otherwise. Running around town at the grocery store? A bit less so.

Sliding away from sports related stuff, we’ve got a couple of other basics – such as the ability to display smartphone notifications. The Forerunner 245 will leverage the smartphone notification center on your phone to display the notifications from any apps (there’s no limitations here on only being text messages or such). On the watch itself you can then tap to open the message in more detail.

Garmin-Forerunner245-Smartphone-Notifications

You’ll get some emoji shown on the watch, but no imagery like photos or such. Note that unlike the FR945 and Fenix 5 Plus, the FR245 does not support Garmin’s semi-new privacy mode, which will hide the content of notifications until you either turn your wrist towards yourself, or press a confirmation button. The main reason you’d enable this is to ensure that the person next to you on the train doesn’t get to see a text that might not be for their eyes. Perhaps we’ll see Garmin add it down the road.

With that – we’ve covered all the basics, so let’s go ahead and get into the nitty gritty of the sports goodness.

Sport Usage:

Garmin-Forerunner245-TrainingLoad

While the Forerunner 245 is clearly aimed at runners, there’s also a boatload of sports functions that go beyond that. For example – the new indoor pool swimming modes, as well as other indoor sports like yoga or strength training. The goal with this section is to give you all the details you’re looking for on the new sport-specific features of the Forerunner 245.

In the case of the sport modes, some sports have super detailed metrics, whereas others are a bit more bland. For example the detail and focus on running and cycling is strong. Whereas other sports are more just focused on time/heart rate. So again, it varies. In any case, here’s the complete sporting listing:

Run (outdoors), Treadmill, Indoor Track, Bike (outdoors), Pool Swim, Trail Run, Bike Indoors, Row Indoors, Walk (outdoors), Walk Indoors, Strength, Cardio, Yoga, Elliptical, Stair Stepper, Other

In case you’re trying to figure out what might be missing from higher end units, it’s lacking modes like skiing (downhill skiing requires a barometric altimeter), as well as numerous outdoor paddle sport modes (SUP/kayaking/rowing), plus triathlon. The FR245 doesn’t have a multisport mode, which means that it’s difficult to use in a triathlon (especially since it doesn’t have an openwater swim mode).

To start a workout, you’ll simply tap the upper right button on the watch, which brings you to the below page where it acquires GPS/satellite, as well as connects to any sensors you may have paired. It’s mildly interesting to me how at the lower FR45 price point, they explicitly tell you to wait for GPS (as you should), whereas on the higher end watches like the FR245 and above, they just assume you know to wait. A brief survey of my comments section reveals this not to be true.

Public Service Announcement: Always wait. For one, you’ll get better GPS tracks, and two, it takes the unit way longer to find GPS if it has to do it while you’re moving.

Garmin-FR245-Run-Wait-GPS

The underside of the watch has the optical HR sensor, which is always monitoring your HR. Generally speaking in sport modes though, companies increase power to the optical HR sensor to get better accuracy.

Garmin-FR245-OpticalHR-Sensor

Speaking of sensors, the FR245 supports a number of sensor types – including now both Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ sensors. Here’s the full listing of sensor types it supports:

Headphones (Bluetooth), External Heart Rate (ANT+/Bluetooth Smart), Speed/Cadence (ANT+/Bluetooth Smart), Footpods (ANT+/Bluetooth Smart), VIRB Action Camera (ANT+), Tempe temperature sensor (ANT+), Cycling Lights (ANT+), Cycling Radar (ANT+), Extended Display (ANT+), RD Pod (ANT+)

It’s actually a pretty extensive list, though it doesn’t support connecting to cycling power meters or cycling shifting systems (Di2/eTAP). You can save/connect multiple sensors of the same type into what’s known as a sensor pool.  For example, if you have multiple bikes, each with their own cadence sensors on them, it’ll save those and automatically connect to them when those sensors turn on.  Additionally, via data fields and apps, companies can create their own sensor types.  That’s most useful when looking at running power meters, like those from Stryd and RunScribe, because the FR245 doesn’t support Garmin’s own running power meter app (since it lacks a barometric altimeter).

Garmin-FR245-Sensors

The sport modes will automatically pickup and connect to the right sensor types for each sport. For example, when you select the running mode, it’ll automatically go and find any footpods you’ve got – but not try and connect to cycling cadence sensors.

Each sport mode allows customization of data fields and other settings. Virtually all the screens are tweakable, to specify which data you want. Most notable with the FR245 is the new Running Dynamics data pages, as well as the ability to put four metrics on a single page.  You’ve also got a breadcrumb map, virtual partner, and music control pages you can add/remove as well.

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There’s also a bunch of configuration you can do around functions like alerts (heart rate, run/walk based on time, pace, time, distance, cadence, calories), metronome, auto pause, auto lap, and auto scroll. For example, auto lap now supports the configurable lap banner, so you can customize the specific data that shows up when the lap is triggered.

Garmin-FR245-Alerts-RunWalk Garmin-FR245-Run-Settings-Metronome

In addition, it’s here you can configure the GPS mode. While at first glance you might think this is just changing from GPS+GLONASS to the new GPS+GALILEO modes, it also allows you to enable UltraTrac:

Garmin-FR245-UltraTrac-GPS-Modes

We’ve never seen UltraTrac on a Garmin watch at this price point before, and it gets you somewhere above the standard 24hrs GPS on battery life (the exact number isn’t known yet, but Garmin suspects it’ll be north of 30 hours once final testing is done). It does this by reducing the GPS sampling time/rate, so it’s not ideal for fast moving activities (like a 10KM race), and should really only be used for things that will otherwise kill your battery in normal modes. It’s good in cases where you’re moving relatively slowly (like hiking) that the reduced sampling rate won’t have a significant impact on it.

With all these setup things out of the way, let’s go back to the main run page and start the darn thing. It’s at this point it’ll start recording your workout and displaying the metrics you’ve configured. Here’s a quick look at what some of those data pages look like:

Most notable in these are the Running Dynamics metrics. Remember you will need a device capable of transmitting those, which could be a Garmin HRM-TRI strap, HRM-RUN strap, or the RD Pod. In my case, I was using the RD pod:

Garmin-FR245-Running-Dynamics-RDPod

Once you’ve completed your workout (by pressing stop, then save) you’re going to see the new post-workout screens. These start by showing a quick outline of your route if outdoors, and some high level stats.  Then lower down you’ll get more detailed stats about different areas, such as laps or a map or training effect. And in fact, it’s the training effect that now shows more detail than before – showing you the exact training benefit of that specific load (workout):

DSC_9988 DSC_9987

This load is then contributed to the Training Load widget that you saw back in the main widget roll:

Garmin-FR245-TrainingLoadPeaking Garmin-FR245-TrainingLoad

The 7-day load shows you the quantified load from your workouts (with a HR strap). The gauge basically tells you whether your over or under training (or training just right). In addition, you can crack open Garmin Connect Mobile and see additional training effect and training load stats there too under the performance section.

In the same area that you found the Training Status in, you’ll see your current VO2Max. While this number frankly won’t change very much (and Garmin seems to have an odd infatuation with it lately), it does at least now account for heat/humidity. Meaning, if you go out and run on a really hot day, you won’t be penalized for it when it comes to why you were going slower with a higher heart rate:

Garmin-FR245-VO2MaxMetric

Why might that matter? Well, VO2Max yardstick measuring aside, that number is combined with your gender and age to determine race predictor values. Previously, these were simple lookup tables with well known ‘best case scenarios’. This meant that you could theoretically throw down a solid 5KM time, yet not have the base miles for marathon. So while yes, your lungs have the potential to hit that marathon PR target, your legs certainly didn’t.

Now though, Garmin looks at your long runs and takes that into account. So if you haven’t been doing the mileage, then your marathon prediction times will account for that.

Garmin-FR245-RacePredictor

In any event, re-winding a little bit to where we left off post-workout, the workouts are automatically synced to Garmin Connect via Bluetooth to your phone or WiFi if you’ve configured that (Forerunner 245 Music only for WiFi). From there you can open it on Garmin Connect Mobile:

Or, on Garmin Connect itself. Here’s a recent workout of mine if you want to poke around by clicking on the link:

screencapture-connect-garmin-modern-activity-3574561516-2019-04-29-23_23_39

In addition, at the same moment these activities are sent to any 3rd parties that you’ve connected to your account, like Strava or TrainingPeaks, among many others.

Finally, Garmin does now offer new adaptive training plans via Garmin Coach, which is their free coaching platform/system. That allows you to pick a target race, and then it’ll give you specific workouts to hit that race. You can select which days you can workout on, as well as your target pace and even preferred long run day.  Most notably, it’ll tweak your workouts based on your actual performance.

I won’t be diving into it in this specific post, however, I did deep-dive into it within the Forerunner 45 In-Depth Review I posted today in the sports section, so check that out there.

Music:

Garmin-Spotify-Sync-Forerunner245

By now, some 16 months after Garmin’s first music-enabled wearable (the Forerunner 645 Music), the act of Garmin adding offline music playback support isn’t exactly news. With the Forerunner 245, there’s two versions: One with music and one without. The Forerunner 245 Music costs $349, while the less Forerunner 245 costs $299 and lacks the music capabilities.

In the case of all of Garmin’s music-capable watches, tunes manifest itself in two basic ways:

A) Manually copied music files: These are saved MP3 files, playlists and the like that you sync via USB cable to your computer
B) Streaming services cached files: These are offline playlists/favorites from music services like Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Deezer, cached for playback when not near connectivity

The music capabilities of all these watches are virtually identical, though they have received minor updates over the last year or so. Be it expanded download limits (effectively, no meaningful limit), or the addition of new services like Spotify. However, there are some other audio features that are only on the higher end units. For example the Vivoactive 3 Music lacks audio alerts for things like pace and laps, which the FR645/Fenix 5 Plus/Forerunner 945/Forerunner 245 Music have.  Second is that the Fenix 5 Plus/645 Music/Forerunner 945/Forerunner 245 Music have the ability to add a music page to your workouts data pages, whereas the Vivoactive 3 Music lacks that ability, adding a couple extra steps to change songs mid-workout.

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But let’s step back a second and talk about how you listen to music. To do that you’ll need a Bluetooth audio device of some sort. Headphones would be most common (I’ve been mixing between an older pair of Beats PowerBeats and $19 Anker headphones), but it also could be a crappy Amazon Basics $15 speaker, or a not-so-crappy Tesla car.  In the Bluetooth audio realm, the world is your oyster (it’s unclear if Apple Airpods are any better compatibility wise with Garmin wearables these days, I tried in vain to purchase some the last week or so, but there’s just about none in stock on this continent).

In order to connect your headphones you can go through a variety of menus to pair them. Be it the normal sensors menu or the music-specific portions, all roads lead to the below. You can pair multiple Bluetooth audio devices if you happen to have that. Of course, only one can be used concurrently:

Garmin-FR245-Music-Pair-Headphones

Once paired up you’ve got two options for getting music onto the unit. The first method is via Garmin Express (Mac or PC), allowing you to ‘watch’ music folders (you can customize which ones), and then select playlists/albums/songs/artists/etc to transfer over.  Note that you don’t technically have to use Garmin Express to move music onto the device. You can just drag it on via other apps as well…like Windows Explorer.

Sure, you can do this, but I don’t bother anymore. I use streaming services 100% of the time these days for listening to music, so there’s little reason for me to load music on it anymore. In any event, the actual process of syncing music is pretty darn quick, but the inventorying of even a small music library can take a heck of a long time.  The Forerunner 245 Music has ~3.5GB free of storage space that you can stash music on.

In any case, next you’ve got your streaming services. These are all technically Connect IQ apps, though Garmin has preloaded some of them. Well, one of them: Spotify. Either way, you can crack open Garmin Connect or Garmin Connect IQ on your phone and add other music services in.

Garmin-FR245-Music-Providers

The way all these works is that they offline cache the playlists that you want, using WiFi. Meaning, even in the case of Garmin’s Vivoactive 3 Music LTE (Cellular), you still can’t stream music via cellular in real-time. You have to download it first. It’s no biggie though, with all these music services you’re more likely to specify a given playlist (likely a dynamic one), and then download that playlist. Setting up Spotify or similar is super easy (here’s a detailed post I wrote on it for the Fenix 5 Plus, it’s 100.000% identical on the Forerunner 245).

Once setup you’ll choose which playlists/podcasts/etc you want to sync (via WiFi). You cannot sync these streaming services via USB (or Bluetooth Smart, which is too slow/bandwidth limited). Then simply let it sync (plugged in works best). After that, you’ll see your downloaded music.

Garmin-FR245-Choose-Music

The way Garmin has designed music on all their devices is via service provider model.  This allows 3rd parties to relatively easily plug into said model.  For example, Apple Music or Amazon Music could reasonably join the platform and it makes it largely transparent in terms of adding additional services.  You see this when you crack open music, as you’ll see service such as ‘My Music’ (the stuff you copied over via USB), or ‘Spotify’ (self-explanatory), all seen as equals here.  Deezer will show up in the same place, as would other services. Expect this list to grow more over the course of 2019, likely in ways that will make you think you’re watching an (yet another) awkward sex scene from Game of Thrones.

In any case, when you first navigate to the music widget (just press up/down from the watch face), you’ll see the current album playing (if any), as well as controls around the edge, like a rotary phone.

Garmin-FR245-Music-Controls

These controls are pretty easy to identify, and include the basics like skip/back/play/pause/volume/repeat and shuffle options, plus the all-important ‘Manage’ option, which is the little settings icon.  By tapping that icon you get into the music providers and headphones areas.

So how does playback sound?

Umm…Like music?

Basically, it’s digital audio over headphones designed for sport while I’m running my ass off trying to keep breathing. Said differently – it sounds perfectly good to me. It’s really going to depend more on your headphones than anything else. Garmin recently (like, last week), added the ability for headphones to now select stereo or mono, so there’s certainly some focus on music quality. I’ve never heard anyone in the last year complain about music quality.

Instead, people have (rightfully) complained about dropouts. And that’s a *much* tougher nut to crack. Like, giant Costco sized nut.

The reason? Everyone is playing the low-power game. Headphones makers are trying to minimize the antenna power as much as humanly possible to save power on a device with a tiny battery. Meanwhile, the wearables companies are fighting the same battle on their end. Battery is everything when you’re talking two devices with tiny batteries.  Compare that to a phone that has a gigantic battery and then can take the blowtorch approach to Bluetooth signal broadcasting.  Alternatively, there’s cases like Apple with the AirPods and the Apple Watch that can implement their own heavily optimized protocols because they control everything end to end.

Garmin-FR245-Music-Track-Beats

Still – I’ve had *zero* dropouts with the Forerunner 245 Music using my older Beats headphones. Which may be dumb luck, but it’s still impressive. Typically speaking it helps if you wear your watch on the same wrist as the antenna in your headphones (all headphones have one side that has an antenna in it, you want that side to match your watch).  Garmin, like all wearable companies, also has a list of recommended headphones. Starting from that list is a good idea, though honestly, there’s plenty of things not on there that work just fine

It’s been interesting to watch Garmin’s music focus over the last year, but I’d argue that aside from Apple’s streaming over LTE capabilities and better AirPods integration, there’s oddly enough no wearable company with as many streaming partners nor as smooth a music experience as the Garmin wearables. They’ve easily surpassed Fitbit in this realm (both in providers and the experience), as well as Samsung (in providers). Something I never would have expected a year and a half ago.

GPS Accuracy:

Garmin-FR245-GPS-Accuracy

There’s likely no topic that stirs as much discussion and passion as GPS accuracy.  A watch could fall apart and give you dire electrical shocks while doing so and athletes will still remain loyal to their favorite watch, but if it shows you on the wrong side of the road?  Oh hell no, bring on the fury of the internet!

GPS accuracy can be looked at in a number of different ways, but I prefer to look at it using a number of devices in real-world scenarios across a vast number of activities.  I use 2-6 other devices at once, trying to get a clear picture of how a given set of devices handle conditions on a certain day.  Conditions include everything from tree/building cover to weather.

Over the years I’ve continued to tweak my GPS testing methodology.  For example, I try to not place two units next to each other on my wrists, as that can impact signal. If I do so, I’ll put a thin fabric spacer of about 1”/3cm between them (I didn’t do that on any of my Forerunner 935 workouts).  But often I’ll simply carry other units by the straps, or attach them to the shoulder straps of my hydration backpack.  Plus, wearing multiple watches on the same wrist is well known to impact optical HR accuracy, thus I avoid this setup! One technique I’ve been using a bit starting this review that has worked exceedingly well is pictured below. How on earth I never thought to place the secondary watches on the outside of my hands (loosely strapped) is beyond me. Note, for those units on my hands, they *are not* using optical HR. Instead, they’re connected to chest straps and other HR sensors.

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Next, as noted, I use just my daily training routes.  Using a single route over and over again isn’t really indicative of real-world conditions, it’s just indicative of one trail.  The workouts you see here are just my normal daily workouts.

I’ve had quite a bit of variety of terrain within the time period Forerunner 245 testing.  This has included runs and rides in: Amsterdam (Netherlands), Kansas (USA), Northern California & Southern California (USA). Forests, mountains, farmlands, and everything in between.

All of the workouts you see here I did with GPS+GLONASS enabled, as Garmin noted that’s the mode they’ve spent the most time on the GPS performance on. They said they haven’t spent as much time on Galileo. However, in my testing of the older FR935 with Galileo, I’ve seen mind-bogglingly good results in the last two months since the bulk of the Galileo constellation went live back in February. Even in places like NYC it’s thrown down some tracks that some of you on Strava have been like ‘Who dis? Holy crap.’. In any case though, for the FR945/FR245/FR45 watches, I kept them all on GLONASS for the bulk of my testing (I did try some Galileo runs/rides and saw less accuracy than GLONASS).

In any case, let’s start off with an hour-long run from two weekends ago:

In any case, let’s start off with an interval run from a few nights ago. In this case the route starts off near some buildings along the canal, and then slowly leaving any buildings in exchange for tree cover the majority of the way. It wouldn’t be considered difficult, but sorta suburban normal. The watches on this run are the Forerunner 935, Polar Vantage V, Suunto Trainer Wrist HR, Garmin Forerunner 245 Music, and Forerunner 45. Here’s the data set:

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It’s a clear out and back. I don’t usually like out and back workouts, because it makes it harder to spot GPS errors, but in this case I think we’re going to luck out. At the high level, things look fine. Still, I see a couple of moments of separation in the track, so let’s go ahead and zoom in:

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For the most part, the units are within 2-4 meters of the path (which is covered in trees with leaves now). Though the FR45 does seem to wander a bit on the outer edge of that realm.  Still, most would consider that nitpicking. More important is that they all handle the 19 car-train-plane-boat who knows what gigantic bridge underpass. They collectively nail it, nobody gets lost and plots a wonky GPS point on the other side.

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Here’s a few brief moments where the Polar Vantage V and Suunto Trainer go for a dip in the lake. The trail edge is directly on the edge of the water, so any mistake is immediately aquatic in nature.

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We see a few other minor course cuttings by the Polar/Suunto devices, but nothing major for the remainder of the track:

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Overall both the FR245 and FR45 did well here – no issues of concern.

So let’s step it up – can they go around a track? Aside from the buildings of Dubai or NYC, it’s the hardest thing for a GPS unit to do properly. The constant turning nature of a track is incredibly difficult to nail perfectly, especially since an average workout might have 20-40 laps. Or, 20-40 opportunities for just one tiny screw-up to immediately be obvious.

In this case, my lineup is the Forerunner 245 vs the Forerunner 945, alongside the Polar Vantage and older Garmin FR935. Here’s that data set:

image

Ahh, interesting – the predominant color we see above is green – for the Polar Vantage V. This is the game where you don’t want to be the most visible color. Tighter is better, less visibility is better. We also see a single errant loop of the FR935 (in Galileo mode). So let’s remove both of those and check out the FR945 and FR245 side by side:

image

That’s not bad. Though interestingly, The Girl was on the track at the same time and had a FR945 and FR45 and got slightly better results:

image_thumb[19]_thumb[1]_thumb

Perhaps my tall frame acted like a gigantic building. Or maybe I was slightly more drunk on the track (actually, I spent the entirety of the workout in lane #1 as it was desolate on the track). Either way, both tracks are very very good with no obvious errors from any of the new units.

Next, let’s head to Long Beach, California for a run around some tall structures and bridges. Nothing like the combination to throw a wrench into things. This data set has a Forerunner 945, Forerunner 245, then a Polar Vantage V and Garmin FR935. Here’s the data set:

image

Once again, boring. Let’s zoom in and try and find someone…anyone….that screwed up their GPS track. We’ll start where I started, with a short out/back loop towards the Queen Mary. We can see the FR245 did stumble very slightly next to the gigantic ship, ending up two lanes away (so…not very far away, just a standard road here). Additionally, back towards the left side we see the Polar Vantage V cut a corner across the park.

image

When it came to the tricky overpass/underpass situations (both of them), the new Garmin units did well. We see a slight bobble by the Suunto Trainer as it approaches the bridge, but nothing major.

image

Looking at the long pier, all the units nailed this without issue:

image

However, the village area as I ran up against buildings was another story. The Polar in orange really struggled here – far more than everyone else. The other units had some very minor (off by 1-3 meters) issues, but nothing like just cutting across a restaurant or two.

image

The remainder of the run portions were all normal as expected.

Let’s head out and do a bit of an hour-long run from two weekends ago. This loop starts off with some minor buildings alongside the canal, and then heads out to farmland and a rowing basin, before I head back past some larger 8-10 story buildings and back home. Here’s the overview:

image_thumb[2]

If we look at the beginning of the route, the only real stand-out here is the Polar Vantage V struggling. But upon closer inspection you see a slight bit where the FR245 doesn’t match the rest (most northern part of the track). At first glance one might blame the FR245, but in reality it was the only one who managed to stay where I ran and not cut the buildings. Good on it. Everyone else saved a few meters.

image_thumb[5]

Coming under the giant railway/car bridges, no meaningful issues:

image_thumb[7]

So essentially in the harder parts it does well, so let’s go out towards the fields. It’s here we see some minor track alignment issues on the part of the FR945 – just a couple meters off the path. And all the units seemed to get distracted by the marina and a small bridge. Not sure what that was all about.

image_thumb[10]

But for the most part, all the units were very close here:

image_thumb[13]

Let’s shift things over to cycling for a ride. Mostly just a single road because all my road-rides with the new Forerunners were frankly spot-on. Kinda boring. I know, you’re looking for NASCAR style crashes of GPS accuracy. But they’re hard to find here.

Here’s the track as we left Amsterdam and headed south through the tulip fields. It was a one-way journey, then taking the train back. Here’s the data set:

image_thumb[17]

Here’s the thing – the results were spot on every single corner or turn. Even capturing going off to find a bush perfectly.

image_thumb[19]

Even this turn here gets the exact bike lane portions to the right correct, though there appears to be maybe 1 meter difference between the tracks as we cross the intersection. Which is like complaining that you’re missing an M&M from a jar full of them.

image_thumb[23]

Ultimately, the Forerunner 245/945 tracks were pretty consistent time and time again when using GPS+GLONASS. I did see more variability with GPS+GALILEO, as well as more variability earlier in the beta cycle, but in the last two weeks as firmware and finalized, things are looking stronger than I anticipated. Again, Garmin noted that they’ve spent the majority of their time on GPS+GLONASS, and not yet focused very much accuracy efforts in GPS+GALILEO.

Which isn’t to say things are perfect. I still think right now the most accurate Garmin device for me (over the past two months) is the Forerunner 935 in GPS+GALILEO mode. But if/when things go wrong for the FR245/945, it’s never a substantial wrong, it’s usually just a minor alignment issue (like being on the road instead of on the sidewalk). Most importantly though, I’m not seeing corner cutting – which was something I saw with both Suunto and Polar (and COROS as well) earlier in their Sony chipset development phase. If there’s one thing one shouldn’t do – it’s cut corners. So it’s good that’s not happening here.

Garmin did note numerous times over the past few months that we should expect more GPS enhancements from them, likely with the usual firmware updates. If the pace I’ve seen from these updates in the last month or two is any indication – then the future is lookin’ good. But today isn’t bad either.

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

Heart Rate Accuracy:

Garmin-FR245-OpticalHeartRate-Accuracy

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

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

For each test, I’m wearing additional devices, usually 3-4 in total, which capture data from other sensors.  Typically I’d wear a chest strap (usually the HRM-DUAL or Wahoo TICKR X), as well as another optical HR sensor watch on the other wrist (primarily the Polar OH1+ and Wahoo TICKR FIT, but also the Scosche 24 too).  Note that the numbers you see in the upper right corner are *not* the averages, but rather just the exact point my mouse is sitting over.  Note all this data is analyzed using the DCR Analyzer, details here.

Note that while I’ve been using the Forerunner 245 for a number of weeks now, I’m mostly going to use recent data in this review – since that’s the firmware that it’s currently on and the production firmware that real world people are using.

Let’s go ahead and start this optical HR festival with the same interval run from a few nights ago. I very specifically designed this to be hard on the optical HR sensor, including 400m and ~200m intervals, as well as build and rest phases to give the sensor as much of a workout as me. The comparison data includes a chest strap (HRM-DUAL), the TICKR-FIT, and then the Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 45. Here’s the data set:

image_thumb[1]

Ok, to start off with – all of the units nailed the warm-up and build without issue. And in fact, the first two intervals seemed to go pretty well also. Everyone was happy up until that point.

However, as we got into the 400’s, you can see the FR245 struggle a bit on the recovery. It easily hits the actual work portion, but seems to stumble on fully recovering. This is somewhat common for optical HR sensors, though not quite to the degree we see on the 2nd interval here. Still, overall this actually isn’t horrible. And the FR45 handled it just fine.

image_thumb[3]

Next in that workout was the 200m sprints. The Forerunner 245 repeated the same inability to find the rest portions, though nailed the work portion each time (which is also somewhat unusual). Usually when optical HR sensors fail, they do so at the very high cadences of a sprint, not the much easier walking portion (these were all walking rests). We also see the FR45 struggle on these shorter recoveries as well. The other sensors have no meaningful issues here.

image_thumb[5]

Next, let’s kick things up for a full track workout of intervals. In this case I was doing 4×800, then 2×400, then 3×200 (because apparently I can’t count to 4). The contenders were the FR245 Music vs the FR945, with the chest strap (HRM-DUAL) and Polar OH1 as validators. Here’s that data set:

image

Wait!!!!

See that funky green line at the beginning? That wasn’t the Polar OH1’s fault, it somehow got flipped up/caught by my t-shirt, so was facing the sky. Once I fixed it, it immediately nailed things. Let’s look at the 800’s first:

image

So both the FR245 and FR945 scary-perfectly nail the build sections, though, like I’ve seen with the FR45 as well – it struggles a bit on the rest portions, being slower than I’d like. But damn – at least it got the important part right. Really right.

Now check this out – this next section is the 400’s followed by the 200’s. You can see a bit more lag coming in from the FR245/FR945, but not a ton by optical HR standards. I honestly didn’t expect it to do this well (because very rarely does Garmin nail shorter intervals like this). Even the recovery isn’t horrible. A few seconds delayed, but nothing crazy.

image

As for the cool-down at the end? No idea why the FR245 lost the plot. Perhaps I was drinking from the bottle of water or something. Either way, that’s sorta like giving a minor love tap while parallel parking. Shrug

image

Now let’s make things a bit simpler – and see how it handles steady-state running. This is an 8 mile long run from a few weeks ago, just cruising along at a relatively easy pace. In this case we’ve got the FR245 vs the FR945 from an optical wrist standpoint, with the Wahoo TICKR-FIT and Polar OH1 on the upper arm, as well as the HRM-DUAL on the chest. Here’s that data set:

image

Well then…that was boring.

Everyone agreed. And – interestingly enough – a picture perfect example of where optical HR sensors can ‘beat’ chest sensors. In this case, a relatively dry day, the chest sensor lagged a bit – incorrectly so.

image

Not much more to say here on that one – all the units worked great. So, moving on.

Let’s head out to Long Beach for a run there in warmer weather. Usually warmer weather is easier on optical HR sensors – but that’s not a given. Sometimes sweat pooling under the watch in between the skin and sensor can cause issues.  Here’s an overview of the run, comparing the FR245 vs the FR945, with the Wahoo TICKR-FIT and Polar OH1 optical sensors as well as the Garmin HRM-DUAL chest strap. Here’s the data set:

image_thumb[25]

Sigh.

Another boring and perfectly functional data set. They even (almost) get the build right. You can see a slight bit of lag compared to the chest strap on this one, and then you’ll also see that around the 6 minute marker the FR245 does very briefly lag for 10 seconds behind the others as I reduced pace. But otherwise, the rest of the data set is spot-on.

image_thumb[29]

Ultimately, in looking at these and other data sets, the optical HR sensor seems to be a slight improvement on the Fenix 5 Plus series (which was the previous generation HR sensor prior to the current V3). I think there’s probably something to be said for Garmin’s approach here of just ever so slightly incrementally improving their optical HR sensor, rather than massive wholesale changes for each new product. In the case of optical HR sensor accuracy, it’s mostly a game of fixing 1% issues. Fixing an algorithm error that may cause an issue for 1% of the population, but if you do that 10 or 20 times, you start to make significant ground. Essentially the whole concept of marginal gains. Roughly.

Product Comparison Tool:

I’ve added the Forerunner 245 into the product comparison tool, which allows you to compare it against any watches I’ve reviewed to date.  For the purposes of the below table, I’ve compared it against the existing Polar Vantage M, Apple Watch Series 3, as well as the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active.  But you can easily mix and match against any other products within the database here, by creating your own product comparison tables.  Note that in some cases nuanced features (like the specifics of how different watches track training load or recovery), doesn’t really fit well into product comparison tools designed to host hundreds of watches:

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 22nd, 2019 @ 6:09 pmNew Window
Price$299/$349$249$279/$379 (cellular)$279$199
Product Announcement DateApr 30th, 2019Oct 21st, 2015Sept 12th, 2017Sept 13th, 2018Feb 20th, 2019
Actual Availability/Shipping DateApr 30th, 2019November 2015Sept 22nd, 2017November 2018Mar 9th, 2019
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB, Bluetooth Smart, WiFi (Only Music has WiFi)USB, Bluetooth SmartBluetooth SmartUSB, BLUETOOTH SMARTBluetooth Smart
Waterproofing50 Meters50 Meters50mYes - 30m50 meters
Battery Life (GPS)Up to 24hrs regular GPS, 24hrs+ for UltraTracUp to 16 hours5hrs GPS on time (24-48hrs standby)Up to 30 hoursUndeclared (claims 45hrs non-GPS)
Recording Interval1-second, Smart, UltraTrac1-second & SmartVaries1s1-second for GPS, 1-minute for HR
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYesYesYes (but seems questionable)YesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatNot generallyGreatYes
AlertsVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVibration/Audio/VisualVibrate/VisualVibrate/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGoodGoodGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesYesYesNoYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesYesYesYesYEs
MusicGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Can control phone musicYesYesYesNoYes
Has music storage and playbackYes (Music version)NoYesNoYes
Streaming ServicesSpotify, Deezer, PandoraApple Music, Spotify (but not offline yet)NoSpotify
PaymentsGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Contactless-NFC PaymentsNoYesNoYes (but only with Samsung phone)
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYesYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesYesFeb 2019Yes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYesWith 3rd party appsNoNo
Group trackingNoNoNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)Yes (via phone)NoYesNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoYes (with cellular version)NoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableWITH SOME CONNECT IQ APPS (BUT CANNOT RECORD DATA)WITH SOME CONNECT IQ APPS (BUT CANNOT RECORD DATA)NoYesNo
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsN/AN/AN/AYesN/A
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFN/AN/AN/ANoN/A
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesNoYesNo
Strava segments live on deviceNoNoNoFuture Update (Date TBD)No
Crash detectionYesNoNoNo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Designed for runningYesYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YES (Also has INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)YES (Also has INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)With 3rd party appsYesWith 3rd party apps
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)Yes (with accessory)NoNoNoNo
Running PowerNoYes with 3rd party devices (not built-in like Vantage V)No
VO2Max EstimationYesYesYesYesNo
Race PredictorYesYesNoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorYesYesNoNoNo
Run/Walk ModeYesYesWith 3rd party appsNoWith 3rd party apps
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Designed for swimmingYesNo (protected though just fine)YesYesYes
Openwater swimming modeNoN/AYEsYesYes
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesN/AYesYesYes
Record HR underwaterNoN/AYesYesYes
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AN/ABasic stroke type onlyYesNo
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesN/ABasic stroke type onlyYesYes
Indoor Drill ModeYesN/ANoNoNo
Indoor auto-pause featureNoN/AYesYesNo
Change pool sizeYesN/AYesYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool LengthsN/A1y/m to 1,500y/m+20M/Y to 250 m/y
Ability to customize data fieldsYesN/AVery limitedYes
Can change yards to metersYesN/AYesYesYes
Captures per length data - indoorsYesN/AYesYesYes
Indoor AlertsN/AYes (goals)N/ANo
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Designed for triathlonNoNoNot reallyYesNo
Multisport modeNoNoYesYesSorta (can combine sports manually)
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesWith 3rd party appsYesNo
On-unit interval FeatureYesYesWith 3rd party appsNoNo
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYesWith 3rd party appsNoNo
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesNoNoNo (but can give out of zone alerts)Pace guidance only
Virtual Racer FeatureYesNoNoNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYesNoNoNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNoNoNo
GeocachingNoNoNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)YEsYEsYesNoYes
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesNoWith 3rd party appsNoNo
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoWith 3rd party appsNoNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoWith 3rd party appsNoNo
Back to startYesYesWith 3rd party appsFeb 2019No
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoWith 3rd party appsNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitYesNoWith 3rd party appsNo3rd party apps
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Altimeter TypeGPSGPSBarometricGPSBarometric
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYEsYEsYesYesYes
Pulse Oximetry (aka Pulse Ox)YesNoNoNo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYes3rd Party Apps only
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesnoNoNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNono
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNonO
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NONONoNono
ANT+ Lighting ControlYesNONoNono
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationYesNONoNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NONONoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlYES FOR GARMIN VIRBYES FOR GARMIN VIRBNoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNONONoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)YesYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoNoNoNonO
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNONONoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableYesNOYesYes3rd party apps only
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableYesNONoYesNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableYesNONoYes3rd party apps only
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNONONoYesNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NONONoYesYes
Temp Recording (external sensor)YES (TEMPE)YES (TEMPE)NoNoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR tools-TBDNoN/ANo
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressNonePolar Flowsync - Windows/MacNo
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectNonePolar FlowNo
Phone AppiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS onlyiOS/AndroidiOS/Android (iOS is limited though)
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLinkN/ALinkN/A
Clever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)LinkLinkN/AN/AN/A
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 235Apple Watch Series 3Polar Vantage MSamsung Galaxy Active
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Remember, you can mix and match and create your own product comparison tables here, for watches not seen above.

Summary:

Garmin-FR245-TrainingLoad-Summary

I suspect the Forerunner 245 (and Forerunner 245 Music) will make a lot of folks pretty happy, and for good reason: It basically reduces the price of a higher end Garmin running watch by $100. As has been the strategy for each successive Garmin fitness/outdoors release, they simply add new features at the higher end, and then roll the previously higher end features into the next mid-range watch. Rinse…repeat.

Of course, there are some minor tradeoffs to be made anytime you make those kind of price/feature shifts. If you want a barometric altimeter – then sticking with the Forerunner 645/645 Music probably makes more sense. And inversely, if you don’t need some of the advanced metrics, then going with the still 5-button friendly Forerunner 45 is definitely worth a look.  And on that very topic – I do find it strange that Garmin didn’t include the barometric altimeter in a $300 watch. After all, they have sub-$200 basic activity trackers that have the functionality, as with other sub-$300 watches as well. Of course – the reason is clear: Trying to get you to buy something higher end, but it just feels weird in this specific case – as if the other products can’t stand on their own aside from that feature.

In any event, altimeter annoyances aside – the FR245 is a solid watch and has been working well for me. The music bits are exactly what folks have been asking for that didn’t want the nearly button-less Vivoactive 3 Music, and I suspect some of the additional surprise features (like 4 data fields per page or course support) will just be icing on the cake.

With that – thanks for reading!

Found this review useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:

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

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP Program, you will earn 10% points on this item and 10% off (instantly) on thousands of other fitness products and accessories.  Points can be used on your very next purchase at Clever Training for anything site-wide.  You can read more about the details here.  By joining, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers.  And, since this item is more than $49, you get free 3-day (or less) US shipping as well.

Garmin Forerunner 245/245 Music
Garmin Forerunner 245/245 Music (EU/UK readers – don’t forget to use Europe coupon code DCR10BTF to save 10%)
Garmin Speed/Cadence Sensors (new ANT+/Bluetooth Smart ones – review here)
Garmin HRM-DUAL (new ANT+/Bluetooth HR strap – review here)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the Forerunner 245 or accessories (though, no discount). Or, anything else you pick up on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.

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271 Comments

  1. Dulle

    Finally, thumbs up!

  2. Bernard Fischer

    Thanks for the review. Minor nitpick:
    “Garmin noted that they’ve spent the majority of their time on GPS+GLONASS, and not yet focused very much accuracy efforts in GPS+GLONASS.”

    Should be “…accuracy efforts in GPS+GALILEO”?

  3. Torbjørn

    This watch it definitely going to take a fare share of the market! Although, the price on FR645 Music has already droppet so much that it has to been seem which of those two models that will apply to most buyers.

  4. MattB

    “assume you know not to wait” should be “know to wait”. Also there’s a missing ‘ago’ in your first line, though that one’s a bit less critical! The pressures of 7 simultaneous reviews… 😳😝 no idea how you do it!

    Back to reading!

  5. Dan Majgaard

    Awesome! – What’s battery life with music?

  6. Andrea Tavilla

    I really struggled trying to view comparison images in heart rates comparison….to small and undetailed to check product names.

  7. I suspect this is going to be a hot selling device for Garmin if you don’t need Garmin Pay or that bothered about an altimeter

  8. Pavel

    Great review, Thanks a lot for your great work!

    Do you think FR645 or 935 will receive UI updates from 245/945? From DesFit video there is revamped calendar and weather widget and more little stuff like that.

  9. KT

    If I can currently get the 645M for $70 cheaper then the 245M, is there any reason at all to consider the 245M?

    From what I can tell, the only benefit to the 245M is the PulseOX, slightly revamped OHR, and slightly longer battery life.

    However, the 645M has a few additional features and Garmin pay/Barometer.

  10. Rowotter

    If I have an Edge 520 and no HR strap, will the edge pull HR data from this in GC? Alternatively, this broadcast HR data to an Edge?

    Does the training load take into account cycling data that has been uploaded to GC?

    Thanks!

  11. Kevin

    Hi Ray, thanks for your (as usual) detailed review. Just one question – is the HR Strap I got with my FR 230 bundle a few years back a HR-Run strap? I.e. will it provide the advance metrics or do I need a new strap?

    • Brian

      If it’s the one with the black pod, that’s the “premium soft strap” HRM and does not do running dynamics. The one with the red edge on the pod is the HRM-RUN.

      (I have both)

    • David Lusty

      Nope. In the olden days there was a black one with a picture of a runner on it which has identical functionality to the red one the Fenix 3 bundle included this I think. The 230 may have included this although I seem to recall the 630 being needed for run dynamics.

    • Kevin

      Thanks Brian and Dave. Yeah I suspect you are right here. I have the premium strap that came with230 but don’t think that has the white runner on it (purely black pod) thus suspect it wont work.

  12. The FR235 was my first proper sports watch. It had a lot of quirks but was a great affordable choice. This looks like a massive upgrade, and will probably be the watch I recommend the most to friends.

    Great review as always.

  13. Jeremy

    Are some of the minor updates to existing features (like the privacy mode, VO2Max accounting for heat/humidity or the detailed post-workout training benefit, for example) coming to the FR645 in an update?

    • Jonathan Ford

      I am also quite interested to hear the answer to this question.

    • Katy

      This was my question too! And does their metric ever take into consideration elevation gain? It seems like it doesn’t but I was curious about it after finishing a very hilly race at what I thought was a pretty good pace, my score got dinged for it.

    • jp7

      I would also would be interested in the response to this question if Garmin – Blake (or anyone else) is able to answer it. Seems these features should be available in the 645 (particularly the heat/humidity factor for VO2 max) if they are available in the 245.

    • Sherry

      Great question. I was also wondering. Hopefully someone knows the answer.

    • Zach

      I’m also very curious about this. I’m noticing Ray has been uncharacteristically silent to these inquiries, and I’m hoping that means he knows something that he can’t divulge yet. I’m feeling a little sad about my updgrade to the 645 back in November. I love it, but the 245 now includes all of the features that pushed my upgrade.

  14. Buddy

    Question: Can you charge the 245 during a run and still record the activity?

    • Mark

      Maybe?

      The big problem is that it uses the new standard cord which comes out perpendicular to the watch face. So even if it can work while charging, you can’t wear it as a watch without a hole through your arm

    • CJ

      Mark has a valid point about the charging cable interfering, but there’s another option: wear a chest-strap HR sensor and put the watch in your pocket while charging.

      Aftermarket, 6-inch charge cables and tiny power-banks are available, making this easily doable.

  15. Davis

    Garmin’s lineup update cycle is maddening. Like you say you can upgrade to the 645 to get barometric altimeter, but the 645 doesn’t have PulseOx and has half as many FirstBeat metrics (which analytics are all the rage), plus it doesn’t have the latest heart rate sensor or new GPS unit. That’s what drives me crazy with so many of their updates. They don’t have a clear product hierarchy. Yes the 945 is by far the best, but after that what’s next? Oh and don’t forget they still have a 735…. I’m glad I’m not in finance/supply chain and have to try and forecast sells by product.
    As a consumer this holds me back from pulling the trigger. I have an old FR35, and want to upgrade. I don’t want the 945, but I can’t decide between the 645 or the 235… not because I can’t pick how much I want to spend, but because there isn’t a clear choice.

    • Dan G

      The 645 has the same First Beat metrics.

      The 600 series was always the odd one out of Garmin’s range; I only bought mine for Courses support, which is invaluable for me (I’m a run leader and enjoy trail running, two cases where’s it’s great to be able to follow a course!).

      Now the 245 is simply a 645 minus an barometer and Garmin Pay I really can’t see the point of the 600 series. I would expect Garmin not to replace the 645.

    • Davis

      It doesn’t have the same metrics according to FirstBeat (645 has 11, 245 has 14) – missing: Body Resources, Respiration Rate, and Race Time Predictor. Also the 645 doesn’t have the Sony GPS chipset that has better battery life.

    • snowey1210

      The lineup is extremely confusing. The hierarchy of watches is all over the place… Here’s my attempt at trying to figure out where the watches fall:

      -Garmin 45 – Base Model, those who just need a GPS watch with some activity tracking features.
      -Garmin Instinct – Outdoorsy types, Hikers, Spartan racers. Like to track their activity but not too worried about specifics (No VO2 max, Connect IQ etc). Generally, too far away from shops for Garmin Pay to be of any use. Music is considered a waste of battery.
      -Garmin Vivoactive 3/3 Music – Gym Goers, Crossfitters, Swimmers. Fitness Lifestyle enthusiasts. Need Garmin Pay to buy after workout sports drink. Like to listen to music while they workout.
      -Garmin 245/Music – Runners, Track Athletes. Like music to keep them motivated while doing intervals. Need running dynamic information to improve running efficiency. Barometer not required as predominantly running city courses. No Garmin Pay?
      -Garmin 645 – Also Runners? Less battery life than 245, less Firstbeat metrics, but has Garmin Pay and a Barometer. Definitely, the odd one out now, can’t really see it’s value in the overall lineup…
      -Garmin 945 – Triathletes, Marathoners, well-to-do data geeks.
      -Garmin Fenix 5 plus series – Ultra runners/triathletes.
      -Garmin Marq – Watch enthusiasts.

      For me personally, I’d consider myself a bit of a data geek, but I fall more into Runner demographic. That leaves me with the choice of the 245 that lacks Garmin Pay, or the 645 that lacks all the Firstbeat metrics…

      Ideally, I think Garmin should include the lifestyle firstbeat metrics (stress, body battery, etc.) and lifestyle features (Garmin Pay, Music) as more or less standard across their entire range. They should then scale up the more specific performance orientated metrics based on the watch level/type. They also need to amalgamate the “Running” type watch. The 245 and 645 are more or less the same watch.

    • Michael

      But does the 245 just have the first beat licenses, or does it truly support all 14?

      On the Garmin page, and here on DC rainmaker, the respiration and hrv aren’t listed….but on the firstbeat site they are.

      What gives? I’d have bought by now if I could just answer those questions.

    • Davis

      And today they discounted the Fenix 5+ because it has less features than the 945… So basically between now and the next Fenix the 945 is the second best watch (Marq number one). They should just flatten their product line and upgrade them annually (like ohh you know Apple).

    • Davis

      Now I’m even more confused about the product line. Another user pointed out that the Vivoactive 3 has a barometer and garmin pay (plus golf, etc) but lacks a few items… but it’s 100 less than the FR245.

    • Chuck

      I just chatted with Garmin and they said only the MARQ and 945 have Respiration support at this time. They were unsure if the 245 would ever get it despite being listed on the Firstbeat page.

    • Mike

      Also very interested in this question. It is NOT CLEAR whether the 245 will display all 14 features noted specifically in the Firstbeat website for the 245. Can Garmin clear this up — why are 3 of the 14 not listed?

    • Chuck

      I have contacted Firstbeat to see what they say about the three listed features which do not show on the Garmin details. Garmin was absolutely no help in this regard.

    • Chuck

      I spoke with Firstbeat. They stated the Respiration was in error and have updated the page. So the FR245 has 13 features rather than 14.

    • James Valadez

      It’s all personal preference, but I had a VA3 for a little while and found the lack of buttons to be extremely annoying. Similarly, the battery life was somewhat meh. While I don’t like navigating using the screen, it might be less annoying for you.

    • Titus

      Did you find an answer to your questions? I have the same ones

  16. Wouter

    Hi, nice reviews as always. Question on the navigation usability: is it equally good as on the 935 (which I have now)? Does it have a magnetic compass and is the gps accuracy good enough accurately be able to follow a course (for example to choose a trail on a “crossroad” in the woods)?

    I aim mainly a runner, and interested in the music-part, navigation support and other usual running things. I not intend to spend the additional money for the 945 (breadcrumbs are good enough for me, and no triathlete features needed).

    • Tim Grose

      Being able to follow a course at all times is often a function of how well the course was created in the first place but in general should not be any problem and I very much doubt will be any different from the 935.

  17. George

    Hello DC thank you very much for the reviews. I have an old forerunner 230 and I am thinking of updating to a new garmin watch. One of the drawbacks that I have with the fr230 is that I cannot have more than 2 data screens. Can you please let us know how many data screens we can have with the 245 and 945 forerunners? Can I have for example 4 data screens with 4 data field each? Also, how many IQ data fields can we use? Is it still 2 or we can even have more? Thank you very much for your ti. E

    • George,

      The Connect IQ datafield portion is unchanged, but you will be able to customize up to 10 data pages in total.

    • Jonas

      So 10 in total in the same app/profile (on different pages?) or still 2 at a time but 10 in various app/profiles?

      Because 10 in the same app would be useful.

    • Tim Grose

      Not counted how many you can add but in the Run profile you get the 2 data screen pages as standard but, unlike the 230, can add more and with up to 4 fields per page. You can also have map, HR gauge, virtual partner, music controls and clock pages.

  18. Toni

    Vivoactive 3 Music for 190€ or 245Music por 300€ ?¿

    • Pale

      245 Music is actually 350€, and the vivoactive 3music has barometric altimeter so it tells you also climbed floors… plus Garmin Pay…
      Where is the upgrade? In the first beat metrics?

    • James Valadez

      It’s all personal preference, but I had a VA3 for a little while and found the lack of buttons to be extremely annoying. Similarly, the battery life was somewhat meh. While I don’t like navigating using the screen, it might be less annoying for you.

  19. Yonah

    Ray, great review, a couple of quick questions:
    – You list that the 245 can do live tracking via web – does this require a phone to be connected?
    – Can the Milestone/Zwift footpod be connected to this for cadence?

    • Tim Grose

      LiveTrack always needs a phone to transmit your current position.
      No need to pair any foot pod for cadence as the watch itself does it for you.

  20. somelightrelieef

    645 doesn’t have pulse oxomitery does it? Should this not be mentioned in the differences

  21. Hunter Marshall

    Hey! So excited for these. Evaluating the Screen Color/Quality/Clarity – would say it’s the same as previous releases (using 645 now) or somewhat better? Dying for a true fitness watch to create a fitbit/apple like screen beauty

  22. Jozko

    Great review, thanks! But I’m quite disappointed with Garmin’s approach. I have bought FR645 few months ago and I really don’t understand why they don’t update software in their higher model to match the functionality offered by the less expensive FR245 (better race predictor, heat consideration into VO2Max, new UI…). I don’t care about PulseOx sensor, but I think they should have updated FR645 with new software features…

    • Pavel Kajaba

      They might do it (update UI), but I kinda doubt that they will touch anything FirstBeat since they are licensing it.

      I have FR645 as well and it’s great watch alone and it will be even without updated UI, but if Garmin gave it to us, it would be really nice of them.

    • John Kissane

      I’ve also got a 645 (non-music) which I’m reasonably happy with (have only one problem with sawtooth elevation graphs while running that I’ve a case open with Garmin Support for). Think I’d probably go for the 245 over it now all things being equal though as Garmin Pay isn’t relevant to me & the barometer is disappointing to say the least.

  23. Steve

    In your testing did the ~1 week of Smartwatch battery life hold up?

  24. Amol Gaikwad

    Will the 235 M support interval tracking? Meaning can I preprogram an interval workout for distance ? Like 400 mtrs, 200 mtrs and 100 mtrs distance? my current watch doesnt have this functionality and I am not sure if Garmin 235/245 support this type of workout?

    • Amol,

      You will be able to create interval workouts right on the device or in Garmin Connect and then sync these over. You can set the intervals as time-based or distance-based.

  25. Cheleon

    Here’s a question, do these Firstbeat metrics warrant spending extra money on a device or are they for the most part, a gimmick? I am considering a 645 for this reason over my Apple watch (both with similar ‘ok’-sh GPS accuracy imo). The other option for me is to forget about that and spend the money on Stryd.

    • marklemcd

      “do these Firstbeat metrics warrant spending extra money on a device or are they for the most part, a gimmick?”

      The latter, mostly. In the perfect scenario they can work, and by perfect I mean you fall within the 95% confidence interval they use around a mean and you have no anomalies at all in your training. Even then I’m highly skeptical there is much value. Do you need a device to tell you when you’re tired? The way they implement it is generally reluctant to tell you that you’re doing poorly, try to get recovery adviser to tell you your recovery is poor. These things aren’t precise enough to really tell you anything outside of the general “you had a hard workout today, take it easy tomorrow” type of advice.

    • Dan G

      I quite like them (on my 645), but they have no value.

      They work insofar that you get a long recovery period recommendation after a hard work out, and the aerobic and anaerobic TE scores match what you’d expect from a given work out. But they don’t tell you anything you don’t already know (I like the reassurance of seeing a high TE after a hard session).

      They certainly won’t make you go faster. They’re not actionable.

    • Cheleon

      Thanks guys, I find it hard to take rest days so am looking for something I can have trust in to tell me to take it easy every now and then lol!
      But I guess it’s just plain the old common sense of listening to your body.

  26. Eugene

    Great as always. I’m coming from a 935, which I love, and I’ve been waiting anxiously for the 945. But having read this review, not sure why I wouldn’t go with the 245 Music. I don’t do tri’s, so I’m running for the most part. But I do play golf, and will need a watch that does that (the 935 does, not sure about the 245). I do like the battery life on the 935, so it’s not clear if the battery on the 245 is close to the 945 (I’m assuming no). So a few qs for DC.
    1. Sizewise, how does the 245 compare to the 945
    2. Battery life…are the major differences between the 245 and 945?
    3. Golf…on both?

    Thanks!

    • Tim Grose

      Only Golf on a 945 not a 245. 245 smaller than a 935/945. Unless you are desparate for music, 245 is essentially a downgrade from a 935 IMHO especially as you won’t find the 245 much use on the golf course.

  27. Wayne Lyle

    Thanks very much for your excellent review as always, well done and keep up the brilliant work.
    Thank you again for your discount code for buying from clever training, I have just pre ordered the FR245 music

  28. Mark

    RE: Run Power meters.

    It doesn’t support Garmin’s onboard without the barometric altimeter, but it can connect to Stryd, etc.? Is power a valid field?
    More an API question: can a Training Peaks workout that uses power be fed and work with the watch?

  29. Christoph

    Can it vibrate for notifying me of alarms ? Like lap alarms but also smart notifications?

  30. D

    Very tempted to switch from my va3.
    So what happens when you tackle hilly terrain with the 245? Uses terrain/gps data?

    • Tom Albrecht

      It uses maps with terrain data. A lot of times I look at the barometric data I get from my V3, and it’s not correct. So I have it corrected via online anyway.

  31. Thijs Rieken

    Where’s the rolling pin? The scale?!? AM I EVEN ON DCRAINMAKER?? 😂

    • I know…rolling pin needs to get back in the game. It’s handles fell off* in the move and needs some love.

      (*It’s technically two Ikea rolling pins I glued together, but when removing the metal pole that holes the handles together, I had to glue the handles on, and my glueing job sucks.)

  32. Mike

    I’m considered swapping the VA3M for this. Two questions:

    1. Does the 245 support the Stryd pod for pace whilst still using GPS for position?
    2. Can the 245 have different number of data fields on each screen? The VA3 has a global setting for all screens, whereas the 645 allowed you to choose Screen #1 to have 1 field, Screen #2 to have 4 fields, etc. This is important if you want to use a full-screen CIQ field on one screen in combination with a “standard” multi-field setup on another screen.

    • George

      I am also very interested in both of these questions as well.

    • I know it was possible to have different numbers of data fields on each screen with the Forerunner 230 and 235, so I assume the capability is still there on the new 245.

    • George

      I just received my 245 and I can guarantee that you can take distance and speed from stryd always. Keep in mind that many IQ apps are not yet available. For example the run power is not available yet for the 245. The stryd apps are available.

    • Mike

      Thanks George!

  33. Mick O

    I run with my phone using Nike+. and I listen to music. I had picked up a Vivoactive3 Music because the idea of not having to wear some weird pouch or band to carry my phone and still have music was a really big attraction for me. I was disappointed to discover that I really had come to value the voice feedback of Nike+ on my runs telling me time/distance at regular intervals — and the VA3Music did not have anything like that. I ended up returning it. I have heard that the 645Music does have voice feedback, but I can’t tell if this new 245Music does or does not. Do you know anything about voice feedback during runs on the 245Music?

    • The 245 Music does have the voice feedback feature that the VA3 lacked. From Ray’s article:

      “…the Vivoactive 3 Music lacks audio alerts for things like pace and laps, which the FR645/Fenix 5 Plus/Forerunner 945/Forerunner 245 Music have.”

    • Mick O

      Thank you .. I did a search for “voice” but didn’t think to do “audio” Your help is appreciated.

    • Ferry

      Can somebody elaborate on this audio / voice feedback. I’ve searched all over to get specifications and experience on this feature. I primarily want to use it for interval training in combination with train as one and I wonder if it as good or better that the iPhone app iSmoothrun I currently use.

  34. iain

    Hi Ray,

    Great review, thanks!

    Why is there only 2 options for location tracking: GPS+Glonass *OR* GPS+Galileo. Is there a reason that all 3 can’t be used at the same time to give the best possible accuracy/redundancy?

    Thanks again!

    • Dan G

      GLONASS isn’t as accurate as GPS, while Galileo is. People would probably complain if GLONASS support wasn’t there, but its use is best avoided.

  35. fc

    Any info about the stock quantity of 245 in clever training store?

    • What you see should be live. They had stock today to ship today. The shipping window to go out today passed 14 minutes ago, but ya never know, sometimes if you put it in quick enough, it’ll still go out.

      Looks like they have the black variants of both in stock.

  36. Kevin Conover

    Ray, according to the Garmin specs page Virtual Partner is a “Yes”.

  37. Pete L

    Thanks for the great review RY! How concerned should we be about the optical HR issues you experienced in the interval valleys? Do you expect this issue to be addressed in firmware updates?

    Thanks again for the work you do.

    • It’s hard to say whether it’s fixable or not. In some cases, they can fix it – and in others, not so much. There’s no good answer, since I see this stuff on most watches at some point or another.

  38. Joel Edwall

    My 2 main activities (that I track) are hiking and running. I’ve had the 235 for 2.5 years and it’s been good, but it’s driven me nuts that it doesn’t have a native “hike” activity. Does the 245? And considering that the Fenix 5 is also 350 right now, which would you recommend? Fenix 5 or the 245 music? Thanks so much, I’m already subscribed and your blog is excellent.

    • Tim Grose

      Ray gives the complete list above and looks the same as what I can see. No Hike am afraid but does have Walk and Walk Indoor and Trail Run.

  39. holbythebear

    The font on the screen appears to be more “bold” and pops better than the 645. Looks to be easier to read. Can’t tell if this is a result of the lighting or camera?

  40. Allan Dodds

    “Garmin is likely purposefully skipping the barometric altimeter here”

    For me, this is a very good thing, I am on my 4th 935, and it has always been the altimeter that has gone awry. Runs would start at 20,000m elevation and plummet. So I think (IMHO) that this is something Garmin have struggled to get right, and omitting this will limit RMA’d 245s.

  41. pingi

    Hi,
    thanks for the review.

    How is the SW on the 245? Still beta quality?
    Why I am asking: I am still using the Fenix 3, unfortunately regretting such high investment as the watch even after so many updates cannot retain black background and white foreground without constantly switching by itself (not to mention battery life and altitude measurements) and I am quite a bit worried about investing into another Garmin.

    Cheers,
    p

  42. runner-33

    Very nice review. Thanks Ray!

    I think one very notable hardware upgrade from the FR235 is missing in the bulleted list: The watch glass is now Gorilla Glass 3 instead of chemically strengthened glass (which is just a nice wording for “it will scratch sooner than later”).

    Do you feel that Body Battery is ready for prime time now? In your initial vivosmart 4 assessment you didn’t sound very convinced.

  43. j.Marshall

    “…as well as the ability to now put four metrics on a single page (previously you were limited to three metrics).”

    FYI The 230/235 both allowed you to use 4 metrics on a page.

  44. Ray

    Does the 245 measure lactate threshold like the 645?

  45. Andrew

    I realise this isn’t a triathlon watch but you didn’t mention HR accuracy when cycling or pool swimming accuracy?

  46. James Valadez

    Ray, in your opinion, if you could get the FR245 or the FR645 at the same price, which would you recommend? Or anyone for that matter. I’m looking to upgrade relatively soon and I want to get the most bang for the buck. I don’t bike, but I do lift and might start doing laps in my gym’s pool a couple times a month to cross train.

  47. Ryan

    Hey Ray, slightly different question. I’ve got a couple of the QuickFit 22 bands, it looks like this has the 20mm Quick Release bands. I’m guessing that I wouldn’t be able to use the existing bands with this if I was to pick it up?

  48. Matthew

    Does it have 24/7 heart tracking?

  49. RFisher

    The CleverTraining link for UK/EU customers only has the watch option, not the watch+music option – is this not available yet? The US link has both options.

    • Asdf

      It does, if you select White, Black or Aqua. It’ll display “Features – Music” below.

    • RFisher

      Ah thanks, I see it now. Looks like if you want the music option, you’re limited to white, black or aqua, whereas for non-music you can only have berry or slate (at the moment at least).

    • Mark

      It also looks like if you want a white body, it’s music only. Black body are available with or without music, but there is a little accent related to the swappable band.
      The black music has a little red accent at the start-stop button
      The aqua music has an aqua accent
      Grey non-music has a grey accent
      Berry non-music has a berry accent
      But the White has a black bezel with a white accent on a white body.

    • Asdf

      Yep, exactly. I don’t think this is a limitation “at the moment”, I think these are just the variations we can get and I don’t think that Garmin usually adds more variations.
      Happy choosing! 🙂

  50. James Dennet

    Unfortunately http://www.clevertraining.co.uk does not have any in stock yet, and they said they have no information as to whether when exactly they will get some stock (apart from the vague “early May”).
    Quite disappointing, considering a few other UK shops list them as “In stock”!

    • RFisher

      I actually ordered from the UK store this morning and have already had an email notification that it is out for delivery, so I assume they just haven’t updated their website yet.

    • Tiago Oliveira

      Hello did you get already?

    • Matyt

      May I ask where?
      I’m trying to find one ASAP (very conveniently my FR 210 decided to die yesterday), and can’t find anyone that has it available

    • George

      I bought one from Wiggle and I received it the next day. I paid extra for shipping.

    • Charlie

      I ordered mine from clevertraining.co.uk on 30th of April and no sign of a delivery as yet at all…

    • RFisher

      It was due to be delivered (i.e. left the local depot) on Monday, I haven’t got it yet but that’s more the fault of DPD/me not being at home at the right time. I ordered it last Friday morning. Also, I’m in Belgium, so I thought that was pretty fast.

  51. Remco

    Is it possible to create a sportprofile / activity (kitesurfing, winterpsorts) on the 245?
    To me the 245 looks like a good replacement for mine Suunto ambit 3 sport.

    • Pavel

      You can create activity but it won’t show up in Garmin Connect under correct label (lets say you create kitesurfing from run profile, so it shows up as run in Garmin Connect), but there might be specific apps for kitesurfing in Garmin Store.

  52. Jeroen Verhaegen

    What to do? Buy now a garmin forerunner 935 (400 euro) or 645 music (390 euro) or wait for the forerunner 245 music (350 euro)?

  53. Andrew

    How does it take temperature into account for VO2 calculation if there is no thermometer? Also will Strava live segments work on these?

  54. Michael

    I want to buy but I need a clarification first.

    Could you confirm or deny the access to the firstbeat metrics that are listed on the firstbeat page for the 245, but specifically not on Garmin or your tool?

    Most notably lactate threshold, respiration, hrv. I’m sure there are others I’m missing.

  55. Erik Pieh

    How much does it weigh?
    Can you add weight as a data field in your comparison tool?

    • Ramdi

      Speaking about weight, the size is missing from all reviews too, it was a bit annoying to have to google that for each watch separately. It’s also not included in the comparison table I think.

      Would be great to have that added to future reviews! 🙂
      (Or in case I am blind and it’s already there… make it more prominent.)

  56. Amit

    Do you know if I can use it with HRM-Swim strap?
    All I want is to combine the HR data while swimming, into activity chart.

    If not, do you think they’ll add this ability soon?

    Thanks!

    • Pavel

      No HR during swimming at all.

    • Rebecca

      Hi! I swim competitively. I bought the 245 music. I run halves in my off-season. I bought the HRM-swim strap bc garmin says it works. The watch can do intervals and count strokes and do sets. It will even allow for drilling/kick sets. I am going to use the strap this week, so I’ll post an update.
      Regards,
      RJ

  57. Patrick

    Thank you for another great review.
    Does the 245 non music version have music control?. I run with my phone and my Fenix 3 can control play, pause, fast forward etc. Thanks

  58. Great review, as always!

  59. Daniel

    Dose garmin give a temperature range for the 245 or 945, How cold can air temp be for the watch to still work?

  60. erin

    Your comparison tool says that the 245 will support Pandora. Is this a typo? It would be fantastic if Pandora and Garmin teamed up. I’ve struggled with the transition from Pandora to spotify.

  61. RichCNJ

    Decisions, decisions… The lug for the watch band on my Vivoactive HR broke. I was happy with it but I can’t see pouring $120 for Garmin to repair it. I’m more into cycling and general fitness than running and the Vivoactive 3 Music price has come down so that looked like the best option until I read this review. Having a newer model with the newest sensors is appealing even if I give up the barometric altimeter. It would have been nice if a Vivoactive 4 Music had been announced but I couldn’t find any rumors on that except for later this year or early next.

    One question I do have is how the RTL510 radar integration works, but I can’t find any details. I have an Edge 520 and love the radar but the audible alert isn’t loud enough,especially if I’m listening to a podcast in one ear. Does the watch provide any better vibration or sound alerts?

  62. Brad

    I know you indicated that the purpose of the pulse ox sensor is really to indicate your pulse ox for high altitude exercises, say like mountain climbing. But is there any use for it to measure your life pulse ox when exercising? Eg, an instantaneous measure of physiological stress? I think that would be really interesting.

  63. Stuart Strang

    As always, great review.
    One thing:
    In your write up you say there is the virtual partner feature, but in your comparison tool you say there isn’t?

    “You’ve also got a breadcrumb map, virtual partner, and music control pages you can add/remove as well.”

  64. Richard Siwaletti

    Nice review! Was expecting and hoping that the 245 would have Strava Live segments. Too bad it hasn’t.

  65. Andy H

    Is this a worthy update from the 735? I currently have this but don’t use the multi sport (which I think is the main difference), mainly got it as I found it at the same price as the 235…and the battery life was a touch better.

  66. marklemcd

    Ray, it’s just wrong to say the vO2 max doesn’t change much on the device. Maybe not for you, but you fall perfectly into the first beat confidence interval. For those of us who don’t, it is unusable and changes constantly. In the last 8 weeks mine has changed 12 times ranging from 57 to 65. Seriously.

    • Jens

      Hi,
      Sorry if this is too off topic, but does anyone know if 1. The VO2max calculations differ a lot between models? and 2. If I use “correct” HR measurement (i.e OH1 or the likes, or chest strap) over time, will my VO2max then be reliable in the watch? (I say “correct” since I’ve got less correct HR from OHR in watches, predominantly cadence lock in various models). Currently my VO2max is 58 in my Garmin watches. Has been fairly steady, goes down to 56 or 57 at times.

    • Pavel

      I don’t really know answer for your question, but my common sense is telling me that accuracy is probably better but nothing game changing.

      You know, it will always be a model and it means that results are based on data your feeding into it. So if you have inaccurate HR data temperature won’t magically fix it. Keep in mind that temperature is acquired from local weather stations, which brings minor error (what if you are living far from station?)

  67. Deathwish

    Does anyone know if the 245 can take barometer data from Stryd and overwrite the elevation in the .fit file during the run?

  68. wacomme

    I’ve never owned a sports watch before. As a cyclist, I rely of my bike computer (Wahoo Bolt) for Training data. However, I’ve taken up skate skiing as my new winter sport and would like to track that activity. But winter is another half year away! True, but I just had spine surgery and I cannot bike for three more months. I can only walk, hike, and swim – thinking about roller skiing too.

    Anyway, would the 245 work for me? My concern is the lack of a barometric altimeter. I live in Colorado with lots of hills. And skiing involves hills too. How important is a barometric altimeter for accurate training metrics? As a cyclist, I rely on my power meter and HRM for data collection. I may need to consider foot pods with the watch (though don’t know if they work for cross country skiing). I also climb the Incline in Manitou Springs, an old funicular route up the side of the Pikes Peak. Would the 245 measure these workouts accurately, or do I need the 645 or 945?

    Michael

    • rscnj

      Have you looked at the Vivoactive 3/3 Music? It has the barometric altimeter and the price just dropped. I’m trying to decide if I want to get that, the 245, or wait for a Vivoactive 4 (although no timeframe on that model).

    • wacomme

      Thanks for the Vivoactive 3 suggestion. The problem, I hear, is the touchscreen. Since I have no experience with watches, I don’t know if this is a real problem or not.

    • Jens

      Hi Michael,

      I am not 100% sure what activities the 245 supports. I think I saw XC skiing there. For me personally I think Garmin’s high end watches aren’t “all that” although I do own quite a few. I do some roller skiing, XC skiing, pool swim, ice skating, aqua fitness, running, trail running and hiking. No Garmin watch (to my knowledge) supports roller skiing,aqua fitness or ice skating as its own activity. Only Polar does to my knowledge so partly because of that I have Polar watches too. (Suunto supports roller ski and ice skating, but not aqua fitness) Since I do a lot of XC skiing I think it’s really bad that you cannot filter out the XC ski sessions you did. The only way (please correct me if I’m wrong) is to select “Other” and try to see what is what. Ice skating would fall in that category too unfortunately and Garmin doesn’t even have that as its own activity. Yes you CAN use running to record the skating and then change in Garmin Connect or in the app but it feels wrong.
      In any way I am first and foremost a Garmin user so I guess the 245 is good, or the VA3 then. I have to admit I can’t comment about the barometer myself. Haven’t really investigated if I got better results after switching from the 735XT to Fenix 5S or FR935. Hopefully someone knows better 🙂
      The FR935 might be on good deals very soon though since the 945 came out so maybe that’s a good option.

    • wacomme

      What about 3rd party XC ski apps? Would they record workouts as skiing?

    • Jens

      Problem is that Garmin doesn’t have skiing as filter, only as activity type ironically enough. Really strange IMO since for instance Swedes Stina Nilsson and Charlotte Kalla use Garmin watches.

    • wacomme

      So, would a Polar or Suunto watch be more useful for my needs/wants?

    • Steve

      Polar has 130 different sport profiles like kite surfing and skiing. All customizable.

    • wacomme

      Does that include the Polar 430?

    • Jens

      Good question 🙂 I think the Suunto Spartan Ultra (which I also use) is a very good buy, especially at discounts now that the Suunto 9 is out to replace it. It has barometer also. I think this is really up to taste. I’m kinda obsessed with testing watches (am working as software/hardware tester so it must be occupational hazard lol). For your needs I would recommend the Suunto Spartan Ultra or possibly Polar V800 (incl barometer) which is also at good deals now, unless you don’t like the design. In general I like Garmin’s app and web version so it’s hard to say. Haven’t used Suunto’s Movescount other than briefly checking stats after workouts and Polars Flow the same kinda.
      Haha I’m not sure. I’d say the Suunto. One thing Garmin does which not Suunto or Polar do is sync to Runkeeper if that makes it any easier. All sync to Strava though.

    • Jens

      M430 has everything, except any swimming capability. No barometer either. I don’t like 430 because it lacks a beep, but I use it for aqua fitness sessions since it has OHR which works fairly well in water. It’s not a bad watch! Also very cheap.

    • rscnj

      As I said in another post, I have a VAHR and the band lugs on the watch broke. Trying to decide if the 245 radar support is useful for alerts.

      I understand having physical buttons is useful if you’re running or wearing gloves but for everyday use, I liked the touch screen. DesFit has a Va3-645 comparison review and discusses the differences at 2:30 in the video (link to youtube.com). Good luck.

    • Andrew

      M430 supports open water swimming while the pool swimming profile records time but not distance. You can manually add the distance to polar flow after syncing.

    • Arne Bruening

      “Does that include the Polar 430?”

      Just checked it, I could configure Skiing and Ice Skating in Polar Flow for my M430. But I haven’t tried it out, because I don’t do either.

    • Jens

      Couldn’t configure how? The M430 has a VERY ANNOYING BUG btw. The default sports profiles cannot be edited in Flow (not for me anyway, with more than one watch model in Flow). If you remove the sports profile and add it again, then you can configure stuff. I have both skiing and skating in my M430 and since they only use GPS and time they work well for me 🙂 I have a feeling open water swimming only measures time and distance, nothing swim specific (re: Andrew’s post above) but I could be wrong. Have yet to test that. In any case, M430 is a good watch but since it has no beep I don’t like it for “distance sports” like running or skiing for instance.

  69. 1

    Is there a 245 planned with a metal(stainless steel bezel) similar to the 645?

  70. Janno Smit

    Hi Ray, do you perhaps know if any of these new Garmin watches can broadcast heartrate via Bluetooth? This will be such a cool feature.
    Thanks!

  71. Tim J

    I’ve been running with Forerunners since the 101 and I can’t remember ever being more disappointed. A 245 with an altimeter would have been a real winner, and the 645 is now down-rev. I consider a barometric altimeter to be a basic feature nowadays–much more so than a pulse-ox sensor, for example. I can get my music from my phone and even my heart rate from my OH1+, but there is no good substitute for an altimeter. Hey Garmin, not everyone runs where it is flat like Kansas City! Garmin now has no running-focused watch with a barometric altimeter and running dynamics on their most up-to-date hardware platform. Bizarre.

    • Stav

      Sure they do, the 945. It’s just a tiny bit more expensive than the 245.

      I would be curious: Is altimeter from GPS really not good enough? Outdoors you usually have plenty of satellites in range so GPS altimeter shouldn’t be that bad….?

    • Tim J

      Yes, just a tiny bit more–like twice as much! I think of the 945 as a multi-sport watch, as in Triathlon. I don’t need that. It seems like the 645 may become a dead end, but it probably has the closest match to my needs right now. It’s irritating that it costs more, but lacks some of the features of the 245. The 245 looks great but the lack of an altimeter is a problem for me. GPS is no where near as accurate vertically as horizontally. Altitudes jump around and are pretty much useless. Accurate elevations have to be done by post-processing after the activity, which isn’t always ideal. If anyone knows whether Galileo improves this, I’d sure like to know.

    • Stav

      The “tiny bit more” was sarcasm, sorry it didn’t come across. Should’ve put a smiley probably (I thought it did).

      So you’re saying that GPS-only altitude is pretty bad, even if you have several satellites in range. That’s too bad to hear! I thought there’s also a ground-based extension to GPS in the EU that helps with altitude but can’t remember the name of it nor find it in Google.

  72. Cody arnold

    Do you happen to know if the update to the Vo2 with humidity/heat is something that is a software update or hardware? I have the 645 but that is a crucial aspect of data I currently can’t account for and I live in the south. Thanks!

    • Pavel

      Garmin said that they won’t bring new features to Fenix 5+, so I doubt that they will update 645.

    • Stav

      That’s pretty bad for all Fenix 5 Plus users, actually. And I’m surprised by this. The Fenix 5 Plus is still fairly new as well (certainly not yet “last year’s old model” and it doesn’t have a successor yet in the same price range). That’s a big slap in the face of all Fenix 5 Plus buyers, and that watch is expensive! A big “booo” to Garmin!

  73. Nik Shersh

    The Garmin FR735 have option for footpod: “Use as Speed Source” (Never / Only When GPS is Off / Always).
    Does Garmin FR245 work with footpod in the same way? That is, GPS (distance source) and footpod (speed source) at the same time (when enabled option – Always).

  74. Stamatis

    Thanks for the review.

  75. Kris

    Hi, great review. I have two questions.

    1. Does this watch screen lights up automatically during dark when you turn up your hand like with Polar Vantage?

    2. Can I import all date for past five years from Polar flow to Garmin connect, including heart rate and training notes written in flow next to each activity?

    • Pavel

      You have to lift your hand or press a button and You can definitely import TCX files into Garmin Connect.

  76. Stav

    The official Garmin Press Release says “Pulse Ox is not available in all countries” (link to newsroom.garmin.com). But nowhere can you find *which* countries it’s currently supported in.

    Anyone got any ideas?

  77. Sergio

    Great review!!

    A couple of questions: How does the size compare to the FR235? What does it measure lug-to-lug?

  78. Colin C

    Can anyone comment on how well these newer Garmin devices work when you don’t have an internet connection from your phone. My old Garmin 810 bike unit refuses to sync if Garmin Connect app on the phone can’t see the internet. I’m guessing these are the same?

    Assuming it won’t sync, any idea how many days workouts this will store on the watch itself? Assuming a hiking scenario in some off grid location, could I get a month of 6-hour hiking days on there before I find the internet and sync things up?

    • No sync without internet.

      However, no problems storing that much on the unit itself – at least the FR245 Music or FR945 anyway, since they’ve got piles of storage. I don’t know exactly how many MB free the FR245 non-Music has though.

      But for 6-hr hikes, I presume you’d be using either smart recording or UltraTrac, which means you’d record far less data. I’d be surprised if you couldn’t fit it all on the FR245. Most of Garmin’s non-music devices have about 50MB of data on free space on them. Simple math for calculations is that 1-second recording with power/HR/etc data is 100KB, or 10 hours per 1MB.

      However, Smart Recording is approx 1/3rd to 1/2 of that. So let’s just say 20 hours of recording time per 1MB. That means 50MB gets you 1,000 hours, or, 166 days. And UltraTrac even more.

      Again, quick back of the napkin math with tons of room for error.

    • Colin C

      Awesome, thanks.

      Expecting, or at least preparing, to be off grid most of the time, so maximising power consumption is important too. Sounds like UltraTrac may be the way to go and hopefully get 3 days out of a single battery charge perhaps. Storage sounds like it’s ok.

      Any idea the battery capacity? Garmin just quote time in hours and I’m trying to work out how many charges I’d get from a USB power bank (or rather, what size power bank to take).
      Thanks!

  79. Joey

    I’d really like to listen to a podcast on the watch rather than music. Is that possible/easy to do? I use Pocket Casts on my phone and download those and wondered if I can easily copy those over at all. Also, it’d be nice if Google Play Music would be supported as well.

  80. Jan

    Thank you for the review! You mention the privacy feature:
    “Further, the FR245 does support Garmin’s semi-new privacy mode, which will hide the content of notifications until you either turn your wrist towards yourself, or press a confirmation button. This isn’t enabled by default.”
    I cannot find this on my watch, and there also is no mention of it online, only for the 945. Is this a mix-up or did garmin remove it from the official firmware?

    • Weird. I could have sworn I checked that on the FR245 (like, 95% sure), but sure enough, it’s not there now. The only reason I remember checking that is that I figured it wouldn’t be there. Odd. Sorry, fixed!

    • Stav

      It would be really weird if they made this particular “feature” dependent on the price tier. Seems like something that ought to be available on all watches…

  81. Warren

    Can it transmit (Broadcast) the HR to another ANT device (e.g. a Garmin 1030 while cycling)? Many thanks!

    • Mark

      Per the manual, Yes
      link to www8.garmin.com

      Broadcasting Heart Rate Data to Garmin® Devices
      You can broadcast your heart rate data from your Forerunner® device and view it on paired Garmin devices.

      NOTE: Broadcasting heart rate data decreases battery life.
      From the heart rate widget, hold UP.
      Select Options > Broadcast Heart Rate.
      The Forerunner device starts broadcasting your heart rate data, and appears.

      NOTE: You can view only the heart rate widget while broadcasting heart rate data from the heart rate widget.
      Pair your Forerunner device with your Garmin ANT‍+® compatible device.
      NOTE: The pairing instructions differ for each Garmin compatible device. See your owner’s manual.
      TIP: To stop broadcasting your heart rate data, select any key, and select Yes.

    • Bob Lo

      Mebbies of interest. I can pick up a HR from a Garmin ant+ hrm strap on the fr245 and Edge 1000 simultaneously so no need to broadcast.

  82. Keri Russell

    Your reviews are always the best. I appreciate all the details. On the widgets are you able to add your run so it shows your last run info and the total miles for the week?

  83. Keri Russell

    I always love your detailed reviews! Can you tell me on the widgets if you can add your run information that displays your last run and weekly mileage like you can on the Garmin 645?

  84. John Kissane

    Interestingly I noticed that an Irish retailer has a sale on the 645M which makes it a euro or two less than the new price of the 245M. Guess their thinking is that the 245M is too close to the older device for anyone to pay extra for the (in my experience) disappointing barometer.

  85. Dan Majgaard

    If I charge it while running, not having it on my wrist, will it register distance correctly? – Like attach to powerbank during ultra, and put it in a backpack…?

  86. Izlude

    Hi,

    Had a few quick question, I got this a week ago and love it so far.

    1. Battery life of 24-hour HR vs only during activity. How much of a drain on a battery life on the watch if it is enabled 24-hours vs only turning on during runs? The 24-hour HR tracking is cute and I don’t mind keeping it on if the battery drain is not bad

    2. Re-enable RD pod message: I accidentally disabled the message that reminds you to take off the RD pod at the end of a run, I tried to remove and add back on but still does not appear.

    3. Garmin Connect: Maybe bugs, but I notice with the Garmin Connect certain metrics don’t come up right. For example the total calories comes up as activities calories and the sleep metric doesn’t come up right which may be more due to the new watch.

  87. Joe

    Hi Ray, which one you recommend from Garmin 245 vs Polar Vantage M, Coros Apex/Pace vs Suunto Trainer? Your recommended the Suunto Trainer in your sport watch recommendation article but that’s from November 2018.

    • Jani

      I’m also interested in hearing a opinion on Garmin Forerunner 245 Music vs Polar Vantage M. I’ve used Polar OH1 with a phone and like the HR zone training features but the music features on the Forerunner would allow me to go on a run without having to take my phone with me. Now I need it since I’m always listening to music or podcasts during running and cycling.

  88. Dulle

    Hey Ray, do you know what is going on with Firstbeat features ? FR245 has started with 14, now is down to 11. Not sure but I think Respiration Rate, Lactate Threshold and Quick Stress Level Test have been removed from Firstbeat website.

    • runner-33

      Yes, these three Firstbeat features have disappeared and this is not a first. The original Vivoactive HR lost its Training Effect feature shortly after Ray’s review appeared back then.

      What’s a miracle to me is the fact that Firstbeat should know which features they’ve licensed to Garmin. And their database only shows the features and a text about the watch that seems to be a rephrased press release directly from the watch manufacturer. So it seems that what Firstbeat is publishing is fully approved by Garmin (which would make sense).

      My guess is that Garmin decided – for whatever reason – that the 245 and the Vivoactive HR back then had specs that were to good for the price point. Or they wanted to entirely remove enthusiast features to drive people to the FR945. This seems to have happened at a time when the Firstbeat database entry was already published.

      I’m now struggling even more to buy a FR245. Perhaps I could live without an altimeter, but I’d really like to have the Lactate Threshold feature.

    • Dulle

      Hey, thanx for the reply. Did you find any official statement from Garmin or other reviewers for removed FB features ?

    • Those features were never part of the product. Not in the product itself, nor in any spec sheets I ever saw (internal Garmin ones or public facing ones).

      I suspect what happened is far more boring: Someone at FirstBeat simply copied the FR945 listing and got it mixed up on the FR245. Simple human error on data entry, that’s all.

    • Thomas

      Hi Ray

      Now this is clear – you could update this section:

      Of course, at his point you may be trying to understand the difference between the Forerunner 245 and the Forerunner 645 series? No problems, here ya go:

      With:
      Lactate Threshold Test
      Quick Stress Level Test

  89. Reno Stirrat
  90. Yarj

    hello, even if the 245 has no barometric altimeter, is it possible during the running activity to display the altitude and the height difference gained?

  91. Matthew Alm

    I have heard that the sony chipsets are less accurate than the older chipsets garmin was using. I am currently using a fr230 and am looking to upgrade. Will there a noticeable decrease in GPS reliability compared to the 645 or 230/235. Or is it just one of those things no one notices at all?

    • Chris

      Hi Matthew,

      I have been running the same routes where I live for years, so much so, that I don’t need a GPS watch to tell me the distances. My experience so far (just 2 runs in with the 245) is that the 245 is on par with the 935. I did use a Polar Vantage for 1 month, but returned it since the gps was way off, and the screen was too dim. That was in October, so maybe the Vantage has improved accuracy. I decided to save money and go with the 245 (instead of the 945) since I just run and bike. Though I was disappointed that the watch doesn’t have a barometric sensor (compare to the 645 and 945), it wasn’t a deal breaker, and I’m happy with the watch so far.

      Regards,

      Chris,

  92. Xandegui77

    Ray, great review!
    Will I have significant better HR measure using Polar H10 with Garmin 245 while doing fast intervals?
    If I swim with a H10 or OH1, will the 245 show or record the HR while swimming, or at least on every rest break? Or the recording of OH1/H10 could be merged with the after the workout with the HR data captured by the Polar ANT+ updated sensors?
    If don’t, is there a way to record HR data with the 245 (Garmin HRM-TRI/SWIMM) while swimming?

    • Rebecca

      Hi!
      I’m a swimmer and asked about straps and data. Please see “Jens” response below (if u haven’t already). It was really helpful. I appreciate the community and the feedback.
      Best,
      RJ

  93. TR

    Hi, wonderful review as usual, very appreciated.

    I’m thinking of switching from an old Polar RC3 (which will sadly be phased out come end of year) to Garmin.

    Just wondering if the music version allows setting playback speed to say 1.5x? Asking this because I would like to listen to audiobooks during runs.

    Thanks in advance!

  94. wacomme

    I don’t have a sports watch. I can buy a used 935 for $300. Would this be a better deal than a new 245? Or, is the 945 worth the price over the 935?

  95. Charlie

    DC, as you work so closely with clevertraining, do you have any info when these watches will be available in UK/Europe?
    I’m kind of disappointed, I live in UK and I bought Garmin 245M the same day as your review appeared through your website from clevertraining.co.uk. Since them, there is still a note that the watches will be available in early May. Middle of May is quickly approaching now and nothing is happening. No news from them at all…

  96. rebecca

    Hi,
    I’ve been searching through comments to find some information about the HRM-swim strap compatibility with the new 245.
    I’m a competitive masters swimmer & competitive runner. I’m training for Nationals as well as several half marathons.
    I just bought the 245. I would like to see HR data for high intensity interval training in the pool. Can I use the 245 with the HRM swim strap? Garmin is no help. The website has not updated the compatibility of the 245 with the TRI or Swim straps. Have the 3rd party apps updated their ability to process the data from the straps? I would ideally like to see HR data in real time. Maybe that will be possible soon?

    • Jens

      Hi rebecca,

      Some unqualified guesses from me. I’m very sure the HRM-swim strap works since it uses ANT+ and all Garmin watches use ANT+. As for HR in realtime while swimming, I am fairly sure it will never happen with Garmin (for swim activity). The only way to get that is to use a Polar V800 with their H7 or H10 strap as they use analog signal, or to use a Polar Vantage M or V (with OHR) or for instance a Suunto watch with OHR (Spartan Trainer Wrist HR for instance). In theory it’s possible to start an indoor “run” session using Garmin and have for instance a Mio Link broadcast HR (from wrist) placed next to the watch during swimming, but I wouldn’t recommend that myself. Error prone and not very accurate.

      I just did a half marathon last weekend myself, it frigging started snowing while running. Not ideal to run fast I can tell ya! *shiver*

      Hope that helped 🙂

    • Xandegui77

      Jens, if it’s impossible to have HR in realtime, what’s the problem? 245 neither can receive the signal in realtime nor receive cached data to be merged later?
      Polar OH1 or H10 could give at leas better readings with sensor and watch above the water level? For example at rest time between intervals? Or for that the pulse sensor is fine?

    • Jens

      The problem is ANT+ (as well as BLE). The signal cannot be transmitted in water, so no realtime HR is possible. I haven’t read the details for 245 but I assume the 245 will support cached HR for swim which will sync from the strap after getting out of the water, so most likely it does support HR + strap for swim, only not in realtime, only afterwards for analysis. Above water any sensor is fine 🙂

      I think both ANT+ and BLE can transmit like 2-3cms in water so that’s why it would be possible to start an indoor activity (not swim) which has HR and wear a sensor next to watch in water, like Mio Link. I guess OH1 should work as well.
      Hope that answered the question?

    • Xandegui77

      Jens, if you look at the table it says that it don’t record HR while swimming, 945 does with the HRM-TRI band.
      So if we want HR record and merge at the exercise when finished we need a 945 + TRI-HRM strap.
      I could think buying a 945 but never a TRI-HRM where the sensor is permanently fixed to the strap and have bad durability reviews on Amazon and doesn’t have Bluetooth.
      It would be awesome an update TRI-HRM with removable strap and Bluetooth, better HR measurements at fast intervals, and with Running Dynamics as a bonus.

    • Rebecca

      Hi,
      I bought the 245, which is my first smart watch, for running and pool swimming. I read everything from Ray’s review, and went into the store armed with lots of information. The sales people didn’t even know what I knew. lol. They were unsure of whether the swim strap would work, so they contacted Garmin directly, which took a few days. People at Garmin were initially unsure, so they took it up the chain. (sighs & shakes head) Jens, you were right, the strap works bc it’s ANT+, but the website doesn’t show that it works with the 245. It’s interesting that the website of a technology company isn’t really easily navigable nor is the information current. (big sigh). Now, I’ve got the swim strap on order and am getting the foot pod, too, since I have to do a lot of training on a treadmill.
      Thank you for all the great information.
      Just keep swimming! 🙂
      RJ

    • Rob

      Hi Rebecca,

      Good discussion and what everyone who wants swimming HR, wants to know.

      I’m not so sure it is just as simple as ANT+ (there are different feature levels).
      To use the HRM-Swim the watch has to be able to download the data recorded offline when the stop button is pressed. This is quite different to receiving ANT+ HR broadcast in real-time.

      Do let us know how you get on. It will be fantastic if this works properly.

      Rob

    • Alma

      Hi Rebecca and fellow swimmers,

      I am also a competitive masters swimmer/runner and occasionally participate in triathlons. I have experimented a bit with swimming with technology and the results have been frustrating.

      I have tried; VA3, Polar Vantage M, OH1, and Apple Watch Series 4. The VA3 was very frustrating, there is no auto-pause (which is a big deal for people who are doing short repeats!) and it never correctly identified butterfly. The Polar Vantege M was ok- it has auto pause and the Opticial HR works mostly ok although it would frequently miss the boat during high-heart-rate sets. I also find it a bit big to swim with and it will only identify butterfly if you are really sprinting (about 50 fly pace for me- shame that I swim 100 and 200 fly!). The OH1 has been working beautifully, but of course you don’t get any distance or stroke data. I have been wearing the OH1 in the clip attached to my swim cap, since the suggested position on the goggle strap was a disaster for me. The Apple Watch worked really well for swimming, impressive optical HR and butterfly ID (100m pace, although not always 200 pace) but it’s pretty crappy for serious run training and challenging to get the data out intact in a way that training peaks, etc. can interpret properly.

      Let us know if the 245 receives the cached HR data from the HRM swim. It would be wonderful if that were the case! The lack of auto-pause would be annoying, but I guess we could just log the entire session in drill mode and not even have to wear 40-50 grams on the wrist.

  97. Xandegui77

    Jens, if you look at the table it says that it don’t record HR while swimming, 945 does with the HRM-TRI band.
    So if we want HR record and merge at the exercise when finished we need a 945 + TRI-HRM strap.
    I could think buying a 945 but never a TRI-HRM where the sensor is permanently fixed to the strap and have bad durability reviews on Amazon and doesn’t have Bluetooth.
    It would be awesome an update TRI-HRM with removable strap and Bluetooth, better HR measurements at fast intervals, and with Running Dynamics as a bonus.

    • Jens

      Oops, see, my bad!! Ok then at least rebecca knows which watch not to buy. Thanks for clearing this out! I hadn’t noticed, sorry for any confusion I gave!!!
      How weird to have pool swim as activity but not include HR recording then, but I guess you get what you pay for. It isn’t a swim watch.

  98. Sune B.

    As always a great review Ray! 🙏🏻

    As a fellow geek I’ve been through a great number of watches (forerunner 225, Apple Watch 2, Withings Steel HR Sport, Garmin Vivoactive 3, Apple Watch 4 etc).

    Now I fell in love with the Edge 530 so wanted to go back to Garmin for watch as well. Just ordered both for Clevertraining – 10 % discount easily makes it the best deal.

    So thanks for that as well. 😉

    For you guys comparing 245 and 645 differences: don’t forget that 245 has Gallileo support as well.

  99. Chris Null

    After several years with the 235 and not requiring more features on a running watch than already included, the ONE thing that would immediately motivate me to upgrade is a revision to the backlight. In the early morning hours , with my eyes, the 235 backlight washes out the ability to quickly focus, or focus at all, on current pace making it especially difficult in interval work. Any chance this challenge was addressed with an updated illumination approach on the 245? Or do other models do it differently? thanks y’all!

  100. David

    Am I correct in my understanding of this review that the 245 will not produce an elevation profile for a run?

    • IVAYLO BENOV

      It will, but it will be map-based (using the GPS for location and using the known elevation at that location), rather than using a barometric altimeter (generally more accurate when it comes to tracking elevation).

    • Tim J

      Do you have a reference for this? I didn’t see this anywhere. It was my understanding that the 245 only uses GPS vertical positioning (like the 235) and does not have maps. GPS vertical positioning works similarly to horizontal positioning, but is less accurate. I use a map-based tool to correct elevation data post-run, but if the 245 can do this by itself that would be great.

    • IVAYLO BENOV

      Sorry, Tim! I guess I didn’t phrase it correctly. I meant exactly what you said, but you said it better. In other words based on the location (established by the GPS) Garmin calculate the elevation and the elevation changes. However, the 245 doesn’t have maps (though you can upload courses). Naturally, this approach is dependent on the accuracy (or lack of) of the GPS. In other words, if you are on a bridge, but the GPS is off by 10-ft and places you down at the river, the elevation gain shown would be much greater as it assumed you went all the way down and then climbed all the way up. I hope this makes sense?

  101. Frank G2

    So the new 245 has pulseox, common for hiking, but no barometric sensor…🤔🤔🤔. I also read that respiration is NOT being offered due to errors. Sigh.

  102. Joslyn

    Great review as always. I think I will finally will buy a new Garmin watch. Two questions I hope you can help me with. I run and bike quite a lot and to challenge myself I do 2 to 4 triathlons (sprint and OD) a year. With the Forerunner 245 I can do indoor swim trainings. What happens if I go swimming outdoor? Will it track that for duration and distance?
    I don’t deepdive into all the data a 945 will collect and for the few triathlons I do I find the 945 to high a pricepoint for me. But I do like a multisport function for when I enter a triathlon race. Do you have any experience with Connect IQ triathlon apps like link to apps.garmin.com

    thanks

    • Jens

      Hi Joslyn,

      I think the specs say it doesn’t support open water swimming (but that might not be correct info?) but if it doesn’t you could “cheat” and use running activity while swimming, then change type in Garmin Connect or in the app to make it open water swimming so you have the right distance and time.

      That’s how I used my FR225 for XC skiing until I got newer Garmin watches with better capabilities 🙂 (Am still annoyed that Garmin doesn’t support ice skating so when I do skating I use Polar or Suunto watches)

  103. Andrew

    When my run is uploaded to Strava from my 245M, the elevation is way higher than it is in Garmin connect, and I have to manually click elevation correction in Strava to get it closer to the Garmin connect value. Is this a problem with the watch or with Strava? Is there a good for it?

    • Jens

      Hi Andrew, that is very interesting to read, and also surprising. I don’t think I’ve seen this problem with either of my Garmin watches, only with Polar Vantage V.
      I wonder if I have a setting that differs from you but that’s hard to find out.

      I’m very interested to read about reasons or solutions to this problem!

  104. Nik

    Fantastic review as always. I’ve discovered the 245 exists a week after upgrading my 230 to the 735XT! I wanted a HR wrist monitor, but I’m now considering returning the 735XT as I’m “only” a runner so do not need the XT functionality. I also prefer the idea of having the newer technology of a 2019 watch vs a 2016 watch, Galileo included. Would this be a sensible switch? One thing I do love on the 735 (and there reason I choose it over the 235) is the Strava Live Segment feature. Is this feature included on the 245? Thanks for any advice …

  105. Nik

    Ah ha – I couldn’t see the device comparison on my phone but now checking on a laptop I can see the 245 doesn’t have live segments. Disappointing. I’ll stick with the 735 for now.

    • Craig Dennen

      Nik, why not swap the 735 for a a 645 – that has Strava Live segments and is much more up to date than the 735? Not sure where you are located but you can pick up a 645M from wiggle for £289.99 if you are new to them and use thew NEWGB discount code

  106. Lee Parker

    As always Ray, Fantastic review and you’re usual in-depth testing!
    I previously had a 235 HR and then Vivoactive 3 which I recently sold and tried a Fossil Sport as I thought something a little “smarter” would appeal being able to load music but unfortunately the fitness apps (Strava, GhostRacer etc) just arent well designed on any good for any serious about fitness (Be it connecting sensors, crashes, battery life) so I’m back on the lookout and I think this may well be in based on the review.

    Keep up the great work

  107. Vlad

    Thanks for review!

    May I ask for a piece of advice?
    How is it important to have barometric altimeter in such kind of device?

    I’m an amateur in the running, completed halfs and marathon. Looking to keep going for more races and probably for cycling in nearest future

    Which model can fit best for these purposes?
    FM245 or FM645?

    Thank you!

    • Tim J

      I have the same issue. I was hoping for a barometric altimeter in the 245. That said, I realize it may not be very important to a lot of people. It is most useful if you want to monitor elevation or vertical ascent/descent during the activity. There are tools for correcting elevation based on topographic maps after the activity. I use SportTracks. The barometric altimeter is also needed for measuring stairs climbed and (I think) cycling power. Unfortunately, I see in the Garmin Forums that the barometric altimeter in the 645 has had accuracy problems, so that may not be the answer either. 935 is another option. Personally, I’ll probably keep using my 235 until 655 comes out or the 945 goes on sale–whenever that may be.

    • Vlad

      Thank you Tim
      Really appreciate your reply!

  108. PeterScott

    As usual. Your reviews are amazing.

    But why are the HRM testing charts so tiny as to be unreadable? When I click on the images (Windows PC), the images pop out, but remains the same small size, and are unreadable.

    Also there is a subscribe to newsletter button below, but it can’t be clicked.

  109. Tyler

    Ray-

    Any idea when/if other Music subscription sites like Google Play, YouTube music, etc. could be added to Garmin watches?

    I’m about to pull the trigger on the 235, or 235 Music.
    If other subs aren’t being added, the extra cost for the Music version likely isn’t worth it to me.

  110. Matt

    Thanks for the detailed review. I bought one of these yesterday, and based my decision largely on your review. It’s my first Garmin, and the UI is proving frustrating, but poweful–lots of details and stats are available if I can figure out how to use them.

    The watch feels much lighter on my wrist than I expected. I think that’s because the casing is not metal–it’s a light-weight plastic/composite/polymer material.

  111. Grant Carter

    Great review as per your long history! Question. I have a Polar M430 and does not feature a scrolling screen of different windows to monitor HR, pace, time distance etc etc. My older Garmin 310XT did that. Does the new 245 have scrolling screens or is a manual scroll required as per the M430?

    • Lee Parker

      Within the activity screen, there is an “Auto Scroll” feature for each activity profile you setup/use.

      Got mine Thursday very impressed coming back to Garmin from Android Wear, Spotify offline music and a 35minute run used 8% battery, Previously my Android Wear would have been near empty if not shut down

  112. Phil M

    Does the 245 have instant pace like the 735xt?

  113. Al404

    Is it possible to completely turn off bluetooth?
    On online manual page I could find:

    “Turning Off the Bluetooth Smartphone Connection
    1) Hold LIGHT to view the controls menu.
    2) Select to turn off the Bluetooth smartphone connection on your Forerunner device.”

    It says “Bluetooth smartphone connection” on some forum I read that this only hides the watch from the phone but keep BT connection active with other external device like HR band

    Is it true?

  114. Martin

    Does model 245 support navigation acc.to pre-loaded GPX? Haven’t found this and need to be sure before buy. Thx! M.

  115. Crickett

    A couple of follow-up questions: Is there a size difference in circumference/thickness compared with the 235? I always appreciate that info since I am a small-boned female and these watches almost all look ridiculous for me to wear 24/7. In the comparison chart included at the bottom, it looks like the 235 doesn’t support swimming, but I thought it did. (I don’t use that function but it’s definitely there; however not open water.) And to be sure I understand, for the SOS feature to work, do you have to have your phone with you? Thank you for your in-depth reviews!

  116. Well, I’d say the Forerunner 245 has a decent design, but not so remarkable. However, I like the activity tracking features inherent, and its a little more stronger owing to the Corning Gorilla glass. Obviously those are the reasons I’ll give it 3.5 stars.

    Nice review anyway, Keep it up Ray.

  117. Steve

    Hi Ray- great review as always!

    One thing missing i was hoping to see is a couple size comparison shots with similar/previous gen watches. Can you add some (when you having your rolling pin available)? Or, in the mean time, how does this compare to the 945 and also the 735xt?

  118. Marc

    At the moment I have a Polar m400 and what I like is that I have 2 profiles for outdoor running:
    ‘road running’ & ‘track & field’.
    For ‘road running’ I enabled the auto lap function (1 km) and for ‘track & field’ is disabled this (in order to manually record my laps).
    Is a similar thing possible with the FR245? I used to have the FR305 and I always had to enable or disable the autolap function before starting a training, because it didn’t have separate profiles

    • Craig Dennen

      Marc you can copy an activity such as Run and rename it. That way you can choose whatever specific features you like to use including alerts and datafields on the new activity profile. For my training runs I always use guided workouts and switch autolap off and this is how I manage it

  119. James Valadez

    Hey Ray, or anyone with a 245, I have a question. Can you set up more than three custom data field pages? I can only set up three and then there are the premade ones like the map, heart rate screen, running Dynamics, etc. Is there any way I can do more custom ones? I like having different ones for different purposes.

    • Craig Dennen

      James I believe that three is the limit (vs ten at least on the 645M). Why not create multiple activity profiles and tweak the three available screens to suit. I have them set-up for Train, Race, Parkrun etc. Works well and hopefully three screens will suffice