• Amazon.com
  • Clever Training
  • Clever Training Europre

Garmin Forerunner 945 Multisport Watch In-Depth Review


Ahh yes, the moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived: The plastic Fenix 5 Plus. Except, wait…not really. Yes, it has everything the Fenix 5 Plus does, but it actually has more. It’s got special sauce both from a hardware and a software standpoint. Which makes sense, it’s almost a year later since the Fenix 5 Plus came out.

Sure, the new FR945 gains things like onboard music storage/playback (including Spotify), as well as contactless payments and SPo2 readings. All staples of more recent Garmin wearables. But it goes beyond those too. It also takes in all of the new features of the $1,500 Garmin MARQ watches, including temperature and altitude acclimation as well as more detailed training load/focus metrics. And while they were at it, it joins almost every other 2019 Garmin device in adopting the Sony GPS chipsets – which in turn gives it longer battery life (though, not without some downsides I’ll dive into).

Now this wasn’t the only device released today. In fact, Garmin released two other series: The Forerunner 245/245 Music and the Forerunner 45/45S, which are at lower price points. Atop that, Garmin also announced new female health tracking – and it’s actually incredibly impressive how much detail there is in it, so check back for a post on that coming up a bit later today.

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:


There’s no better place to start than with a complete list of what’s new/changed from the previous edition. In this case, I’ve got a complete run-through video where I dive into all these features. Or well, most of them anyways. If I dove into everything it’d be Planet Earth length.

But, if you want a consolidated text-driven list, then below will suit your fancy. I’ve put together this list using the Forerunner 935 as my baseline for whether something has changed. Obviously, with the Fenix 5 Plus series coming out half-way through the previous two years, a lot of these features first appeared there. Still, here goes:

– Added Music Storage/Playback via Bluetooth headphones, including Spotify
– Added onboard detailed routable maps for the region you bought it in, with heatmap data in it
– Added contactless/NFC payments
– Added Pulse Ox (pulse oximeter data)
– Added Respiration Rate (post-activity, also as a data field)
– Added new Garmin ELEVATE optical HR sensor (V3, same as MARQ/FR245)
– Added training load focus stats
– Added deeper training effect details/metrics
– Added stress tracking
– Added body battery functionality
– Added heat acclimation (for any workouts in temps over 71°F/21.6°C)
– Added altitude acclimation (for any time or workouts spent above 850m/2,788ft)
– Added Incident Detection (if you crash your bike it notifies someone)
– Added respiration rate (with a chest strap)
– Added Safety/Tracking Assistance (you can press button to send help alert to friends/family)
– Added ClimbPro for automated climb notifications on running/cycling/hiking/XC skiing activities
– Revamped race predictor to be a bit more strict on predictions (more than just VO2Max lookup charts now)
– Increases battery life to 36 hours in GPS mode (and 60 hours in UltraTrac mode)
– VO2Max now compensates for heat (previously it didn’t)
– Training Status now compensates for heat (previously it didn’t)
– Redesigned a bunch of the user interface, especially for post workout stats

Here’s a couple of quick things that don’t change, just in case you’re curious:

– It has virtually identical shell/case as FR935 did. Trick to telling them apart is the slight difference in button color (FR935 was silver, FR945 is dark grey)
– Uses same straps/bands as FR935 did, so all bands are interchangeable

Below, you can see the two units side by side and the slight differences in the button color (FR945 is on the bottom):


Next, if you’re looking at the difference between the Forerunner 945 versus the Forerunner 245, I highlight those in my FR245 video. But the overarching thing is that the FR945 is a multisport/triathlon watch at its core, whereas the FR245 is focused on runners. The FR945 does everything the FR245 does and craptons more, whereas the FR245 essentially takes the majority of the running-specific features and leaves the rest. Further, the FR245 doesn’t necessarily show the same level of detail as the FR945, even if it’s actually recording it. For example, you don’t get the training load focus screens or altitude/temp compensation screens on the FR245 display, but behind the scenes it’s actually doing that math for other metrics (and in case you sync it to something like an Edge 530/830). Make sense? Again, see that review for all the nuanced details.

And finally, as to whether or not the Fenix 5 Plus will get any of the new training load/acclimation metrics stuffs, Garmin says nope. Well, technically they said ‘No’, but either way, the resultant is the same: Nuttin.

The Basics:


As with most past Garmin watches, if you’re familiar with other Garmin wearables in the last few years, then you’ll find most of the things in this section repetitive. That’s even more so true if you’ve got a Fenix 5 Plus, in which case almost everything is identical in the basics section (the new stuff comes in under sport usage). Still, let’s get cookin!

To begin, we’ve got the watch face. You’ll see a slightly revamped default watch face showing some key stats (above). But everything on that is customizable, including every bit of data. You can either customize it using built-in watch faces, or you can make your own (or download 3rd party ones), using the Connect IQ App Store. You can even put your own face on it, if you wanted to.

Garmin-FR945-CustomizeFields Garmin-FR945-ChooseWatchFaces

From an activity tracking perspective the FR945 captures all the usual suspects. So you’ve got steps, stairs, sleep, and heart rate (plus Pulse Ox, but more on that in a moment). You can iterate through these in a bunch of widgets, of which most are redesigned on the FR945 compared to the Fenix 5 or FR935. And again, you can also download other widgets/apps to display more data. Many Forerunner 935 users will use custom watch faces that show extraordinary amounts of training/related metrics on them. Here’s a small gallery of the default/stock widgets:

All of this general activity tracking data is then automatically transmitted to Garmin Connect via your smartphone (Garmin Connect Mobile) app. Once on the Garmin Connect Mobile you can see the stats there as well as 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.

2019-04-29 13.59.14 2019-04-29 13.59.02 2019-04-29 13.59.07

The unit will further track sleep data automatically, though, no Garmin unit tracks naps correctly. Still, for regular sleep it’ll figure that out automatically, including the exact time you fall asleep (be it at 11PM or if working graveyard shifts – 9AM).

2019-04-29 14.35.24 2019-04-29 14.35.50 2019-04-29 14.36.58

The FR945 includes a new optical heart rate sensor package, previously rolled out on the Garmin MARQ watches last month. The most notable thing about this is that it includes the new SPo2 measurement sensor on it, as well as the usual 24×7 (recording at 1-second intervals. This is the green light you see on the back of the unit. Whereas the red light is for the SpO2 sensor:


From a continuous heart rate standpoint, it tracks this constantly and then uploads it into Garmin Connect mobile as well. I use resting HR as a great indicator of when you’re over-trained, fatigued, or when sickness is on the way. I’ve discussed how many people are tracking resting HR and 24×7 HR data to figure out all sorts of things here.

2019-04-29 14.38.28 2019-04-29 14.38.42

In general I don’t really have any issues with the accuracy of the 24×7 HR data. It’s pretty much within a few BPM of any other devices I’ve used, including some dedicated sensors. We’ll talk more about the workout optical HR data later on though, as that’s in a different category (and typically vendors significantly bump up the optical sensor light/power draw during a workout versus in 24×7 mode).

With the addition of Pulse OX last summer to the Fenix 5X Plus, we’ve seen Garmin add it to numerous other wearables. 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, and typically tracks in 15-minute increments if enabled, and is overlaid against your altitude:

Garmin-FR945-PulseOx-24hr-Stats Garmin-FR945-PulseOx-7Day-Stats

The challenge here with Pulse Ox 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. That manifests itself in the readings you get. You’ll see below that 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.

2019-04-29 14.38.59 2019-04-29 14.39.03

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 results as any other unit on the market, medical grade or otherwise. Running around town at the grocery store? A bit less so.

Shifting slightly to some non-sports stuff, the Forerunner 945 supports smartphone notifications like all previous Garmin watches. You’ll see the notifications per however you’ve configured them on your smartphone via the normal phone notification center, and then they show up on the unit itself. You can then open up a given notification to get more detail about it (such as a longer text message):

Garmin-FR945-SmartphoneNotifications Garmin-FR945-SmartphoneNotifications-Detail

The FR945 also supports the new smartphone notification privacy mode, which means the content of notifications won’t be displayed unless you turn your wrist towards yourself, or press a button. This is off by default, but can be enabled in the settings. The goal here being that coworkers at a conference table can’t see your sexts come in.

At this point we’ve gone through all the basics, but if you’re looking for a bit of a user interface tour, I’ve put together this simple video that just walks through the menus. It’s long, and probably boring. But if you’re into kinky user interface menus…this video is your jam:

With that, let’s shift over to sport specific metrics, usage, and related goodness.

Sport Usage:


The Forerunner 945 is aimed squarely at the multisport athlete. Which means that its goal is to be a performance watch above everything else. Whether you run, ride, or swim – or do any of the umpteen million other sports that the unit supports, the goal is to give you a crapton of metrics about that sport.

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. But if you go to kayaking or rowing, you’ll get overall metrics just fine, but not things like paddling rates. So again, it varies. In any case, here’s the complete sporting listing:

Trail Run, Run, Hike, Bike, Bike Indoor, Open Water Swim, Triathlon, Golf, Navigate, Track Me, Map, Multisport, Treadmill, Indoor Track, Climb, MTB, Pool Swim, Ski, Snowboard, XC Ski, SUP, Row, Row Indoor, TruSwing (Golf related), Project Waypoint, Walk, SwimRun, Kayak, Strength, Cardio, Yoga, Floor Climb, Elliptical, Stair Stepper, Clocks, Other [Custom]

After you’ve pondered which sport you’re gonna do, you’ll go ahead and tap the upper right button, which opens up the sport menu. By default it’ll show you the last sport you did, and will automatically start looking for sensors and GPS (if an outdoors sport). You can press up/down to change through to other sports:


Speaking of sensors, the FR945 supports all the same sensors as the Fenix 5 series and the FR935 did, that includes Bluetooth Smart sensors as well.  There’s no additional/new sensor types support here. Here’s the full listing of sensor types it supports:

Headphones (Bluetooth), External Heart Rate (ANT+/Bluetooth Smart), Speed/Cadence (ANT+/Bluetooth Smart), Cycling Power Meters (ANT+/Bluetooth Smart), Footpods (ANT+/Bluetooth Smart), VIRB Action Camera (ANT+), Tempe temperature sensor (ANT+), Shimano Di2 (private-ANT), Cycling Gear Shifting (ANT+), Cycling Lights (ANT+), Cycling Radar (ANT+), Extended Display (ANT+), RD Pod (ANT+), Muscle O2 (ANT+), Garmin inReach (ANT+).

So basically, anything and everything you could want. Also, it supports Garmin’s ‘Xero’ lineup of range finders/sights.  The only notable exception to the list above is cycling ANT+ FE-C trainers, which are not connectable here (but are using Garmin’s Edge devices).

You can save/connect multiple sensors of the same type.  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.  We’ve seen companies create tire pressure sensors and aero sensors.


Note that sensors are across the entire device. So you define sensors and all activity profiles/sports can use them. Speaking of those sports above, each one is customizable with unique data pages/metrics, and settings.  All of these screens are customizable, and you can create/add new pages/screens as you see fit (a crapton of them, more than I could create). There are also stock screens with certain data types, including Virtual Partner, Compass, Elevation, Map, and Music controls.

However, custom data pages can have up to four data fields on them, in a variety of patterns.  You can choose the pattern and then choose the individual data fields to add to those pages. Here’s a gallery of different page looks:

Like the Fenix 5 series, there’s nothing on the market that can match the customization of data fields/metrics as the higher end Garmin series. Though, I do really wish we could see more data fields on a single page, like Suunto supports on certain watches in certain configurations. It’s also in these settings that you can configure things like auto lap, auto scroll, and numerous other ‘auto’ things.

Now that we’ve spent half our life setting things up (in reality, you don’t need to do anything above I noted, you can just press start and go), it’s time to begin our workout. Just press the start button again and it’ll start recording and displaying your metrics. Here’s a quick look at what some of those metrics look like in yet another gallery. It’s like the Louvre around here with all these galleries:

In terms of things like pace stability, I’ve had no issues with that. In fact, I think I’ve seen seen slightly more stable paces – like this morning at the track doing a track workout. Again, we’ll talk about accuracy of GPS a bit later. I’ve also had zero connectivity issues with sensors, be it power meters, heart rate sensors, or the Garmin RD-Pod (for Running Dynamics).

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. It’s divided up into a rotating upper portion that lists Summary, Training Effect, VO2Max & Recovery, and Training Status. Then lower down you’ll get more detailed stats about different areas, such as laps or a map or training effect. For fun, below is the GPS track from my track workout last week, almost looks like an icon, huh?


And this is where we start to get to some of the newness in terms of training load related bits. The first is the new Training Effect labels and details. While Training Effect has been around a long time on Garmin devices, there’s now additional information about the exact training benefit of each workout. For example, my track workout shows the load at the bottom (303), as well as the primary benefit up top (Anaerobic) in purple. Down below it also breaks out the exact aerobic and anaerobic benefits:


If I go down one button press, I then get the detail for both aerobic and anaerobic, showing me exactly what it’s benefiting – in this case, it’s ‘Impacting Tempo’, which is logical given these were longer 800m intervals.


And the same for the anaerobic impact, showing exactly what it’s doing:


Of course, for many people this can still be a bit fuzzy. So Garmin went a step further and just simplified this entirely, which you’ll find in two parts, via the ‘Training Status’ widget. This first piece shows your current fitness (in my case, fitness is actually going up), while concurrently my load is stabilized:


You’ll also see the little mountain and sun icons at the bottom, more on that in a moment. If I enter the widget I’ll get my current VO2Max, but the next page after that is more important – it’s my 7-day load. It’s here that I can see breakouts by load type (remember the aerobic load color coding above, with purple?), and the load per day. It also shows the optimal load:


Go down once and I’ve got a page that is sorta the pinnacle of this entire journey: 4 Week Load Focus. The idea here is that you’re trying to get the different types of training load properly aligned to the little ‘pills’ you see on the screen. You can see the various areas listed briefly when you first open the screen:

Garmin-FR945-Training-Focus-Labels Garmin-FR945-Training-Focus-Details

And if I press the start button, it’ll give me some general guidance on what I could do to even things out a bit. Note, the below photo was taken a few days prior when it was giving me different guidance.


The next page then shows me my current recovery time:


After that, I’ve got altitude acclimation. Both of these are actually quietly present on the Garmin MARQ series as well. The goal behind both of these are post-workout calculations tied to figuring out whether or not you’re acclimated to a given temperature or altitude. Obviously, both can significantly impact performance.  Starting with heat acclimation, the function leverages nearby weather stations. So your unit has to have connected to Garmin Connect Mobile within 3 hours of starting your ride in order to receive that weather data (it doesn’t use on-device temperature).

You’ll see small icons on the bottom of the training status page if you’re in the midst of acclimating to anything. In the case of below last week, I managed to score both heat and altitude acclimation icons:


Altitude acclimation/adaption starts with a minimum threshold at altitudes above 850m/2,788ft, and tops out at 4,000m/13,123ft (Garmin doesn’t calculate above that level, sorry folks). Garmin says that they divide up training vs living altitudes, just as typical studies would. The company says that adaptation algorithms within the MARQ/Forerunner 945/Edge 530/830 assume total adaptation after 21 days, and that adaptation is faster at the beginning of altitude exposure. Additionally, adaptation will decay within 21-28 days depending on acclimation level.


Fun geekery moment for you: On the Forerunner 945/MARQ, the altitude acclimation is based both on workouts, but also on where you sleep each night. At midnight the unit will quietly take an altitude reading (actually, it’s doing it all the time anyway), and then use that reading to determine acclimation. Where this gets fun is when you take redeye flights, as it’ll take that reading at between 6,000-8,000ft (pressurized cabin altitude of a commercial airliner). At first you may think this would skew results, but in reality – it’s actually correct. Your body is acclimating to that altitude. Where it’s slightly off is that it assumes you’re spending 24 hours at that altitude, rather than the 5-14 hours you’re likely spending at that elevation.

Meanwhile, the next screen is heat acclimation.


For heat acclimation it applies a heat correction factor for rides above 71°F/22°C, using a percentage based amount from published studies (humidity is also factored into this as well). This is then shown in the training status widget. Garmin says they assume full acclimation takes a minimum of 4 days, and acclimation/adaptation to a given high temperature will automatically decay after 3 days of skipped training within that heat level.

Some of this is available within the Garmin Connect Mobile app, but it’s messy and scattered at best. For example, here’s the Training Effect pages (under Performance stats, but not the self-titled ‘Training Stats’ section) – but this is missing the matching color coding of the device itself (no purple here):

2019-04-30 02.00.41 2019-04-30 02.00.46

However, the ‘Training Status’ section gets you a bit closer. Showing altitude acclimation as well as heat acclimation. But there’s still weird gaps. For example the ‘Load’ metric on the screen is missing a value on the main page. Though, it does do an interesting job at dividing up whether any given week was productive or not.

2019-04-30 02.00.59 2019-04-30 02.01.06

Here’s what happens when you click on load, more data pages – these much closer to what we see on the device:

2019-04-30 02.01.20 2019-04-30 02.01.23

Still, I feel like back on the main Garmin Connect Mobile dashboard there should absolutely positively be a Training Status widget that matches what I see on my device. Yet that doesn’t exist, nor can I add it. Basically this is all I get:

2019-04-29 14.48.28 2019-04-29 14.48.40

Don’t get me wrong, I know this is nitpicking – but it’s something that people constantly complain about Garmin Connect Mobile (even though I think these days the depth is actually better than all their competitors). But it’s not depth of data that’s the problem, it’s how cumbersome it is to find that data. Garmin’s entire marketing strategy around the FR945 is around these performance metrics. They made a full well-leaked YouTube video about it. Yet, in the mobile-first world of 2019, those metrics are buried 98 taps deep in the menus. Sigh.

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. 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:


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. At which point, we’ve covered how everything works from a sport specific standpoint. Of course, there’s countless nuances to other metrics you can dive into like VO2Max (which now accounts for heat), or stress tracking via HRV data.  One could spend weeks writing about all the data you can pull from a Garmin watch. Regrettably, I don’t have enough coffee to do that.

I do want to super briefly mention though that respiration rate is now a field you can add to your watch. That field will populate when connected to a heart rate strap/sensor. You’ll see it live both on the screen (like standing in the photo below), as well as later on within Garmin Connect.


One note about swimming is that unlike both Suunto and Polar, Garmin doesn’t capture heart rate data via the optical HR sensor while underwater. Garmin says that’s because the data isn’t as reliable. Which frankly, is kinda true. Though, I’ve found it varies a lot person to person. That’s probably why Polar basically says ‘Good luck with that’ for their wrist-based optical HR sensors for swimming, but, at least they allow it.  In the case of Garmin, you’ll need either the HRM-TRI or HRM-SWIM HR straps. These straps will capture data while swimming, and then download it after the swim to your watch, merging the data together.

The HRM-SWIM strap is designed for pool swims (it has a sticky surface on the back that holds well for flip/tumble turns). The downside to the much larger blue HRM-SWIM is that it’s not very comfortable out of the water, such as running. Whereas the HRM-TRI is designed primarily for openwater swims worn under a tri suit as it doesn’t have the stickiness, but is more akin to a regular HR strap that feels normal when out of the water running or riding.

The catch with both straps is that you can’t see your HR live in the pool, as the digital signal won’t go through water (only analog signals will, and even Polar’s latest Vantage series doesn’t support that anymore).  The other catch to both straps is that they’re ANT+ only, unlike the new HRM-DUAL strap that has ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart. So you’re kinda in a pickle. Undoubtedly Garmin will eventually upgrade the HRM-TRI/SWIM with dual ANT+/Bluetooth, though it doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen immediately. Just sucks to buy something that’s basically so limited. Though frankly, if you want HR data this season, you’ve really only got one choice.

Finally, I want to briefly touch on maps. I discuss this far more extensively in my Fenix 5 Plus review (mapping/navigation/ClimbPro section here), where the features/functions are identical. But, all Forerunner 945’s have detailed maps for the region they were bought in. So if you bought the unit in Europe, you’ll have European maps, and in the US, North American maps. And so on.  These maps include digital elevation data as well within them. Here’s how they look on the watch:


You can move around the map using the upper right button, which iterates between zoom/pan/scroll. This allows you to both see the terrain around you, as well as navigate to points of interest or other places.  For example, there’s a full POI (points of interest) database on the unit, so you can find nearby restaurants, monuments, lodging, geographic points, and a slew of other spots. Functionally this is useful if perhaps you’re hiking and want to know how far it might be to a campsite or food, or to a given landmark.

Garmin-FR945-POI Garmin-FR945-POI-2 Garmin-FR945-AroundMe

You can also create ‘Round-Trip Courses’ for both running and cycling that allow you to set a given distance and desired direction of travel (if you want) and it’ll come up with a course using the internal heatmap data (aka ‘Trendline Popularity Routing’ data). It takes about 1-3 minutes (kinda a long time) and comes up with three differences courses. No internet connection is required for this.


Finally, you can follow any downloaded courses as well, using Garmin’s new smartphone course creator (quietly launched two weeks ago), or any other downloaded GPS files:

2019-04-30 02.17.39 2019-04-30 02.20.11 2019-04-30 02.18.26

Once following these routes, you’ll get instructions on when to turn, and when you’re off-route. The value of having the underlying map data becomes clear when you’re at an intersection of multiple trails and trying to have context of what’s around you. Previously with a FR935 you had breadcrumb trails but it was just over a grey background of nothingness. Now you can see that you’re along a river, or going towards a mountain. Or just near an ice cream shop. Whatever’s important in life.



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. Still, it is the first time we’ve seen it in the triathlon-focused Forerunner variants. And unlike the Forerunner 645, Vivoactive 3, and Forerunner 245 – there is no non-music variant of the Forerunner 945. Whereas those watches all had music and non-music variants, the FR945 simply just has music in the only version of the Forerunner 945 there is.

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. In fact, on the Forerunner 945/Fenix 5 Plus you can even set power-based audio alerts.

2019-04-30 02.25.40 2019-04-30 02.25.44

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.

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:


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 945 has 14.5GB (~6.6GB is usable). Note usable space will vary by region, as maps take up different amounts in North America than Europe than Asia, etc…

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:


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 945).

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).


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 in 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.


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.

It’s here you can select which music to play, be it streaming services music or manually transferred music.  It’s pretty much as you’d expect, allowing you to choose anything from specific albums to playlists to artists. It’s easy to navigate, even when running along.


So how does playback sound?

Well…just 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.


Still – I’ve had *zero* dropouts with the Forerunner 945 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.

Garmin Pay (NFC Payments):


Garmin Pay allows you to use your watch to pay for stuffs anytime there’s a contactless NFC reader to spend your money. Garmin Pay is the branding that covers the contactless/NFC payments, just like there’s Apple Pay on Apple devices, Fitbit Pay on Fitbit devices, and Samsung Pay on Samsung devices.  All of which allow you to use your watch to simply tap a contactless payment reader and pay for goods. Adoption varies by country, with Europe generally ahead of North America, and seemingly Australia (in my experience) well beyond everyone on this planet. In any case, the limiter here won’t likely be the retail establishments, but rather whether your bank supports it.

In the case of a watch, this is most useful in perhaps running or cycling scenarios where you have ‘known good’ stores that accepts contactless payments. Perhaps a coffee shop or such.  Obviously, many people will still carry a credit card, but I’ve found it handy in some rare scenarios.

Since launching Garmin Pay nearly two years ago, the number of banks supporting it has grown substantially (in numerous countries). If you haven’t looked at things in a while, hit up the list here to see if you’re good to go. See, it’s not as simple as being just Visa or Mastercard, rather – Garmin (like Apple and Samsung and Fitbit) have to negotiate with individual banks, not just credit card companies.  Of which there are thousands upon thousands worldwide.

To add your card you’ll go into the Garmin Connect Mobile smartphone app and simply follow the prompts. It’ll ask you to scan the card (or manually enter it in), as well as create a pin code in case your watch gets taken from you by your significant other in your sleep. It only takes 60-90 seconds:

2019-04-27 14.09.01 2019-04-27 14.09.04 2019-04-27 14.09.38

It’ll validate some magic with your bank, and in some (maybe all?) cases ask for a validation code as well (depending on the bank). After which it’ll give you final confirmation it’s added to the watch. Note that you’ll do this for each card you want to add to your digital wallet.

To use the payment card, simply long-hold the upper left button down when you’re ready to make a payment, then select the wallet option. After which, you’ll need to enter in your pin code that you created:

Garmin-FR945-GarminPay Garmin-Pay-FR945-PinCode

This passcode is good for 24 hours from entry, or until you’ve removed the watch from your wrist.  This is in line with Fitbit and Apple.  You’ve got about 30 seconds to scan the device and register a payment before the screen simply times out:


Once completed it’ll give you a quick confirmation on the screen (and also ideally on your card reader).  That’s it!

Ultimately, as with before – this works well enough, assuming you have a card supported and a store/shop that also supports contactless payments.  In my travels I’ve found the adoption by stores to vary a lot.  Of course, over time this technology will become completely commonplace in most countries/stores/devices, and thus, as a result, it will soon be as normal to pay with a watch as it is to pay with a credit card.  For now though, I see it more valuable for ‘known good’ establishments that allow you to skip carrying a wallet to grab a coffee at the end of a run or ride.

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 somehow athletes will still adore 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 not to 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 945 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. One technique I’ve been using a bit starting this review that’s worked exceedingly well is 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.


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 of Forerunner 945 testing.  This has included runs, rides, and swims in: Amsterdam (Netherlands), Mallorca (Spain), Kansas (USA), Northern California & Southern California (USA). Forests, mountains, oceans, 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. 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:


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.


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


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.


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


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, The Girl is running with the watch (I’ve got another set, also on the track at the same time). Her lineup is the Fenix 5s (original), the Suunto Trainer Wrist HR, the Forerunner 945, and the Forerunner 45. Here’s that data set:


What’s fun about this game is that it’s immediately obvious who did well. The name of the game here is keeping yourself within the bounds of the track. The Suunto Trainer was well outside of that – something The Girl could see on her wrist just looking at distances as she ran. She placed her bets mid-way through the workout.

Here’s the results if we toggle to just the FR45 and FR945. Almost perfectly within the bounds of the track. In The Girl’s case, she was actually across multiple lanes, so that’s correct. As is the squiggly into the trees to get a errant soccer ball for some kids.


There’s really no reason to further analyze this one – both the FR945 and FR45 nailed it. Both were in GPS+GLONASS modes.

For fun though, I was on the track at the same time, and here’s my FR945 and FR245 side by side. Not quite as good as The Girl’s tracks, but pretty good:


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:


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.


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.


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


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.


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

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:


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


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.


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 has 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 for 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:


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 Garmin 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 945 since mid-March, 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.

First let’s start and see how it handles steady-state running. This is an 8mi 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:


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.


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

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:



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:


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.


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


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:



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.


Let’s switch gears, literally, to cycling for a moment. Surely we’ll be able to find failures there. After all, Garmin optical HR sensors rarely work well in cycling outdoors.

In this case, about a 80-90 minute loop from the city to the countryside and back. Roads mostly smooth, but a cobblestone/brick town or two along the way. The data includes the FR945, the Polar Vantage V using the Polar OH1 Plus, and the Garmin HRM-DUAL. Here’s the data set.


Huh. It’s not half-bad. Didn’t expect that.

It’s best to divide up this ride into three basic chunks. Before and after the two yellow lines are where I’m in the city a bit more and focused more on avoiding people/dogs/etc, so my hand position will be a bit less stable, and my effort equally variable. However, between those two yellow lines is mostly smooth countryside sailing.


And sure enough, safe for a single error at the 23 minute marker after a section of brick, the Forerunner 945 seems to nail the main sections. In fact, even accounting for the stumbles at the beginning/end, this might very well be the best outdoor cycling optical HR sensor attempt I’ve seen from Garmin. Is it as good as a chest strap riding outdoors? No. But it’s not half bad.

Let’s head indoors for a moment then to a workout yesterday.  This one a 50 minute ride on Zwift. In this case we’ve got the Forerunner 45 on one wrist, and the FR945 on the other. Plus a HRM-DUAL chest strap and then a TICKR-FIT paired to Zwift. Here’s the data set.


Huh. Well, that first 7-8 minutes is more or less a car wreck. While I was riding, since I was riding Zwift I’m also using my hands to control things like interactions on the phone, though that was on the console in front of me – and those first 8 minutes I was mostly playing catch-up because I had jumped on a bit late for the race start and skipped a warm-up.


On the bright side, at least the Forerunner 45 did well there – which shares the exact same optical HR sensor package as the FR945 does. Goes to show that simply which wrist you’re wearing it on can make a difference. Both were tightened the same.

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 products. 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.

Of course, you can still just have bad-day moments like my ride yesterday with the FR945. Win some, lose some.

Product Comparison Tool:

I’ve added the Forerunner 945 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 V, and Suunto 9, as well as the Fenix 5 Plus.  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 being able to calibrate altitude based on the map DEM data), doesn’t really fit well into product comparison tools designed to host hundreds of watches (when only a single watch has it).

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 7th, 2019 @ 1:52 pmNew Window
Price$599/599EUR$499$699/699EUR$499$599 (non-baro is $499)
Product Announcement DateApr 30th, 2019Mar 29th, 2017June 17th, 2018Sept 13th, 2018June 5th, 2018
Actual Availability/Shipping DateEarly May 2019Mar 29th, 2017June 17th, 2018Late October 2018June 26th, 2018
GPS Recording FunctionalityYes (with Galileo too)YesYes (with Galileo too)YesYes
Data TransferUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiUSB, BLUETOOTH SMARTUSB & Bluetooth Smart
WaterproofingYes - 50mYes - 50mYes - 100mYes - 30mYes - 100m
Battery Life (GPS)36hrs GPS, 60hrs UltraTracUp to 24hrs in GPS-on, up to 50hrs in UltraTrac GPSUp to 32hrs in GPS-on, up to 85hrs in UltraTrac GPS (varies by model)Up to 40 hoursUp to 120 Hours
Recording Interval1S or Smart1S or Smart1S or Smart1sVariable
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYesYesYesYesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYEsYesYEsNoNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesYesYesYesYes
MusicGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Can control phone musicYesYEsYesNoNo
Has music storage and playbackYesNoYesNoNo
Streaming ServicesiHeartRadio, Spotify, DeezerNoiHeartRadio, Spotify, DeezerNoNo
PaymentsGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Contactless-NFC PaymentsYesNoYesNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
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)YesYesYesNoNo
Group trackingYesYesYesNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)Yes (via phone)NoNoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesYEsYesYesYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesYesYesYesYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFYesYEsYesNoNo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYEsYesYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceYesYesYesTBD Future UpdateNo
Crash detectionYesNoNoNoNo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Designed for runningYesYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYEsYesYesYes
Running PowerWith extra sensorWITH RD POD, HRM-TRI OR HRM-RUN (or 3rd party Stryd/RunScribe)With extra sensoryes (built-in)With extra sensor
VO2Max EstimationYEsYesYEsYesYes
Race PredictorYesYesYesNoNo
Recovery AdvisorYesYEsYesYesYes
Run/Walk ModeYesYesYesNoNo
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Designed for swimmingYesYEsYesYesYes
Openwater swimming modeYEsYesYEsYesYes
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesYesYesYesYes
Record HR underwaterWITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (Not with optical HR)WITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (Not with optical HR)WITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (Not with optical HR)YesYes
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesYesYesYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YEsYesYEsYesYes
Indoor Drill ModeYesYesYesNoNo
Indoor auto-pause featureNo (it'll show rest time afterwards though)No (it'll show rest time afterwards though)No (it'll show rest time afterwards though)YesNo
Change pool sizeYEsYEsYEsYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths17M/18Y TO 150Y/M17M/18Y TO 150M/Y17M/18Y TO 150Y/M20M/Y to 250 m/y15m/y to 1,200m/y
Ability to customize data fieldsYesYesYesYesyes
Can change yards to metersYesYEsYesYesYes
Captures per length data - indoorsYesYesYesYesYes
Indoor AlertsYesYesYesN/ANo
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Designed for triathlonYesYesYesYesYes
Multisport modeYesYesYesYesYes
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesYesYesNo
On-unit interval FeatureYEsYEsYEsNoYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYesYesYesYes
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Auto Start/StopYesYEsYesNo
Virtual Partner FeatureYEsYEsYEsNo (but can give out of zone alerts)No
Virtual Racer FeatureYesYesYesNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYEsYesNoNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataYesYesYesNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)YesYesYesNoNo
GeocachingVia GPS coordinatesVia GPS coordinatesVia GPS coordinatesNoNo
Weather Display (live data)YesYesYesNoNo
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYesYesNoYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYEsYesNoYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)YesNoYesNoNo
Back to startYesYesYesFeb 2019Yes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationYesNoYesNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitYesYesYesNoYes
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometricBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeMagneticMagneticMagneticN/AMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesYesYesYesYes
Pulse Oximetry (aka Pulse Ox)YesNoFenix 5X Plus onlyNoNo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlYesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationYesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNo (can control VIRB though)No (can control VIRB though)No (can control VIRB though)NoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)YesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)YesYEsYesNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingYesYEsYesNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableYesYesYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableYesYEsYesYesYEs
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableYesYEsYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableYEsYEsYEsYesYes
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYEsYesYesYes
Temp Recording (external sensor)YesYesYesNoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsYesYEsYesN/A-
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressPolar Flowsync - Windows/MacPC/Mac
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectPolar FlowSuunto Movescount
Phone AppiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/AndroidiOS /Android
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)LinkLinkLinkN/A
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 935Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

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



There’s pretty much no question the Forerunner 945 will be my mainstay watch going forward. I’ve previously used the Forerunner 935 as my main running/tri watch, though I switched for a period last fall to the Fenix 5 Plus. However eventually I fell off that bandwagon (primarily because I couldn’t find the darn thing at some point in December) – and ended up back on the FR935 again.  I’m finding myself actually liking the training load focus bits more than any other metric Garmin has stuffed into their watches previously. It’s easy to understand and color-coded with clear targets. I’m all about simplicity.

Of course, there is the reality that somehow this watch is now $599 – some $100 more than the Forerunner 935 was/is. Sure, it’s added a boatload of new features, primarily the maps/music/contactless payments. But still, ouch. Of course – it’s hard to reasonably argue with the factual reality that people are buying these watches more than ever before – the Fenix 5 series is concrete proof of that (and that costs $699+). Even Apple’s more recent watches have increased in price over previous editions. I’m not sure if the trend is long-term sustainable, but I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

The new GPS sensor is kinda meh. While I get that it provides significantly longer battery life, there is the tradeoff for less accuracy. It’s not as bad as some of their competitors using the same sensor – but it’s also not as good as the FR935 was. I’ve no doubt it will improve (I’ve seen notable improvements even in the last 4-6 weeks), and I’m not getting any ‘horrid’ tracks’. Just some tracks that are kinda…well…shrug.

Ultimately though, the Forerunner 945 is the most full-featured triathlon watch on the market today (even topping the Fenix 5 Plus). Heck, one could also argue that since the Forerunner 945 has a quick release kit whereas the $1,500 Garmin MARQ Athlete doesn’t, it’s more full-featured than that. Whether or not you need those features is an entirely different discussion – one primarily between you and your accountant. 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 945 (select drop-down for triathlon bundle)
Garmin Forerunner 945 (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)
Garmin HRM-TRI (triathlon-focused swim strap – review here)
Garmin HRM-SWIM (indoor-swimming focused swim strap – review here)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the Forerunner 945 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.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

 Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture



  1. gingerneil

    first !! hahahaahah! 🙂

  2. Steve M Martin

    Been looking forward to this review

  3. nice job

    do you know what the special Vector 3 support is? or the live event sharing?

    • Not aware of anything special for Vector 3. Live Sharing is…complicated. It’s not at launch, but essentially it’s fully text based (and thus, Android only at launch, when it launches) but it’ll text your defined friends/family at specific splits – such as at a mile split, with your location. Designed for races where friends/family are tracking you either in person or from afar.

    • I guess this is one area where they can do so much more over time. the vector 3 comment refers to the garmin.com specs which show “Advanced Vector Support” that the 935 and MARQ don’t have. I’d assumed it was the PCO-type stuff.

      Also might be worth circling back to garmin and see if they have the new SONY firmware that supports SBAS. Polar installed it yesterday as i think you already know.

    • Soap

      Has any Garmin wearable supported SBAS in the past? WAAS support in North America is a killer feature and really low hanging fruit WRT GNSS accuracy. Almost all the accuracy benefits of a dual-frequency Galileo solution w/o the power consumption!

      Also, the5krunner, I’m stuck in captcha hell on your blog. I can’t submit a comment, it tells me incorrect captcha on all browers and while I have bad vision it’s not that bad!

    • the5krunner (tfk)

      case sensitive + made some changes . hopefully ok

    • Has any Garmin wearable supported SBAS in the past?
      Fenix 3 packaging had WAAS/EGNOS logos on it, so, yes.
      As far as dual band goes, matches it for atmospheric compensation but not for multipath as I understand it (Galileo’s higher chipping rate on the second band is the key there)

  4. Todd

    Not sure if it’s your link or the CT site, but it’s only showing the bundle.

    Great review!

  5. Andrew

    I was going to pre-order to replace a fenix 3 with a battery that can’t hold a charge anymore, but the price is now within $50 of a fenix 5 plus. Will the fenix get the first beat features the 945 has? Also any chance of a size comparison between this, and precious Fenixes?

  6. Ray, the comparison tool is showing the 935, not the 945!

  7. Craig

    Thanks Ray! Great Review

    The 945 doesn’t seem to be showing in the product comparison tool for me. Also in the GPS accuracy section you say ” For example, I try not to 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).”

    Do you mean 945 there?

    • It’s funny, I had notes at the top of my review to myself to triple-check that I didn’t make FR935 vs FR945 typos. I must have checked it half a dozen times. Win some…lost some. Thanks!

  8. Ernstig

    Thanks for the review!

    Small comment: The Product Comparison Tool shows the FR935 instead of the FR945

  9. Klippert

    Hi Ray!

    Once again – A superb review. Thanks!

    BUT… I sure don’t like the part where you write that the new training load metrics aren’t going to trickle down to the Fenix 5 Plus lineup. Was really looking forward to that :S

    I hope the ‘No’ from Garmin is just the start of the sentence ”No…t at the moment, but eventually it might” 🙂

    Have a nice day!



  10. fitz

    Shame they’re not going to include any of the new training features in the Fenix line, I assume they’re perfectly capable of doing that from a hardware/software standpoint (of course, barring the SpO2 metrics)

    • Ryan

      Agreed. I bought the Fenix 5 plus only 4 weeks ago. It would be a real pity if they leave buyers like me behind. I’m certain that most of the features are software based. I would expect Garmin to keep the Fenix model relevant for a couple of years at least.

  11. I might have missed it, but where is it getting the respiration rate data from? I thought you said from a chest strap but I didn’t think any of the Garmin bands support that?

    If it’s from the band e.g. hmr-tri then do we expect this to site up in a firmware update for the 935?

    • I’ve tried it successfully with the HRM-DUAL without issue. It’s also in the Edge 530/830 as well as MARQ. Garmin just specifies a chest strap, but obviously there’s some elements they’re looking for there. I’ll get clarity.

    • Andre

      Respiration data is probably coming from the heart rate variablility data (RR-intervals) the chest strap measures, as respiration is a major source of RR variability.

    • I found a comment here (link to garmin.com) that using the Firstbeat method they can work it out from the HR variability which is cool.

      Give the 935 can do HR variability tracking there is probably not a technical reason it couldn’t do it, just have to cross my fingers for it to fall into an upcoming firmware update.

    • Soap

      Ben, I’m not aware of a Firstbeat metric ever being backported. Since they are licensed features that would mean Garmin would need to pay in order to add a feature to an already sold device…

    • Dmitry Pupkov

      As far as I remember, Suunto 9 could do RR as well. What is actual use of this data?

  12. Alex

    Ray, thanks for another great review.

    You mentioned that size is the same as 935, is the weight also the same?
    What about the screen? Any improvements in color, brightness, back light?

    Despite those questions, I will go for it, to replace my trusted 735XT.

    • Vinny

      What’s making you pull the trigger to upgrade from the 735? I also have one and I’m not sure…barometric altimeter is nice, garmin pay is cool I guess, better 24/7 optical HR… Not sure that justifies $599.

      Garmin- I know the challenges of working with cell providers, but I’d (somewhat) happily pay $999 if I could get cellular service on one…just for live tracking and emergencies.

      Lastly-thanks for the usual great reviews, Ray…lots of reading to do today.

    • Alex

      Vinny – Well, frankly, every two years I have an urgent need for a new toy to play with the new features 😉 so I am already a year late ;-)))

      Initially I didn’t upgrade to 935 as my 735XT was only a year old, later neither Fenix 5 nor Fenix 5 Plus fit me well, primarily due to weight of the watch (far too heavy for running).

      945 seems like a good workhorse for workouts with a ton of features to play with.

    • Alex,

      The 945 is .2 mm thinner and one gram heavier. Probably not much of a noticeable difference on either front to be honest.

      The screen size is the same and still has a MIP color screen. We kept this the same to make sure the screen is visible in indoor and outdoor conditions.

    • Peter G

      Hi Garmin Blake, can you say something about whther the safety features (crash and fall detection) will be comming to other garmins?

    • sabeard

      The safety features have rolled out to the FR645/645m, VA3M, and the F5plus quitely in the last round of FW updates for each device.

    • Peter G

      Thank you sabeard I hoped the forerunenr 935 would be included.

    • ESax

      I just got the 945 today from a running shop in Altanta. Absolutely no difference in look, feel, or anything else tangible. Just the slight diff in color like he said today.

  13. Tomasz

    Ray, any comments about the OWS capability of the new GPS chipset?

    • I had hoped to swim yesterday with it, but ran tight on time. Probably tomorrow or Thursday at worst. I’ve done swimming with the MARQ though, which shares the same…well…everything – and that’s actually looking good.

  14. Florin

    thank you for review,
    do you know what features from 945 will be added on Fenix 5 Plus series?

    • I asked about specific features, and none were going to make it to the Fenix 5 Plus series. Though, I did see something the other day about the safety features coming to certain watches, I can’t remember off the top of my sleep-less head which watches they were.

    • Florin

      Thank you.
      Fenix 5S Plus received the safety feature. I will stick with this watch for a long period of time, just disappointed of how Garmin is acting with feature updates for old models, even if they have the hardware capability to upgrade some things.

    • piotr

      as a mountaneer and user of fenix5X plus which was advertised as dedicated to mountain actvities due to pulseOx serving for acclimatisation originally , I would be dissapointed not to see these recent tweaks re. acclimatisation included in an update of fenix…
      when you buy the most high-end product (at the time) you expect it to be updated at least to match cheaper units…
      thanks for great job as always!

  15. Simon Taylor

    If Europe is generally ahead of North America with Garmin Pay then it must be pretty close to useless in the US. Garmin heavily markets the Pay feature in Germany but the bank support is actually pitiful. Just three unheard of Mastercard providers.

    • Ian Marchant

      Similarly limited range in the UK

    • Thomas

      It’s the same in the UK. I set up an account with an app-only bank (Starling) and loaded the card up with some money. I only use that account for the garmin. This works pretty well but it is still disappointing that not many major banks/card providers are on board.

    • Simon,

      We understand the frustration caused by not being able to add a card to Garmin Pay and we are constantly working to add more banks. This isn’t something that we control entirely as banks must also agree to come on board this service.

      For information on what banks/cards are compatible in each region, please visit the link below.

      link to garmin.com

    • Dmitry Pupkov

      Kinda interesting. In Russia they support around 30 banks (yes, thirty banks support Garmin Pay). Almost every single major bank here supports Garmin Pay, despite of fact that Russia is definitely not a major market for Garmin.

  16. Robert

    Ray, thanks for this review!

    I would be very much interested in your point of view on the current pace readings of the different watches.

    Background: I had my troubles with the Vantage V, especially the less then acceptable accuracy of the GPS (see my comment on your VV review, I did return the watch).
    I could tolerate some error in the total distance, as this is mostly nice to have information after the training. Some times the total distance is not interesting at all, as I do know the length of my routine workout tracks. The current pace however is a figure, I would like to control my workout with. This is doable with the V800 and GPS, provided you give the reading a few 100m to settle after pace or direction changes. The V800 and the Polar foot pod gives instant readings and works as a charm. The VV on GPS just fails miserably, using it together with the foot pod it just depends on your daily luck, as the VV automatically calibrates the pod readings on GPS, but doesn’t give me the option to manually set the calibration factors.

    Unfortunately, the DC Analyzer data sets of 945 and VV do not show the VV pace or speed readings.

    Thanks, Robert

  17. Krzysztof

    Can you comment on real-life battery life?
    Interesting that GPS would extend by 50% (24 to 36h) when Ultra-trac only gives 20% extension (50 to 60h).

    • I’d speculate that’s because the GPS draw is so low now compared with all the other battery drains in operation – sensors, ANT+, calculations and writing data to memory – that ultratrac is getting close to the same battery life you’d see for treadmill running with no GPS at all, because the average GPS draw when it’s off most of the time is much less than the rest of the processing.

  18. Andre

    Do you know how many ConnectIQ datafields can be used? Is it still 2 like for the FR935?

    • RunninMatt

      Yes, this is essential. With things like Garmin running power being provided via a ConnectIQ app this limitation is really starting to hurt. I love the fact that I can add 10 data ConnectIQ apps on my Edge 1030.

      Interestingly enough my Wife’s FR735XT has always support 3 Connect IQ apps, the processor and memory in the FR945 must be more advanced than this

    • Tim Grose

      Still 2 yes.

  19. Hermann

    Did you notice any dropouts with (bike) power meters?
    I’ve currently a F5 (non plus), my wife a F5s and I’m (we are) so annoyed… the dropouts in some cases are up to 40 watts lower than with an Edge or Zwift (average at an one hour ride). So, I’m still looking for a new watch for Run/Ride, maybe Swimming. Do you recommend the 945 in this case?

    The be honest, we started sports again at the end of 2017 – after a few years recovery, because of being parents. 😉 My last watch was a Polar RS400, which was with me for a very long time. At that point (2017), I never thought that, I’d ride so much, I never thought, I’d ever own a PM.

  20. Ray

    I am getting really disappointed in the swim hr… Training peaks still doesn’t support the data and they don’t have any short term plans to add. Not sure how many of these Garmin sells but besides the value of increasing my dork factor at the pool the data basically goes into a hole… If Garmin wants to sell more if then maybe they should pay training peaks as when my current one breaks (it will soon) I doubt I will replace it

    • Yeah, I don’t really understand why it’s so hard to companies to support the .FIT file standard portion that handles it. Heck, we even support it in the DCR Analyzer.

    • Hermann

      Or try Today’s Plan.

      TrainingPeaks seems like to be Apple of sports. They say, we (athletes) don’t need that, they don’t give it to us.

      The only crappy thing about Today’s Plan is the workout builder. But they still working on that. I also saw a lot of improvements in the last few months.
      (but I don’t know a better WO-Builder that TrainingPeaks)

  21. Joe

    Hi Ray,

    thx for this review. A question to the Vantage firmware involved in this test: was this a beta/final version of the actual firmware (3.2.10) or still the 3.1.7
    Polar made (as they say) a lot of improvement to their GPS code. Will there be a comparison of their new firmware compared to the FR945 and maybe Suunto 9 ? I like to buy one of these three, but I’m not sure which…

    p.s.: cannot check the “Notify me…” box in Safari/OSX…

    • It was the production version. So not accounting for yesterday afternoon’s Vantage V update (though honestly, if my twitter inbox is any indication – things aren’t awesome on that update somehow).

  22. Mario

    Dear Ray, the Garmin Forerunner 945 also has no dual frequency gnss chip, right? Why not, this technology is so much more accurate!

    • Correct, single frequency. I chatted with Garmin about this while in Kansas earlier this month. They’re aware of the potential gains, but the challenge is mainly power draw right now. It would erase any power/battery gains made. At present there’s no consumer wearable in the world with it.

      They didn’t say no down the road, and they specifically noted the value of it, but simply that at this point it just doesn’t make sense.

    • Marek

      I don’t understand this. Does the dual channel readout need to be on all the time? Why not to have Ultra-Fine GPS mode, which would be dual channel with faster battery drain when you want it. For example, set only running to be dual channel etc. This would be a nice solution. I think they simply need something to bring to the next line of watches like Fenix 6, to have people buying a new $800 watch .. and I kind of understand this. Maybe the technology is not there yet.

    • Mirko Surf&Run

      If Sony releases a similar GNSS chipset with dual frequency, we can speculate that this new chipset has double power consumption of the current Sony Gnss single frequency chipset (because it has to track two frequency instead than only one frequency). So we can speculate that in a future Fenix 6 with dual frequency technology battery life with only GPS without music would be about the half, so from 36 hours to about 15 hours. Not bad, I think that at this point it does make sense. The problem now is just to wait that:
      a) Sony produces a dual frequency chipset with the same technology of the current chipset (at the moment it seems that Sony has only one frequency, also for his phone)
      b) Garmin begins to use this chipset once available
      Probably we have to wait that dual frequency chipset become the standard in phone. At this point their price would go down and the brands will begin to use it also in wearables. In short, probably other two-three years (I hope to be wrong).

    • Mario

      Music loses more battery life than dual frequency GNSS. What is more important for athletes, music or GNSS accuracy ?!

  23. joub

    I’m not sure I understand the logic: No improvement in the GPS accuracy, we know that optical sensor for HR could be really bad especially durin biking, and we pay 100$ more for that watch?
    Even with the boatload of analysis algorythms, and some unuseful features for a usual triathlete (like Garmin Pay and other stuff that only elite athletes use) I don’t see the point: Garbage in, garbage out.
    Probably better to find a 935 at discounted price…

    • Tim Grose

      I read the GPS accuracy section as nothing much to see here – works plenty well enough etc etc

    • Dmitry Pupkov

      Joub, to each their own. For me as an ultratrail runner selling points are ClimpbPro and much better battery. Additional (less signifcant) benefits are proper maps and Garmin Pay.

  24. Stuart

    Pricing in Australia is $AU950, compared with $AU700 for the 935. Seriously? Okay, sure, there’s a few good things in there, but I’d be very hard pressed to justify an extra $AU250 for those features if I were buying a new watch…

    • Ben

      Agreed, I’m often tempted to upgrade when the new model comes out, but I think I’ll be sticking with my trusty two year old 935. There are a few nice features over the 935 but not enough to justify at that price.

    • Duncan Tindall

      Ha, well give the New Zealand support is the same as Aus then ‘d love to know why it’s $1,299NZD (converts to $1,225AUD or $863USD). wonder if Garmin ships to NZ with a free tub of Vaseline….

      Given my 935 has just died after 15 months (barometer and the cracked optical flaw) I am not particularly in love with Garmin at the moment. On one had, their features are spot on, and when working then they are the gold standard for me. But reliability wise – no matter how good it s then when it’s in the post to/from support then it’s doing me no good at all.

    • Steve

      Its the price we pay for wage increases and improved economic conditions in the US and stagflation down under.

      Also we are seeing tech manufactures setting aspirational pricing at launch to both test the market and to manage potential supply chain/bug issues early on. Enough units in the wild to generate data but not too much to cause a twitter storm. It’s also easy to lower a price but almost impossible to increase a price without alienating your customer base. My 2c

      I’ll keep my 935 for now. Unless I see a good deal at the Christmas sales.

    • Ray

      The price differential to me is a huge issue here in Australia ($699 for the base 935 vs $949 for the 945). I’ve been eagerly anticipating the 935 replacement and was ready to lay my money down, but the $250 increase is making me look elsewhere – there’s just not enough different to justify that price change. Particularly given the 935 has been getting discounted to around $400 for months and months (presumably with Garmin’s backing). This makes resale value pitiful – I’m usually able to do it for $2-300, but in this case it’s going to be $700+.

      They just seem to have completely missed the price point here, putting it in the range of the metal Fenix units. Will sit and wait and see what the market dictates – I’m predicting the street price will drop quickly and dramatically once the units sit on the shelves.

  25. Michael Coyne

    Thanks for the review Ray!

    How’s the open water swim accuracy? And will they come out with a version that has cellular?

    I’m excited that it has music and payments, but if it doesn’t have cellular I still have to drag my phone along (and since my phone is a Samsung, I can pay for stuff EVERYWHERE since it has MST AND NFC).

    I’m also excited it has fall detection stuff, but I assume the phone is required? Either way I’d love to see you (safely) test that and show us how it works, and whether it only works for bike crashes or also for normal falling and stuff.

    The altitude acclimation also seems cool but idk if that’s reliable/worth it. Neat that they’re trying though.

    Tbh in a lot of ways though idgaf about them adding more battery life. My FR 935 was fine there. I feel like anyone who needs more is such an ultra-marathoner that they will have to charge ANY device on the go no matter what. (Speaking of, does it still use the same slightly annoying cable placement?)

    I would much rather see them pursue Apple’s amazing open water swim GPS tracks than better GPS battery life. I’m sure I’m not alone there. Between Apple’s GPS battery life being not-quite where I want it and me having an android right now, I’m not quite on an Apple watch yet. Also while I like the “smart” features on it, those aren’t enough to pull me to the dark side.

    What really had me start looking at them seriously was hearing from you how the Apple watch kicks the crap out of Garmin for open water swim accuracy and OHR accuracy.

    I feel like those are way more important to Garmin’s image and customers than the other do-dads. I’m really jealous of swim tracks that don’t meander from a football field one way, to a football field the other way, to swimming through the sand occasionally, and I feel like Garmin should do everything they can to be the masters of that once again. Maybe they already are, but I’m definitely confused by their effort to increase GPS battery life (where they’re already clearly a King), potentially at the cost of not improving open-water accuracy (where they’ve clearly slipped off the pedestal).

    Thanks again for the review! Looking forward to more on it!

  26. afa

    Hi Ray, slightly offtopic, but you mentioned it the review.

    I’m in dire need of new HRM. My garmin hrm4 is almost dead (battery change didn’t help, getting 200+ bpm readings). I was waiting for this announcement hopping for new hrm-tri similar to new sensors with edge 530.

    I’m triathlete so should I just buy current hrm-tri or hrm-run since you mentioned it’s not coming this season or buy something else? I prefer chest straps since I’m familiar with them, but open to suggestion.


    • Tim Grose

      HRM-Tri works fine for me. If you “need” a HRM then as good a choice as any. Would work well with a 945 too.

  27. DLinLV

    Great review, Ray, thank you. I ordered via Amazon on Saturday morning and hope the 945 cures some of my connection issues with the Humon Hex. Fenix 5X+ has dropout issues that are not reproducible, but annoying enough to replace it with the 945.

  28. Rezart Mersini

    Thanks for the great detailed review. Question, if you had the money to buy the Forerunner 945 or Garmin Fenix buy? I do exercise, not competitive, but go to the gym 3x week, 1x bike ride/week and 2x swims per week,(indoor pool). I love how the Fenix looks, rugged, is the forerunner similar or not even close?

  29. Kim

    Thx for a great review 🙂

    I think you have FR935 in the Product Comparison tool in the first column instead of FR945 data?

  30. dupineic


    no test with the altimeter ??

    On my 935, this is a mess !! no accuracy, no stability, the start point il never at the same level than the end stop … (when i start/stop from the same place)

    • There’s tests, I just didn’t have the time to do the analysis bits in the text above. You can see them in any of the links, and I’ll add some mountain ones in a bit later today. Cheers!

  31. Eli

    Should this:
    But if you’re into kinky user interface menus…

    But if your kink is user interface menus…

  32. edwin chen

    Great review as usual but i still have some questions and a comment:

    I wonder how the new gps sensor works on open water swims. Would the use of gps+glonass on the 945 end up using more battery than the 935 with just gps?

    Does the addition of music also imply voice feedback (for lap stats) will now come from the watch if one if listening to music?

    For the accident detection i guess it requires the use of the phone, right?

    This sentence needs an update: “Again, Garmin has noted that they’ve spent the majority of their time on GPS+GLONASS, and not yet focused very much accuracy efforts in GPS+GLONASS.”

  33. Adam Collins

    Any idea if they have fixed the dodgy resin that flakes off contantly on the optical HRM sensor? I am currently on my 3rd 935…

    While I know it doesn’t affect HR results (apparently), it does affect resale value, and just should not happen. never had an issue with my 235!

    • Catalin


      Me also I wonder the same thing: my Forerunner 935 had to have scratches on HR sensor after 1 year of usage, and no response from Garmin Support yet.

      Maybe Garmin has changed the provider of the HR sensor at least for 945.

  34. Jakob

    Hi Ray,
    thanks for always having the best up to date resource for the sports tech I care about.

    I have a wish for your watch comparison matrix, if any watch at all has this functionality:
    Possibility to upload activities directly to smartphone. (As opposed to using the phone as a tool to upload fit-files directly to garmin – then download the fit file again)

    I used to enjoy this feature on my old 910xt whenever I was exercising in a country where my SIM card wouldn’t necessarily have a data plan.

    Having a local copy of my fit files also made it possible to browse past activities while offline (using a 3rd party fit-viewer)

    It looks like this was just possible with ANT+ transfers, and I haven’t been able to figure out how to do this on my 920xt – if anyone else in the comments has a solution I am happy to take your recommendations


    • It’s possible to connect current Garmin watches to smartphones using an OTG USB cable and it should show up as a mass storage device. (Similar to plugging a USB flash drive into a computer.) But it depends on your phone and phone’s OS. They all work slightly differently so YMMV.

  35. The Real Bob

    I would have bought this today to replace my 935 if they would have just done two things. Get rid of that ugly black bezel and expand the screen to the edge. Increase the smart watch mode battery life.

    I seem like I am the only person in the world that wants longer time between charges, and I would take that over features.

    Anyways, great review. Although, I would recommend having a separate section on battery. But maybe that is only important to me.

  36. Karla

    Thank you for the great review. I have a question regarding size. I have difficulty getting a good fit with the 5s plus because of my small wrist. Did your wife find the size of the 945 to be quite large?

    • Karla,

      I know Ray has some awesome photos in previous reviews that show the sizes of the entire fenix 5 Plus lineup. This may help you when judging size since the 945 will be closer to the fenix 5 Plus than the 5S. The footprint of the 5S measures 42mm x 42mm wheras the fenix 5 and 945 measure 47mm x 47mm. This doesn’t account for thickness where each is different.

      I hope that’s at least a little helpful.

    • RTellis

      My 2 cents as a fellow small wristed person (~170mm) who has both a Fenix 5+ and 5S+.
      While the F5S+ has a smaller case the strap lugs stick well out from the body which makes it effectively larger than the 42mm would suggest. And while it’s okay for me it’s not nearly as comfortable as my 645 which has the same case size as the F5S+ because the strap lugs are much closer to the body of the watch.

      For normal wear the F5+ works just fine for me but it I don’t get it tight enough the weight causes it to bounce around a lot and it beats my wrist bone to death. While the case size of the 945 is similar to the F5+ the strap lugs look to be much closer to the body of the watch and it is also much lighter so I think the 945 will work pretty well for us small wristed people.

    • Karla

      Thank you, I couldn’t quite put my finger on the odd fit! Re: F5S+ has a smaller case the strap lugs stick well out from the body. I came from wearing the VA3 and I agree, its not comfortable and I don’t feel like I get a secure fit (wrist ~ 155mm). My heart rate seems to be really off during activities and the only thing I can attribute to this is the fit.

    • Kirsty

      Thanks Karla for asking my question and Garmin-Blake and RTellis for the info!

      Both the F5S+ and 645 did not grip my wrist well (~145mm), but surprisingly the old Polar M360 worked really well. Might be something about way the M360 band is integrated into the watch face and the curvature of the band?

      The new 45S bands appear to be somewhat similarly curved (they bulge up instead of laying completely flat) and the watch face a smaller 39mm x 39mm, so that might be an option except it lacks so much of the functionality that I am after.

      I have no idea about how common/uncommon small wrists are, but I am a tall woman (5’11”) so would guess there would be quite a few of us.

      If anyone has small wrists and has had success finding a good triathlon watch I’d love to hear about it.

    • Marguerite

      Hi — I have very small wrists and have had the 5S and the 935. I ended up letting go of my 5S for exactly the reason RTellis mentions: it was so heavy that it would bounce or not stay flat on my wrist. The 935 is a larger face but muchhhhh more comfortable — I wear it night and day (to work, for all sports, to sleep, in shower, etc.) It is SO much lighter, and though the face is larger, it doesn’t bother me at all. I <3 it!

  37. Jessica

    Awesome review! Do you have a size comparison to the fenix 5s plus? I literally just purchased (and am waiting on) my 5s plus to arrive. But, hearing about the training stats really has me.

    Debating on whether I should jump over to a forerunner or if there are other reasons to just keep with the fenix (size + looks was my preference for the fenix, and my 3HR was always good to me).

    Mind, I’m switching back over from an apple watch, so the data in general for my sports is going to be immediately improved.

    • Jessica,

      I hope our response to Karla right above this is helpful for you in regards to sizing questions.

    • Jessica

      Thanks! I figured the size was comparable there, and I CAN wear a Fenix… it’s just clunky. It’s a shame that the Fenix won’t get the training status information, as this is the best part to me.

      So I’m trying to see if basically that one feature will be enough to take it over the Fenix.

  38. Great review as always, I have been tempted with the Fenix 5 Plus now that has dropped in price on Amazon ( £474.99) but with the Clevertraining coupon and extra functionality of the FR945 I might go with this instead.

  39. Richard Owen

    Thanks for the review, and especially the YouTube vid.

    I have been using the 935 for over two years now and it’s been a great watch. My only gripes with it have been open water swim accuracy (+/- 15 for the same course repeated multiple times), the busted barometer in the last few months, and HR accuracy on anything other than outdoor runs (bike rides are OK but it doesn’t handle sprints / climbs, indoor activities such as Gym / cardio are hopeless).

    I suppose it would be nice to have a higher resolution screen in this version but I wouldn’t want to sacrifice battery life so it’s not a trade that can be made I guess.

    Liking the new performance monitoring features, it’s going to be good to have something else to look at if my VO2Max only changes once a month. Maps would be useful on foreign trips too but my experience with creating courses on Garmin Connect for my Edge 130 has not left me impressed. Roads that don’t exist, intuitive mapping etc. Would be much easier to sync with RideWithGPS which is a superior route planning tool IMO.

    It’s not a massive upgrade but I can get a sneaky 20% discount on RRP soon through Vitality and my old unit can go on eBay!

    What’s next on Garmin’s development list for a future Fenix 6 and related watches? I guess a better screen and possibly cellular (waterproofing may be tricky), plus an improvement in ‘quality’ but I’m struggling to think of fitness benefits I need over my 935 to be honest.


  40. Janos

    Hey Ray! Thanks for the review.
    Do you know of any plans by Google to make Play Music available to Garmin devices?

  41. Fabio

    Maybe i’m the only one that still prefers the square look of 920xt.

  42. Paul Horsley

    Could I upload an american map if needed, say for a holiday, on a unit purchased in the UK and do you know if there would be a cost

    thanks great review

    • Tomasz

      If you go to the official FR945 website, you’ll find a tool for selecting additional maps for a given region, along with pricing.

    • Michael Chomiczewski

      Hio Tomasz.

      Can you pls share a link? I can’t find a way to narrow it down to maps suitable for just FR945. It seems all maps a mixed (e.g. car GPS maps seem to be listed link to buy.garmin.com ).

      Say I have US watch and wanted to load the same maps that would be shipped with a Europe-sold model. Which map(s) from this giant list would I be picking?

      link to buy.garmin.com

      Thank you,

    • Tomasz

      Technically, car maps should work on the 945, so it really boils down to what you want the map for.

      I am not sure if it’s possible to buy the exact map that is shipped with the watch for other regions.

      But honestly, if I were travelling to another region, I’d rather look for a free garmin-compatible map, for example here: link to garmin.openstreetmap.nl
      Most parts of the world are decently covered.

    • Jakob

      Bookmarking this link for the future, those official maps are just priced in a way I dont imagine many athletes see themselves paying for

    • Michael Chomiczewski

      Garmin-Blake – can you please chime in?

      At risk of giving more info that ppl care to read: I’m an American currently living in Europe. I spent most of my time in Germany but travel back to the US on a regular basis (and also tend to spend 2 weeks a year in Japan).

      Is it possible to buy a US watch and later buy EU maps such that the functionality is exactly the same in Europe as if I were to buy an EU watch?

      Conversely – can I buy EU watch and later buy US maps such that functionality is exactly the same in the US as if I were to buy a US watch?

      Finally – can I buy a third set of maps (Asia) and have the same functionality as if I were to buy the product in Japan?

      Garmin-Blake – would you be able to please point me to specific Garmin map packages I can buy from Garmin to achieve the above? Assuming it’s possible that is.

      I realize I can get free openstreet maps, but I would prefer to have all the functionality that comes with Garmin maps (unless I have to pay hundreds to get there).

      Thank you,

    • Paul

      Did you get a reply to the question regarding Japan maps?

      I don’t see an option to purchase Japan in the Asia section for maps; however, I travel between the US and Japan on a regular basis.

      How can I download colored Japan maps to my US Garmin?

  43. Jose Rodriguez

    All these new things are nice, but what´s the point of upgrade from the 935 to 945 if GPS accurancy is worse?

  44. Mehmet

    I didn’t like the design of the fenix 5 plus so I skipped that for the upcoming fenix.
    But they keep not releasing it.. Do you have a projection on the release date? should I wait more or go for this forerunner series, what do you think?

  45. Tomasz

    Interestingly, Garmin’s website shows the Garmin Charge Power Pack as a compatible accessory, but I don’t see how that would work.

    And what about Garmin Explore app compatibility? I assume it’s comming soon.

    • Florian

      You’ll use it just like you’d use a regular 20 USD power bank, by plugging in a cable. So only useful if you have a cycling computer and 945.

      From the Garmin website:
      “You can charge on the go by connecting the Garmin Charge power pack to any compatible fitness device with an additional cable — including wearables and other cycling computers. Just connect the power pack with a USB charging cable² so you can stay in the action and get the most out of your activities.”

  46. Piet

    Nice review, thanks for that.

    Is any of the new EDGE MTB features available on FR945? Like Grits and Flow, hang time?

  47. Janyne Kizer

    Thanks for the review! I am looking forward to seeing if the 945 has accurate open water swim GPS data.

  48. Ale

    Finally… Hope I can find a good price for the 935 now!
    A return to the square design would have been appealing for me, but basically same watch with not so big new feature and that PRICE, thanks but no thanks.

  49. Henrik Engert

    Which Polar Vantage firmware version did you use? There was a new version that came out yesterday with improvements to GPS performance.

  50. Stephen O'Reilly

    Hi Ray,

    Great review. Thanks.CT.co.uk link there does not appear to be a bundle option.


  51. Janyne Kizre

    How does the size of the 945 compare to the 935, 920XT, and th2 Fenix 5? I miss the rolling pin!

    • Peter G

      chack garmin-Balkes response above, not noticably theicker than the 935 (ame size in Dc-rainmakers video at the beginning).

    • Janyne,

      Karla had similar question above in post #71 that I tried to help answer. I hope it’s at least slightly helpful.

    • MattB

      I was also thinking this – did the rolling pin get left behind in Paris Ray? More pin pics please!

    • Dave Lusty

      The Girl stopped letting him borrow the rolling pin a while ago. She’s a meanie and still hasn’t even let him get a pizza oven! Poor guy puts in all this work too 😉

      +1 for rolling pin return. I have no idea how the 3 new watches differ in size!

  52. Ben

    Hi Ray,
    I have the Vivosmart 4 and the stress is often marked as “unmeasurable”.
    It happens a lot when cycling but also when standing still.
    And it affect the reliability of the body battery.
    Did you notice the same issue with the Forerunner 945 ?

  53. Jackson Cheng

    Hi Ray,

    I’m a Fenix 5 user, and one of the complaints I have with it is that I can’t send simple, even pre-cooked text replies to messages I receive. Is this a feature that has been added to the FR945, or another model more recent than the original Fenix 5?

    • Jackson,

      It sounds like you are likely an iOS user. Responding to text messages is something that’s only available on Android currently due to limitations between Android and iOS. These differences will affect all Garmin devices with the text response feature.

  54. Alexander Momberger

    Hello Ray,
    thank you for the awesome review. I do have the fenix 5 plus and I wonder if any of the new Features (Training-Focus, etc.) are comming to the fenix 5+ via a softwareupdate.
    Unfortunatelly my fenix 5+ has a battery issue and I will have to replace it. Shall I get the 945 instead? What do you think?

    Thank you!

  55. So as my wallet cannot afford the 945 and 530, could I use my Edge 520 Plus device as an extended display to view data screens from the 945 and utilise the faster processor on the 945 for routing, ClimbPro etc??

  56. gingerneil

    Great work getting these reviews out – impressive handling of a major workload!
    Question about music – aimed at anyone who can answer as I think this will be the same across garmin music watches.
    How do playlists for MP3s work when files are manually copied ? Does the watch create playlists based on folders and filenames, or do I need to create m3u (for example) playlist files ?
    I have quite a bit of music as mp3s and use itunes/ipod shuffle at the moment. Whilst I would love google play music integration, I could live with manually copying mp3s and podcasts via garmin express. But how to playlists work ?

  57. BossertDM

    How likely is a new 735xt update? Does Garmin usually have 2-3 wearable product launches over the course of a year? Or are these 3 new watches (45, 245, 945) all we should expect this year? (I do realize the MARQ watches were launched this year but think of those as more of a whole new product family rather than updating current models.)

  58. emiliano

    Hi Ray,

    what about a new 920xt square…like a Forerunner 945…??

    Best Regards,

  59. Ken

    Ray (or Garmin-Blake)
    I built a ‘Flight’ profile on my existing watch for when I fly (general aviation, not commercial). Since I can go up a couple of thousands of feet in a one hour flight how would this affect the altitude acclimation / recovery time metrics since it’s not really a workout as I’m literally just standing there? Can a custom profile be ignored by those calculations?

  60. Andreas

    Are there any news for triathlon transitions? I’m thinking about the text “Transition with ease” text found in the Garmin promo video: link to youtube.com

    • RTellis

      Total speculation on my part but I saw some comments in other forums over the last week talking about “automatic transitions.” If I had to guess this would be them using Move IQ algorithms to sense when you stop swimming, start and stop cycling, and starting to run.

  61. Ben Young

    Hi Ray,
    Great review, as usual. 👍🏼

    I have a question:
    Do you know what Advanced Vector Support entails.
    I see it listed under cycling features on Garmin’s own website but have know idea what it means or enables or whatever 🤷‍♂️
    I’d be interested to know. I’m in the market for a power meter and maybe this feature is something that’d make me lean towards the Vector pedal system.

    • JD

      If you own Vector pedals then the unit must display some version of this —
      link to www8.garmin.com

      You’re not going to monitor Vector data on your wrist while riding a bike. It’s more useful to view after a ride or while riding a trainer with an Edge model GPS display..

  62. GordonFreeman

    Is there any specifics regarding the glass? The Fenix 5/5+ exist in sapphire and non-sapphire versions, I’m not sure actually what it changes in terms of durability/readability/weight.
    I suppose this one has a similar glass as the non-saphhire Fenix?

    In any case it looks like this new watch makes it pretty difficult to justify buying the Fenix 5+ now… Which is a shame since the 5+ looks a tad better and has a smaller version than this (5s is 42mm vs 47mm for 945 and 5).

  63. Peter Hirsh

    Quickly scanned review and comments at work. Will look more closely later, but did review or any comments address question of whether the optical HR sensor can now broadcast over Bluetooth instead of just ANT+? Would be great to be able to get HR direct from watch in Zwift / TrainerRoad (I know there are work arounds).

    • Peter,

      The 945 will broadcast HR over ANT+ the same as the 935.

    • Simon Carney

      Garmin-Blake – apologies as I posted an almost identical question lower down. Is there a reason Garmin won’t allow Bluetooth broadcasting into Zwift / Fulgaz / any other iOS or Apple TV indoor cycling / activity programme? I have to buy a non-Garmin HR strap for this. Seems like a lost marketing opportunity as Zwift is moving away from PC/laptop (where you CAN use ANT+) onto Apple TV and iPad where you can’t anymore (old iPad ANT+ dongles no longer supported by Zwift).

  64. Nedim

    Question re: Altimeter.

    Does the altimeter use maps to calibrate like the latest Fenix devices with maps? That would be a major feature. The altimeter is basically always off depending on air pressure without either auto or manual calibration.

  65. redRover

    Again, Garmin has noted that they’ve spent the majority of their time on GPS+GLONASS, and not yet focused very much accuracy efforts in GPS+GLONASS.

    Pretty sure one of these is supposed to Gallileo? Hate to nit pick but it’s sort of unclear.

    • MattB

      From the 245 review it’s the Galileo bit they’ve not worked on much yet, but they are going to though the year.

  66. Nedim

    Question: Does it use the same charging cable like the 935/Fenix 5 series, or is it the new one like MARQ?

    I tried finding the answer, but did not see it.

  67. Obviously this supports structured workouts, but how does the interval screen look? I’m currently using a 920xt and the way the target pace displays on the interval screen (during the actual interval), it’s too small to be read clearly during a hard interval. I’m thinking it’s even harder to see with a round screen.

  68. Jose Parra

    Hi. Very comprehensive. So I have not been able to figure out if buying the chest strap for swimming will calculate my V02 Max with a 935. Does the 945 calculate V02 max for swimming?

    • Jose,

      The 945 does not offer VO2 Max for swimming.

    • Dave Lusty

      If you’re improving VO2 Max while swimming, you’re probably swimming wrong. HR while swimming should be used to ensure a LOW heart rate and LOW effort to achieve speed. Basically, for a given fitness you should work to reduce your HR at a given pace to improve swimming. Improving fitness will have a far lower impact than technique in swimming*. If your HR rises you’re probably not swimming efficiently and need to change technique. It’s like aero positions on a bike, but in a medium 1000x more dense than air in which you can’t breath (so being out of breath is incredibly bad!).

      *I will concede that Olympic class swimmers may benefit from different things but amateurs it’s all technique

  69. BJI

    Could you include a short comparison with the MARQ? Are there any exclusive features to either, beyond the large differences in construction?

  70. Dom

    Hey Ray,
    another great depth review!
    is there still a limitation for only 2 CIQ Datafields at the same time?

  71. Gordon

    I’d like to see you call out the fact that the training load metrics are directly tied to the quality of the data from the HR sensor. In the case of the 935 the training load metrics were utterly useless – the oHR would chop off peak intensities during hill repeats and intervals. Even on a recent 2x5k interval session the second 5k had half the HR value of the first 5k despite the effort being the same! I’m aware the 935 elevate sensor had it’s issues but if this watch has only improved marginally on that then there is still a great deal of work to be done. This is of course with the wrist placement optimised and much trial and error with placement. The Garmin forums were full of these issues but your original review didn’t really catch these running problems if I recall correctly. Cycling problems – yes (which incidentally also throw off all the training load metrics). I’m extremely doubtful that the 945 will be any better despite your findings here, but I remain hopeful.

    • Frank-enstein

      Probably a fair point — though assume 95% of athletes looking to utilize these very in depth Training Load metrics are also going to have invested in a real HR solution over time.

      At risk of stating the obvious here: Wrist HR is fine for daily tracking and sleep, but inadequate for runs/bikes. Whether the watch is $200 or $2,000, the sensor is still on the wrist.

  72. Quadranaut

    Hi Ray
    Just an error in your features comparison with 935, fenix5 and Polar.
    Garmin has waterproof rating for 945 at 5ATM (50metres) not 100metres.
    Great review again

  73. Drew

    Really wish they would go down the ECG/EKG route with a product, maybe in the future. But with what Withings is doing in that space, was hoping Garmin would jump on board.

    Could that be added via Firmware?

    • Andrew Tixerant

      Would love to see some news on Garmins ECG/EKG plans too.

    • Dave Lusty

      Specifically what are you asking for? The HR straps have used ECG for well over a decade your request is meaningless because every Garmin, Polar, Suunto watch ever has supported ECG (measuring heart data through electricity).

      Are you asking for a sub-second graph?

      Are you asking for electrical HR without a strap?

      Are you asking for abnormal heart condition detection?

      Are you asking for something else?

    • Drew

      Dave – Ha ha..excuse me. To elaborate a little more I am speaking more towards the statement “With what withings is doing in that space” in the aforementioned comment.

      I would like to see them take an approach towards detecting abnormal rhythms and reporting. It feels like a natural move for them and since Withings was offering this at CES this year (and Apple rolling this out as well) I was hoping this iteration of the 945 would have the same.

  74. Pawel

    I wonder why Garmin is not going to allow people to use OHR for swimming? Is the HRM business so important, that they want lock buyers in their garden? I would like to have a choice: use OHR with possible issues or use supported strap.
    I expected this feature will be available in current year devices (MARQ – waiting for detailed review, 945) or in next Fenix (6?).
    Polar and Suunto could provide this to market. Garmin what about you?

    • Tim Grose

      Imagine it is like the reply to the question below of do you need a strap for the LT test. Given that is a yes hard to see that OHR swimming, which assume is more challenging than running, is going to be much use.

  75. Dan

    Seems to me like some of the improvements aren’t all hardware dependent… What I’m trying to say is, can we expect a major software update for the FR 935 soon?

    • henau212

      see #41, none of the new features are trickling down into the older watches.. Kinda sucks. That is one thing for example Apple is doing a way better job at.

  76. Alberto

    Fenix 5X Plus has basically same hardware even if 1 gen older, so could afford all new FR945 features…

  77. Torbjørn

    Great review! As always. It’s like “God has spoken”, only much better.

    I wonder if the watch used the same processor as the Fenix 5 Plus family, or does has it been upgraded to increase the overall speed when you’re navigating maps etc.?

  78. Tyler

    Definitely off topic, but does anyone know if Garmin is planning any updates/replacement for the Varia RTL510 rear bike light/radar?

  79. Galland

    The watch looks interesting but I am more interested in a successor to the 735XT. Hopefully that is not a dead end device. The 735XT had everything you need in a good TRI watch but is 3 years old at this point and could use a tech refresh.

  80. Simon Brown

    Due to the size both physical and monetary……I’ll be waiting for the FR645 update.

  81. Yuriy

    Hi, do I need a strap to get Lactate threshold?

  82. Daniel Bailey

    I love the look of the blue, but it looks exactly like my Garmin Quatix 5(Fenix 5 + sailing/boating apps), that I paid $400 during Garmin’s Christmas sale in 2018. Well, the Quatix 5 has a nice stainless steel bezel instead of the black of the 945.

    I guess I’ll just keep the Quatix 5 and maybe, just maybe, try actually working out instead of looking for a new piece of technology to make me better 🙂

    • Working out is overrated.

    • Daniel Bailey

      So my workout buddy says the 945 has more features to help you be lazy…

      But if I don’t train, I don’t really need a fancy GPS-enabled Garmin timekeeping device

      It’s kind of hard to do an Ironman triathlon without a little bit of training though. (But I have done a half IM with less than 2 months of preparation…SMDH) 🙂


      You’ve lost that workout feeling, you’ve lost that workout feeling…

  83. todd

    On the 935 the screen is sort of inset which is perfect for adding a screen protector, is it the same on the 945? Also, I’m assuming since they are pretty much identical physically that the circumference of the screens are the same.

    • runner-33

      The Gorilla Glass of the FR945 should be good to use without a screen protector. For sure I have one on my plastic glass FR935…

    • herbivoor

      I just tried to apply a FR935 screenprotector to my FR945 and that didn’t work out… So your mileage may vary.

    • CJ

      The IQ Shield brand “Liquid Shield” screen protector for the Forerunner 935 is *slightly* smaller in diameter than the glass on the 935 – there’s about a millimeter around the perimeter uncovered. I’d wager it might fit the 945. (will know when mine arrives and I try it)

  84. Patrick

    Do you think FR 935 will be able to update to some of the new metrics the 945 has? Would love to have on board music though, so I might upgrade to the 945 anyway.

  85. Scott

    What are your thoughts on the run-off effect on the price of older Fenix 5s and 5 Plus’.

  86. Nathan

    New versions of devices are suppose to pack new features every year and the price is suppose to stay the same or cost slightly less! I like the new features but will not pay $600 for them.

    • Sean Parchem

      I like my 935. I don’t find a need for payments if why bank isn’t supporting it. The new 945 is pricey, so I’ll keep hold of my 935, which has never let me down. I would like my 935 to enable music though. I could Ditch my walkman……

  87. Paul Tomblin

    Does this mean they’re asking down 935s? I don’t need most of the new features on the 945.

  88. PR

    Does the 945 provide the smart hydration/nutrition alerts found in the Edge 530/830?

  89. Tim

    Hi Ray, thanks for the great review. Do you know if Audible is supported for the music part? Thanks

  90. Peter

    Hi Ray,

    thanks for the review. My main question is how do I best buy this thing, living in Germany. Will the garmin website be a fast way? Or can I somehow find out if any shop in my area has this?


  91. Greg

    Is there a hardware/technical reason Garmin cannot reduce the bezel sizes around the screen? I like so much about the feature set in the 935 and 945, but I dislike the appearance of the large bezels. The Fenix series hides it better with the decorative trim, but that’s a much heavier and more expensive watch. Every new update, I keep hoping they’ll shrink those appreciably, but I guess I have to keep waiting.


    Is the 945 compatible with the varia vision? official site compatibility list does not show it(does show radar). since the 935 is compatible I would be surprised if they removed a feature like this.

  93. Sølve Dahl

    Thanks for a great review, as always! Do you know the accuracy of pace & watt data generated by the watch?

    Would you use footpods with it, or is the watch accurate enough as it is?

  94. Gerardo Alatorre

    There are no better products review than here. Very objective, plenty of information, and partial as well. Congratulations on doing a great job!

  95. Bradley Olwin

    You mentioned the 945 is inReach compatible. I cannot find this on the Garmin website. Can you confirm this is correct and is it similar to the fenix5x/plus with the widget?

  96. Lyen

    Have you been able to compare the 945 vs the fenix 5 plus? My 5x+ has not been great from an accuracy standpoint. Had to return the first one because i was getting significantly less distance than others in my running group. The second unit has been ok but sometimes i get small sections of straight lines where it loses connection due to what I assume is the light pine tree coverage overhead. I’ve heard two different stories from Garmin, one that the amount of metal on the watch makes it naturally less accurate compared to a 935 or conflictingly that the gps antennae is on the bezel and should therefore be quite accurate.

    • Rob

      Just fyi: my Fenix 3 HR always shows about 300 meters less on official measurent 10 km road events, where my older Forerunner 310 XT was not more then 10 meters off on the same events.

      …notice my Fenix 3 HR cost 2x times the price of the Forerunnner 310 XT.

    • Lyen

      I should try a measured road race just to see. I’m mostly trail right now and I see a lot of variability with our group’s GPS distance.

    • Jumbo

      I have this question as well. I got rid of my Fenix 5x+ because the gps was comically inaccurate (I A/Bed it with the old 920xt). It was always adding weird little loops around corners, routing me a quarter mile into the woods, that sort of thing. Once it just decided that I was going steadily west at a 17 minute mile (I wasn’t). And satellite acquisition was bad too. Sometimes it took 5 minutes. I’ll totally get a 945 if it’s better than the Fenix in those ways.

  97. Just a quick heads up for folks, for those waiting for that user interface/menu walk-through video (the one I promised would probably be boring, unless you were into that kinda thing, it’s available now:

    link to youtu.be

    Note that YouTube is still processing it up to 1080p and then 4K. I suspect that’ll happen any moment now, so it might be best to click on it in 10-15 minutes and see if it allows the higher resolution then, so you can watch in all it’s glory. Friends don’t let friends watch in 360p.


  98. Tom

    I’m sitting here struggling to write a dissertation for like two years with no headway, and I’m pretty sure you’ve written a dissertation-length set of reviews this week alone. We appreciate you, Ray!

  99. Phoner

    Ray, does 945 support calibrating altitude based on the map DEM data? Does altimeter use maps to calibrate like the latest Fenix devices with maps?

  100. H.W.

    Now the Forerunner lineup has been updated, is it likely to see a thorough fenix series update in the near future as well?

  101. Mike S.

    I always wanted the 935 but it never went on sale. So I eventually got the Fenix 5X when it was on sale $100 off plus an REI dividend. This was literally a few days before the Fenix 5 Plus was announced.

    Ever since Ray mentioned that heavier watches like the 5X bounce and give less accurate HRM, I’ve been wondering about getting a lighter watch.

    Does the 935 get regular upgrades like the Fenix line? Or does the Fenix line get upgraded first?

    Is a Fenix 6 around the corner that will have all the same features as the 945?

    • Richard Mercer

      It’s been my experience that neither the FR935 or Fenix get features/updates first. Sometimes the 935 gets it first, sometimes not, but there’s never been much time between them getting feature parity in terms of firmware.

    • Greg s

      Used to be Fenix team drove the software which trickled to 935. Bet it switches the other way now

  102. Phil

    How is the vibration? Quieter like the Fenix 5 Plus, or a little more rattley like the Forerunner 230/235?

  103. Joel G Rivera-Gonzalez

    Stupid question. Is anything been trickle down to the 935? It doesn’t look like all new features added are hardware dependent.

  104. Rz605

    Screen looks really clear compared to the fenix 5p. Have they improved it significantly in the 945?

  105. Niklaus Lang

    Hy Ray
    thank you for this excellent review!
    i have two little questions and maybe you answered this already. I saw this picture: link to media.dcrainmaker.com in your review and i wonder: what is your setup (gear, software, process) to get all your data out of zwift in to garmin connect… and most important is this data added to the trainingsload in connect?

    all the best from switzerland


    • RTellis

      All you have to do is link your Zwift and Garmin accounts and Zwift rides will show up in Connect. It will not contribute to your training load unfortunately but you do get Garmin kit to wear in game.

    • Niklaus

      Hy RTellis
      i made your propoesed links. but i wonder it it is possible to have the data in trainingsload this is the key question. i tested with garmin dual hrm with my Forerunner 935. but then i get double data…. one in trainingsload without the nice map and the hight… and the linked data…

    • RTellis

      If you record on your Garmin device while using Zwift and also link the two accounts then you will end up with 2 different activities in Connect. There’s really no way to get around that.

      Personally I don’t have my Zwift and Connect linked. I record on my head unit while I use Zwift but only the Garmin data gets saved to Connect that way it contributes to my training load without adding extra miles to my totals.

      I only have Zwift linked to Strava so that I have a map a photos shared on a sharing type site, but all of the real training data lives in my Garmin account.

    • Niklaus

      RTellis thx! I’ll do it like you in the future!

    • Janyne Kizer

      I think that the larger point is that in Garmin’s integration with Zwift is flawed.

  106. Thanks as always for a great review.

    Any info / thoughts on the difference in fitness feedback for cyclists with and without a power metres. It’s been a fairly big difference on previous devices. I have a power metre but prefer not to use it for mountain bike rides. Thx.

  107. Ilias Kapsomenakis

    Does the FR945 has the same limitation of 2 connect IQ field per activity as the FR935 ?

  108. Brian

    Ray- Since this watch doesn’t record HR data during swims, doesn’t that throw off all baked in Training Load metrics for frequent swimmers?

  109. Paul Tomblin

    Man I wish they’d put all these features in something with a bigger screen. I know as a kayaker I’m a tiny tiny tiny part of the market, but I’m seriously considering getting a Wahoo Element Bolt just so I can read 4 data fields with the device mounted down by my feet in the boat, but I don’t know if it’s waterproof enough.

    • Dave Lusty

      Forerunner on wrist and Edge 1030 on feet in extended display mode. BOOM problem solved. You could even epoxy an Edge mount to your boat to avoid using the foot strap. Even the Edge 130 would be an improvement on what you’re doing now as a display.

    • Paul Tomblin

      Awesome idea. Solves the reaching for my feet at the start gun problem too. Does the edge 830 have extended display mode?

    • Dave Lusty

      Yes, everything from 130 up has it and it seems to work flawlessly from my testing with the 130, 820, 1030. You can even leave the Edge running and it’ll display when the watch starts or comes into range. I wrote a bit of a post at link to gpsrumors.com about it if you’re interested, but the upshot is it works exactly as you’d hope it does and it’s worth the investment in a screen. From experience I’d say Edge 130 will work better for you because the screen will be more readable in a boat.

    • Dave Lusty

      Also I think your 920XT supports extended display so not a lot of investment to improve your life 🙂
      If you mount a GoPro where that logo is you could use link to kinovea.org to analyse your stroke too…

    • Paul Tomblin

      I’ve already got a GoPro at the front of my boat. See my youtube channel link to youtube.com

      I’ll definitely be checking out kinovea.org and your post on gpsrumors. Thanks.

    • Paul Tomblin

      Oh look at that, it looks like the 9.1 firmware update might have given my 920xt extended display!

  110. Magnus


    Been on this site from garmin 910 release, and bought 910, 920, fenix 5 and 520 after reading your reviews.

    Will physio trueup work between 945 and 530/830, specific the firstbeat analysis?

    I currently have Fenix 5 and a 520. I have physio trueup activated, so after a bike ride the activity syncs from the 520 to Fenix 5. I can see the ride both in my day and last activity. What I cant see on my Fenix 5 is recovery time (520 shows it after a run) and training status (guess thats because 520 does not support it).

    So if i buy the new 945 and 530/830 will the Firstbeat stuff be synchronised to both devices? No point in advanced training analysis if the two devices shows different results. I know I can use 945 for my bike rides, but I like bigger screen and more data fields on the edge.

  111. Peter Stone

    I sucks that the Fenix 5 don’t get the new features.

    Really, I do like them. As a F5X+ owner, I’d even switch over to the F945 – but I don’t because Garmin *might* also announce a Fenix 6 in the coming weeks, and that double spend would be too much even for me.

  112. Donna

    “Coworkers at a conference table can’t see your sexts”. – In the Basics section. PS-you’re welcome.

  113. Peter Stone

    Ray: Do you know what Bluetooth-version is used?

    I wish the industry would be shifting more quickly to 5.0….

  114. Nicholas Favill

    I haven’t read through this all properly but this is a case if diminishing returns. I have done 10 or so triathlon and so have an interest in Multisport devices and owned every iteration of garmin watches since the fenix 2, because I have a very fickle relationship with smart/fitness watches changing every 3 months or so. What I have learnt is that less is now more. I just sold my 5s plus which did so much the battery life was crap and have pocketed 100 quid and got a new 735xt,an edge 820 and a misfit vapor 2 for music. As a result battery life is great on all do them because they suit my needs when I need them. The edge gets me on new routes on the bike, the misfit phone free when I fancy a run like that, and the 735xt covering the bases elsewhere and beyond. For me the best news about this device is that it will bring the price of the 935 down and I’ll bag that instead. For me form and function should go hand in hand and since these look the same (garmin should have bumped up the screen size and minimised the bezels) and i think the quatix 5 ticks those boxes the most imo. Either way you could have 3 devices that cover music maps and GPS for much less than this at 599 US. The nfc barely works in the UK and I have my phone or cash 99% of the time.

    That said and counter to all that if you gave me one I’d take it off you (and probably sell it) 🤑

    • Really? Where are you finding prices that good? I see street prices for the 735xt at £230, Edge 820 the same, Vapor 2 at £150, that’s £610, or £90 more than the £520 list price of a 945 in the UK. And the 735xt is specced at 14 hours GPS, doesn’t compare very well to the 36 hours of the 945.

  115. papadxen

    I was going to change my samsung gear s3 frontier and buy a fenix 5x plus (love the look) to have all this training stats available and then garmin releases the 945 with more features, which will not come to the 5x plus.

    Why should I invest so much money on a watch when garmin doesn’t respect their customers?! At least samsung updated the old s3 frontier with the galaxy watch features a few months after the release. It’s unacceptable for a company not to give the latest feature updates to their less-than-a-year-old flagship, and still charging like 850 euros (price in Greece).

    • gingerneil

      No its not. You have to buy a device for what it does NOW. Not what you hope it might do in future. You cant buy a £20k car and expect software updates so it performs like the next £20k model that is released.
      Why is your fenix 5 now not as good as it was ? If it was the right watch for you when you bought it, it doesnt all of a sudden become something else. Better things come along – thats how it is.
      On the flip side, I have had LOADS of excellent updates for my 935 since the release and I am sure the fenix 5 will still get updated with features where possible and where that follows Garmin’s strategy for their products.

    • Paul

      Your car analogy holds well only if left Tesla out, it’s like old business model. The new emerging business model is to utilize software to future proof your products and win the competition out. Tesla and Apple are good examples. Maybe Garmin see the light someday and became Apple for sport equipments – at least Garmin has taken Apple path with pricing anyway😊

    • papadxen

      I think that you didn’t understand my first comment.
      I don’t have a fenix 5x plus, I have a samsung smartwatch (which was resently updated to the latest features supported from its hardware).
      What I was saying is that Garmin should give the latest hardware supported features to the latest fenix models and not force their customers to compromise their needs. I really like the Fenix 5x plus size and design, because after all it’s a watch that I’m gonna be wearing all day. So NOW (not in the past) I’m willing to pay more than what I would pay for the FR945, and I don’t understand why I should get less features while the hardware supports all the new ones.
      On the other hand the FR945 look isn’t the best for me, so I won’t buy either until Garmin fixes this price-features paradox.

  116. Sean

    Still no phone function. Dealbreaker for me.

  117. BerenV

    Thanks for the awesome-as-usual review on the FR945! I was wondering, though, about the activity memory on the watch. The specs on buy.garmin.com say it can store 200 hours of activity data, however, the 935 has “64 MB” of storage, and in my experience can hold well over 400 hours of training from the past year. Do you know if the watch actually starts deleting old activity files when you hit 200 hours? It has several GB for music/maps…

  118. Simon Carney

    Hi Ray, big question – will it broadcast HR via Bluetooth to Zwift or Fulgaz on Apple TV? It sounds like technically it COULD but I’m not sure it CAN without a menu option to set it up. Currently I have to use my Tickr upper arm HR monitor when using Zwift rather than my Fenix 5 – slight pain ITA.

    • Simon,

      The 945 will only broadcast HR over ANT+.

    • aapocketz

      this is unfortunately a deal-breaker for me. I have been looking to upgrade to new fitness tracking HR watch that can broadcast on bluetooth, I have 2 devices that only receive BtLE signals (example, SpeedCoach SUP2). Sure I can wear a heart rate chest strap and they are cheap, but I don’t want to wear one or have a second device that is doing something redundant that I have to carry around and keep charged.

  119. Luka

    i will buy this for the maps and battery life, i may not need the music or other features sine they are there ill eventually use them im sure !

  120. tizzledk

    Well I know what I will get for Black Friday….will stick with my Fenix 3 until then!!

  121. Dave T

    Thanks Ray. Does it work with the Inreach Mini in the same manner as a Fenix 5 Plus?

  122. Artur Piasecki

    Ray; its quite common for garmin to come with the map of the region you bought it – what if i live in lets say asia but would like to have maps for my european trip; where i am less likey to know the surroundings? can one load a different map be it into 945 or edge 530?

  123. Santosh

    Disappointing that the new watches still don’t do Ant+ FeC, still need an Edge for that

  124. chris

    Clever training offer is tempting but have a few questions if I should buy 945 in UK or wait until available in Poland or even look for different device.
    How Garmin splits world to the map regions? If I buy this watch in UK, will I have map of all Europe?
    What about service/warranty? Will Polish customer service take care of broken unit I bought in UK?
    Does 945 fully support Stryd? I mean pace and distance from Stryd when GPS is enabled?

  125. Tim

    So why exactly did I spend all that money on the “top model” Fenix 5 Plus if they cannot bother to update even just the most basic software features? It’s ridiculous, Garmin.

  126. Markus

    In the comparison table under GPS recording functionality it says:
    935: Yes
    945: Yes (with GALILEO too)
    What is exactly the difference? I also think that GPS+GALILEO works really well in Europe.

    and i found a small typo:
    Garmin has noted that they’ve spent the majority of their time on GPS+GLONASS, and not yet focused very much accuracy efforts in GPS+GLONASS. (i think you meant GPS+GALILEO in the second part)

    • Richard Mercer

      FWIW the FR935 has GALILEO too.

    • Hmm…yeah, that comparison wording is basically an artifact of me for some random day deciding to note Galileo in the comparison chart, but not adding it in for the 500 or so other products in there. I’ll get that cleaned up.

    • James

      FWIW since I’m not sure the replies answered the main question.

      The difference when boiled down is effectively the Satellite system or combination of Systems used.

      So GPS – American Satellite Positioning System – Technically the first one used Globally.

      GLONASS – is the Russian Satellite Positioning System – it is the second navigational system in operation with global coverage and of comparable precision to that of GPS.

      GALILEO – Is one of the newest Satellite Positioning Systems created by the European Union.

      What does this mean?

      In theory at least the idea is that depending on your location you will benefit from using one or a combination of satellite systems to get an accurate fix and therefore more precise results for your runs etc etc etc.

      In reality this isn’t always as obvious as it might sound – In theory if you were in Russia using GPS + GLONASS should “naturally” work better but this all depends on a whole variety of factors and basically…. test test and test and discover which one works best for your needs…

  127. joset

    So any benefit of F5+ over FR945? aparta from materials/finishes, storage capacity?

    Since 945 is superior in software features and with the new ELEVATE sensor.

  128. David

    I get a seriously good price deal for the 935 at a local retailer (AUD $519 vs. AUD $949 for a 945). It’s my first sports watch which I would like to use instead of a bicycle computer for cycling in general, gym (indoor training), potentially Zwift (for indoor cycling), running and swimming (plus day to day step tracking).

    What should I do, invest in a 945 now or get a good deal for a 935 and upgrade in 1 or 2 years?

    Thanks for you help in advance!

    • Stuart

      I’d look at the feature sets of the two watches, and consider: what does the 945 have, that the 935 doesn’t, and which you are likely to use?

      For me, that’s the Garmin Coach, and the better training analytics, which doesn’t add up to enough to warrant that price difference for me. Your use case may well be different, in which case the equation changes.

      From what you’ve said, my advice would be to stick with the 935 for now. But you know your situation better than I do.

    • David

      I totally agree, Stuart! I think I can miss out on the Garmin Coach for now as well as other add-on features (Strava Summit and Zwift can help me here too). The watch itself hasn’t changed too significant in any of its core capabilities and if so, probably not worth an additional AUD$430 for me personally as a beginner/first-sport watch owner. Many thanks 🙂

  129. Sander

    Hi Ray,

    I am missing something in your comparison tool, how much “MARKERS/WAYPOINT DIRECTION” (or Coursepoint) a device can handle?

    This is always a surprise when I am buying a Garmin device:

    -935, 50 points
    -edge 520, 250 points
    -edge 520plu, 200 points
    -edge 530 ??
    -forerunner 945 ??

    Fit course files are more common this days. RidewithGPS, Locus (link to apps.garmin.com) can generate this can’t of courses.

  130. Mark

    Hi Ray
    Are power based workouts available in running mode ?

    • Janyne Kizer

      +1 I’ve also been waiting for power-based run workouts.

    • Not that I’m aware of, since power meters can’t be paired in run mode.

    • Janyne Kizer

      Garmin Running Power, Runscribe, Stryd all pair in run mode.

    • the5krunner (tfk)

      you can sort of create them in FinalSurge (beta platform)
      but the execution on the garmin device just shows the power target and you don’t get alerts. at least that’s how it was a couple of months back. ie its only a tiny way towards the real solution

    • David

      They feed into connect iq data fields. CIQ dysuria m datafields cannot be used for limits or workouts

    • gingerneil

      There are still questions on running power, but I continue to be amazed that this still isnt properly integrated yet.

    • Janyne Kizer

      Well, that technical limitation needs to be addressed. I would contend that this is not really “support” of running power. It should be supported in the same ways as cycling power — including workouts. And yes, I realize there are opinions on running with power but if Garmin says that they support it, then then should go all in and really support it.

    • Will

      As others have pointed out, power meters like Stryd absolutely can be paired in Run mode on any Garmin multisport watch — you just can’t see your power metrics unless you use a Connect IQ app that will display them for you. Garmin Running Power doesn’t really count since the RD-Pod / HRM-RUN don’t pair as power meters — all the power calculation is done in the app. In particular, Garmin Running Power is not available to other CIQ apps, while Stryd power is.

      And there are CIQ apps that will do power-based workouts in run mode, although they’ll never be as convenient or seamless as native workouts. Here’s one that I wrote (Run Power):
      link to apps.garmin.com

  131. Nicholas Favill

    ebay, i have probably been very lucky with garmin products and have yet to have issues with second hand ones even. i paid 140 (new) for the 735 which included the hrm run which i don’t need and can flog for 40, the misfit for 58, and the edge for 110. so all in all 268 or half the £520 and you’re right about the battery but how often am I going to use the 735xt for 14 hours, once a year maybe? That is my point about diminishing returns, i am not a pro and swim, ride, run purely for fun and keeping myself fit, the metrics are way beyond me and i like the novelty of tech more than anything, hence ownership of pretty much everything!

    • Bargains, then! Yes, I picked up a Vivoactive HR BNIB and a Suunto Ambit 2 in very good condition off ebay, dirt cheap, and was lucky enough not to have any warranty issues (for me Garmin have improved immeasurably in this – I returned my 310xt and my 610 at least twice each, zero problems on newer units). That said, it’s perhaps not a completely fair price comparison with something too new to be showing up on ebay, and you need to factor any repairs out of warranty into your TCO, really.

      I think perhaps you’re not actually the target market for this unit. For me, the mapping and the DEM elevation corrections make me see the value of it beyond a 935. But definitely not until my car’s through its MOT 🙂

  132. Paul

    I have ny mind few questions left answered by review that are pain points of my current experience with FR935. As a backgroud I do triathlon outside of XC skiing period as living in hilly part of Finland so for me the two sensors not reviewed here that those accuracy & performance are important are barometric elevation and temperature sensors.

    I have moved to FR935 from V800 which I still use occasionally and reference for barometric & temperature measurements as well as GPS. I what I have seen is that FR935 just is not as accurate as V800 regarding of any of those sensors. So, I am especially interested if there are any improvement on that front in the FR945 as being totally new desing internally compared to MARQ series.

    What I have experienced with FR935 is that temperature sensor is accurate and same time not accurate because Garmin restricts the recorded temperature to have zero digits. As a keen open water swimmer starting season as early as possible with wet suit I am interested to know what is the accurate temperature and especially its variation during my swim session so I can plan my routes to find those warmer spots on lake. You know, there are quite noticeably feeling difference if temperature change 0.5 degC when over all level is 14..17 degC. I the FR945 any better?

    What comes to barometric sensor is that the gained elevation for skiing sessions define quite much how hard route I have chosen. Unfortunately FR935 tend to drift around more than V800 and my sample size as two FR935 on is especially bad nearing to limit to claim it faulty. Also Garmin has track record to not so good design like what happen with VA3. How FR945 performs in this front?

    As the review already show the GPS is meh, and for me that is not good news. V800 beats FR935 hands down for every sports I have done by wearing those two devices like yesterdays 80min open water session with 4000 m total distance covered exept by FR935 which thinks that 3077 m is enough for me 🙁 Yes, FR935 track is all over the shore line but V800 shows even small circled I did to get the 4000m full in the end of the session.

    And the question number ONE for any top Garmin device: IS THE LIMIT OF TWO CIQ DATAFIELD PER SPORT CHANGED?

  133. Torbjørn

    I wonder if the watch used the same processor as the Fenix 5 Plus family, or does has it been upgraded to increase the overall speed when you’re navigating maps etc.?

  134. Thanks Rainmaker, great reviews! Thank you!

    A curiosity, where are yoi born? In the videos I really struggle to follow you…you talk very fast 🙂

  135. Richard B

    Does the beep-beep-beep of the metronome play back through bluetooth headsets?

    I know the Fenix series doesn’t do this but I keep hoping that Garmin will add this “feature”.

    Where I run there is a lot of traffic noise and I can barely hear it.

  136. Chris watts

    Please, PLEASE tell me they’re not bringing out a new Vector 3 Power Meter as I’ve just bought one today! 😐
    Great review of the 945 though 👍

  137. Scott

    Hi Ray. Should this sentence, “Again, Garmin has noted that they’ve spent the majority of their time on GPS+GLONASS, and not yet focused very much accuracy efforts in GPS+GLONASS.” instead say, “GPS+Galileo”? I assume as much. Also, did Garmin do anything different with the plastic back that has problems cracking from frequent swimming?

  138. That guy

    Is the HR any better for daily monitoring than the 935? I find that abysmal and would like something better. Or will people who have bad wrist readings still suffer with this?

    • Torbjørn

      The OHR I updated and supposed to give a little bit better results. There are however some many factors that have influence on the OHR, that I don’t think you should count on it for anything else than measuring your RHR.

  139. Javi

    Great review as always Ray.

    Just a question. Is there any chance that Garmin at some point releases a new triathlon watch without wrist sensor, NPC, music or the other useless gadgets?

    I’ve had to return a Fénix 5 fue to severe GPS inconsistencies. Wrist sensor was crap too.

    I just want a new watch that works, with good battery and 2019 looks. And I don’t mind paying good money for that. $400-500? Sure if it works and never fails. I think manufacturers are pushing only sport interested athletes to buy some old 910, 920 or Fenix 3… Because those things worked much better that current models

    • JR

      I doubt there will ever be a tri watch produced going forward, by any manufacturer, that lacks a wrist sensor. The market for a watch without it is tiny, and it’s not very expensive to include. Why don’t you just get a 935? The only extra feature it has (among the ones you listed) is the wrist sensor. It has great GPS performance (better than the 920 or Fenix 3), and it’s in your price range. Alternatively, Suunto and Polar have adopted a sports-first strategy, though they’re still struggling with the new Sony GPS chip.

      BTW, I’ve never heard anyone suggest that the 920 or the Fenix 3 work better than the 935 or F5 Plus. (The standard 5 has well-known wireless failings that Garmin acknowledged.)

      Anyway, one thing I think is worth keeping in mind when we talk about the inadequate performance of various GPS watches: Pro athletes are actually far less picky than DCR readers. If they have no issues–I’ve talked to lots of them, and most know very little about new products or even the full capabilities of the ones they own–then maybe the tools we have are more than adequate. If your hobby is squinting at GPS tracks, then you might be disappointed sometimes, but the stuff that’s on the market is definitely fit for purpose.

    • JR

      One more recommendation: V800. Best accuracy of any GPS ever, no wrist sensor, great value, and surprisingly good looks for such an old watch.

    • Javi

      Thanks for your reply JR.

      At least from my experience it seems that in the past 3 years GPS accuracy has gone worse. I had severe GPS inconsistencies with two units of Fenix 5 in places where my old Fenix 3 or 920 never had problems. And I’m not referring to showing me in the wrong side of the road. I’m referring to mislocations of 4 km in a normal countryside road. Those Fenix 5 worked perfectly fine 99.8% of time but at some point in 150-200km rides, they lost signal without apparent reason. So annoying…

      I do not know it they changed the chipset or it’s due to software trying to increase battery life, but I do know these new products are not as reliable as they are marketed. That’s why I asked Ray about a tri watch that guarantees accuracy in long rides in the mountains, allows for connection with all kind of sensors and has a long battery life. Nothing else and no matter what it costs.

      Anyway, after some seasons in the Garmin environment, I guess I’ll end up buying a 935 as you say…

    • Tim Grose

      Have had a 935 for 2 years and can’t recall any significant GPS issues.

    • PaulB

      I have both FR935 and Polar V800 in use. *I want* to use only FR935 but *I cant* because the GPS accuracy let me down ever too often.

      In best case I only loose 2..3 % of total distance but regularly more like todays OWS session 4070/4606 m. The latter is V800 giving me 1:51/100m which is just normal to me counting few stops to correct goggles so I belive that over FR935 measurement. Yes, you can just accept that level of accuracy but what is the meaning to spend 500€ to device that should be KOM as Strava puts that.

    • Tim Grose

      Are you talking about accuracy of OWS rather more than GPS accuracy per se? Always struck me that OWS was as much down to the algorithm than GPS accuracy. I was never much of a swimmer but GPS watch in swim cap seemed to best way to get some decent data.

    • PaulB

      Yes, the example was OWS which should be solvable problem but what I have seen the FR935 undercuts Polar V800 10,,25 % considering the total distance. V800 correlates always well with my regular pace of circa 1:50 for longer 3..5 km distances.

      What comes to other sports (especially XC skiing what I did about 1000km last winter) is that same phenomenon is present there also. If I just use regular GPS then diff between V800/M600 and FR935 is 5..10%, by utilizing GPS+GLONASS it goes down to 2,,4 %. Best has been GPS+Galileo comp, it usually goes like I loose only one to two hundred meters per 10K. I live in Central Finland so quite high up north if that matters (as it will in some sense because the GNSS satelite cover is lowest in Polar cap areas). It has always been that way that FR935 give less total distance than V800 or M600 that I use in the other hand I live in two ecosystems at same time, want to move Garmin but the accuracy (GPS and barometric elevation) issues are keeping me holding my trusty V800.

  140. Marcel

    Thanks for the review, Ray, detailed as ever.
    As for the watch – it sounds like a boatload of functionality. I’m glad the maps are now one a watch that is a little less expensive than the Fenix range, though the price is still beyond what I consider sane. Looks like Garmin considers triathletes to be rich – maybe because of all the expensive bike-stuff they need to accumulate? Bit of a shame. Anyway, can’t argue about company policy, it is what it is.
    But what about the Fenix 5 plus? I thought the Fenix range was supposed to be the top-of-the-line watch, and now it is not getting the new ‘training load/acclimation metrics stuffs’? That seems exceptionally strange to me. Could that mean than an actual Fenix 6 is about to be released or at least being developed? Or is the Fenix line being abandoned? Any word on that from Garmin?
    I have been saving up (since the Fenix 3) for one of those, but if the 5plus is the last one, I’d like to hear it before spending my entire pension on a watch that won’t be supported much longer.

    • It’s unimaginable that the Fenix line is going to be dumped, they’re selling too well. Don’t forget the line got a refresh after 18 months, where the 935 is out beyond two years now.

      I’d be amazed if these features don’t turn up in an F6 in the not too distant future, but that could be anywhere between tomorrow and this time next year.

      As others have observed, the new software features have associated licensing costs so aren’t likely to appear in existing units. Pity.

  141. Yanick

    Hi Ray,

    Great review.

    Would you know if some of the mountain bike edge features will be integrated. Ex: trailfork that could be really handy when trail running or a triathlete training for an Xterra.

    Thank and have a nice day.

  142. greyltc

    Can you tell us who the “specialty retailers” are by region? I’m personally interested in the UK where apparently Wiggle is one (since they say they have 200+ units for one day delivery), but are there others?

    • Ommike

      I would like to know this as well.

      Is Clever Training UK a “specialty retailer”?

    • Yeah, I think that’s a definition that Garmin twists as they see fit. For example, I know that REI is considered one, as is Wiggle. Clever Training is one in the UK – which is why they have planned stock on the same day Wiggle gets it.

      However, Wiggle UK also has some sort of exclusive for the bundle units specifically.

    • greyltc

      Somehow wiggle.co.uk seems more “special” than clevertraining.co.uk

      Apparently I can wear my 945 tomorrow if I order (non-bundle, watch only) from wiggle.co.uk in the next 3hr 44 min. Whereas clevertraining.co.uk has responded to my email about their availability with “We have requested an estimate date of arrival from head office, once we receive this we ill let you know.”

      I’m torn because
      A) my money is burning a hole in my favorite pants and everyone can see the watch tan on my empty wrist today
      B) clevertraining has unknown delivery delay but supports DCR and has the 10% DCR VIP discount

      It seems like there are some weird distribution/punishment games going on between Garmin and Amazon so I wonder what other shenanigans Garmin is doing with other distributors. I really wish there was some way to get more clarity on the distribution/stock/availability so I can make an informed decision on where to buy from.

    • Mattias Kardell

      I placed an order at Clevertraining U.K. more or less directly after your review with links to Clevertraining U.K. went live. They
      do unfortunatly not have stock and informed they await information from Head Office (Clevertraining U.S.?) when and how many units they will receive.
      Hope they will receive units soon (with Europe maps).
      Guess I need to sit still in the boat…😀
      Thanks for a great review and keep the good work up!

  143. Brian

    Ray – Great review, already ordered mine Tuesday morning. 🙂

    After doing some reading, I see where Spotify requires a Premium Spotify account. Can you comment on Iheartradio and deezer in that regard? I don’t see it in the review and the Connect IQ pages for those apps do not specify.

    Related question, are these the ONLY three streaming services available now? Of course, I’m already an Amazon Music subscriber.

    • I believe they do also require premium subscriptions, but I haven’t used them in about a year. 🙁

      I thought Garmin also has one other random audio service as well. Not sure where the landing page for them is though.

    • Tim Grose

      I got the cheapest paid for account for Deezer a while back for another music Garmin watch and that works fine but pretty sure the free one won’t work else been wasting my money!

    • James

      At the moment they all require “Premium” (Paid for) subscriptions – At least Spotify and Deezer.

      From what I have understood it’s now mostly down to the subscription service and for them to support the offline download subscription model – unless of course Apple and Samsung etc stopped monopolising on the Cellular / LTE area quite as strongly. But that’s just my opinion.

  144. Kyle

    I had to contact Garmin support chat directly to get the info, but the FR945 only supports 2x active CIQ data fields at once.
    Given this and no native running power support, this is a complete non-starter for me. Here’s hoping for the Fenix 6 to have better support for these items.

    • MartinD

      But what’s the (technical or whatever) reason for this? Two datafields is pretty limited, as more and more ciq things are available.
      My edge 520 has 6, my explore 10, I think…! Is it something about GArmin worrying this fields could take away processing power or use more energy and the unit would be slower / have a harder battery drain?

    • Markus G

      Thanks for that info.
      It’s also a bit of a disappointment for me right now. Since I’ve seen how nice native support can be (I also own a Suunto 9) I’d really like to have it on my Garmin (Fenix 5plus at the moment), as well.
      CIQ solutions and their limitations don’t really catch up.

    • Tim Grose

      Imagine the 2 limit is to avoid your watch crashing due to memory issues. Edge lot bigger device of course with presume more resources for such things.

    • Janyne Kizer

      It does seem silly to push CIQ with a new store and all and then limit the usage by having one if their higher end multi sport watches allow only two fields.

    • Tim Grose

      Out of interest why is a 2 CIQ limit a non starter? 2 is common across all Garmins AFAIK although, for some reason, the 735 has 3 as I recall. Ironically the only CIQ data field I use regularly is the Stryd one. The 945 has so many features not sure what else I might need other than perhaps Garmin power for comparison but that’s always higher so don’t tend to bother now. What you can do however is setup different activity profile if say you want some other CIQ data fields for specific things like a different type of rum. Plus of course the 2 you use for cycling won’t be impacted on the 2 for the standard running activity profile etc

    • Paul

      I fear that Garmin has painted itself to corner with CIQ app limit. There might well be some very low level OS design choice/choises like memory structures or multitasking model that just prevents to use more than two CIQ per anytime concurrently.

      Otherwise we should have seen that limit lifted if not else but higher than high end MARQ devices if any already. Seriously, they ask > 1..2k€ for wrist mounted tech with that kind of dumb limit.

    • Kyle

      I use Stryd (field 1, a must without proper running power support), and commonly use the Xert MPA+Power field (field 2) – this shows current power and what essentially amounts to recovery after intervals.

      I’d also like to simultaneously use a version of “Datarun Premium” which has its own support for creating and executing power-based workouts, and can show all the power-related metrics Garmin should already support. Or perhaps a CIQ field that shows power-derived stress scores, or a custom pacing field, or…

      Having to sacrifice one or more data fields to get power metrics and workouts that should already be supported just limits all the other nifty things I should be able to do with my watch.

  145. Chelsea

    So is this touchscreen capable? I can’t find anything in the comparison tool that says (which surprised me) and I was comparing to the Vivoactive 3 (which I have). Just curious and can’t seem to find an answer around the web.

  146. Mario

    “…However, costum data pages can have up to four data fields on them, in a variety of patterns…Though, I do really wish we could see more data fields on a single page, like Suunto supports on certain watches in certain configurations…” Why after all this years only four data fields on a single page? Is it so diffficult for Garmin to make more data fields on a single page?

    • Tim Grose

      There are CIQ data fields that allow more but personally I find 4 when running is enough for me to actually read things. Or maybe I am just getting old 🙂

  147. Massimo iannelli

    Thank you for your always excellent review. Don’t you hate when your watch tells you that your training is Unproductive? what does garmin wants to say? better stay home on the couch? 🙂
    if you need some help to test some stuff I leave about 40 minutes from Amsterdam, I run basically everyday, you can find me on strava, I am following you.

  148. Blake Edwards


    Thanks for another great review. I think I’m finally going to upgrade my trusty 920XT to this watch.

    Just a quick note, on the product comparison tool it says waterproof to 100m, but I think it’s only down to 50m (it’s a tiny point, and I doubt anyone will be buying the watch based on this, just I know you like to be accurate).

    Thanks again for the review


    • James

      Correct – Due to the build materials to have a lighter watch for running and general fitness than the more outdoorsy Fenix line this is only rated to 5 ATM not 10 ATM. Effectively this translates to 50 meters.

      link to buy.garmin.com

  149. Jonathan

    Hi Ray. Thanks for this great review. I just signed up for my first Olympic triathlon (have finished a couple of sprints in the past). I previously used a 735xt and currently have an Apple Watch series 4. Would you recommend upgrading to the 945 to train? Also, what platform would you recommend to follow a training plan?


  150. Joshua

    Thanks for the detailed post!

    Does Vo2 heat/altitude also adjust for indoor training for cycling? It’s heating up here and even with the air conditioning on full throttle my HR is higher than in winter and my “fitness” numbers are dropping.


    • Tim Grose

      No as it seems to use weather data outdoors from the GCM app and that obviously does not know about your own pain cave.

    • James

      This is correct. You would have to have a built in thermometer into the watch which then creates a whole host of other issues such as the fact your own body heat would likely affect the results.

      Plus then the whole device would cost even more and battery life would also be affected.

    • Paul

      There are builtin thermometer in the FR935/945.Sure, it is measuring mostly your skin heating value in the air but when swimming the watch settles the environmental temperature gradually over few minutes ’cause plastic has poor heat conductivity. Metal constructed Fenix aerie is more quick to catch water temp.

  151. James

    Do the interchangeable wrist bands from the 935 work with the 945?

  152. Martin

    Is this the one I have been waiting for as fenix 5 (wearing it24/7, running 100k/week) replacement? Yes or no will do:) tjz

  153. Mike S.

    Questions about using Spotify to listen to podcasts across devices.

    The music integration on the newest Garmin watches isn’t really relevant to me because I listen to podcasts when I run or work out. The downside is that I have to carry my phone in my pocket and I wouldn’t be able to utilize audio prompts from the watch.

    I use Overcast on my iPhone to subscribe to various podcasts that I listen to when commuting or running. So all the podcasts live on my phone.

    I understand you can use Spotify to listen to podcasts as well. I am now wondering if Spotify can sync across devices. Would I be able to subscribe to a podcast on Spotify and listen to it on a commute and then pick up where I left off through Spotify on the watch?

    If so, that would be a game changer for me and I will be buying this new watch.

    • Tim Grose

      Not sure about Spotify but there are CIQ apps for podcasts.

    • Shaun McDonough

      Mike S.
      I was going to say, sometimes I listen to music from my watch(Fenix 5x+) only and sometimes I listen to music from my phone(Android). Either way I still hear audio prompts(mile, heart rate, pace and time) via my Bluetooth headphones. It works through Garmin Connect Mobile on your phone. From Garmin Connect Mobile select Turn on laps then select ‘Pace or Speed Alerts and set Heart Rate Alerts to your liking. I know that some phones like to unload background apps and you might have to run Garmin Connect from your device just before your activity.

  154. Nick


    One thing is omitted.

    Does Garmin take into consideration the TSS data taken from other applications or devices sync’d to Garmin Connect? For example, after a HITT session on Zwift using a Neo 2, after which the data is then uploaded to Garmin Connect, is the Garmin TSS metrics (i.e. fatigue level and recovery rate) updated accordingly?


    • Janyne Kizer

      I don’t think that Garmin takes anything from Zwift into consideration. Calories burned, etc. not in their other calculations so I’d surprised if it’s factored into their other metrics.

    • Tim Grose

      Not in my experience either. As such for Zwift I tend to record it on a Garmin as well, save it so the watch computes all that stuff and then choose which one to keep in Strava etc. I think the problem is that Zwift does not have the Firstbeat algorithms.

  155. Kaz


    thanks for another great review.

    Just a correction for many Garmin Devices – indoor pool length now goes down to 14 meter since v5.1 I think it was. (Fenix 3HR, 5X, 5x+ and I guess Marq and 945 as well?)

    Comparison sheet says 17meter.

    I have 5x+ APAC – so I’m jumping ship for a 945 EU model. Never again APAC.

  156. Rui Pereira

    In my case the link to Amazon doesn’t work (link: link to amazon.es)

  157. ZW

    How many ConnectIQ data fields does the 945 support? Thanks.

  158. sam

    I was wondering if the Structured workouts form Trainingpeaks are working on the Forerunner 945.
    I use my older 735xt but wold like to upgrade my Watch.
    Witch one would you recommend for a Triathlet ?

    Your work is Awesome Thanx!


  159. Jeff

    Is it possible to see real time swim HR data by using the Polar OH1 Plus with its swim goggle clip, or is the only option to use one of the two straps you mentioned and analyze the data post-workout?

    • Paul

      Only if you place OH1 in your lower arm/ wrist near 2..5 cm to your sport watch like Fr945. ANT+ or Bluetooth will travel few centimeters in the water.

      Maybe if your swimming position/placing of goggle strap mounted OH1 enables it to stay above water so the FR945 can catch the signal whenever your hand is out of water – at least that should work if you look the watch during your restime in the end of the pool. The recorded signal may be quite inconsistent by having dropped sections here and there.

  160. Fernando HzPz

    Amazing review, congratulations on your work!
    Do you have any news on if and when Garmin is going to release a new version of their Diving watch (MK1)?

    • I haven’t heard of anything. Though, if they follow typical Outdoor products release cycles of 18-24hrs, perhaps this fall. But it’s tough with no precedent set.

  161. Olivier from Paris

    Hi Ray,
    perhaps I went too fast through the Louvre, but I didn’t spot a screenshot of the cycling power jauge.
    I wanted to check if Garmin would catch the opportunity of a new product release to tackle the WTF bugs of my FR935:
    – cycling power jauge colour code: grey/purple/blue/green/yellow/orange/red instead of grey/blue/green/yellow/orange like anybody else including Garmin Connect
    – French language menus requiring english language skills and knowledge of the original version to be understood (eg: “Etalonner alimentation” will be understood by the average frenchman as “Calibrate power supply”, not “Calibrate power meter/sensor”)

    • Olivier from Paris

      grey/purple/blue/green/yellow/orange/red instead of grey/blue/green/yellow/orange/red/purple

  162. Itai

    Same situation…

  163. François

    The emergency SOS notification is available on the Fenix 5X plus now. I have the option in Garmin connect and I see it on the watch too.

  164. Volker

    Great review!

    One question:

    from the hiking side: is the fr945 with maping a good/better alternative compared to the Fenix 5x+? Or is there any navigation functionality on the 5x+ that isn´t added to the fr945?


  165. Philip

    I’m confused about which HRM to get with the 945.

    The Tri and Swim are both nearly 4 years-old, the former missing some running dynamics stuff on the HRM-Run. None of these are dual Bluetooth SMart/Ant+ – that’s only the HRM-Dual – which doesn’t do runing dynamics at all.

    What do you get with it if Running and Biking is mainly your thing? The HRM-Run?

  166. Philip

    I’m a bit confused about which HRM to get with the 945.

    I’m looking for mainly running and cycling with a bit of swimiming (and lots of other outdoor stuff that I won’t wear a strap for).

    The Tri/Swim bundle is a bit long in the tooth, lacks Bluetooth and some running dynamics stuff.
    The HRM-Dual doesn’t have any running dynamics stuff at all.
    The HRM-Run has all the dynamics, no Bluetooth, but I guess is OK for biking?

    Is the HRM run the one to go for until the update the Tri/Swim?

  167. Alexander Momberger

    Dear Ray, dear Garmin-Blake,
    I have 2 questions;

    1. Compared to the fenix 5 plus, does the 945 have a new/faster processor? Calculation of routes takes quite a while on the fenix 5+.

    2. As asked previously: Will any of the new Features come to the fenix 5 plus? I’m about to get the Fenix 5+ simply becauso of the Looks. But I hesitate till I get the info.

    Thank you.

  168. Philip

    Which HRM is best with the 945 if swimming isn’t too important – an HRM-Run as it has the most data?

    The HRM-dual has none…

    The Tri/Swim bundle is a bit long in the tooth and lacks a few running dynamics fields…

  169. Philip

    I’m a bit confused about which is the best HRM to go with the 945.

    I’ll be running and biking mostly, as well as hiking/climbing etc. That makes me think the running dynamics data from the HRM-run is the way to go.

    The HRM-Dual doesn’t have any running dynamics data, and the Tri bundle is a bit long in the tooth (and probably overkill).

    Advice/comments please! 🙂

    • Pavel

      HRM-RUN will be fine if you are interested in Running Dynamics data, but if you do swimming as well you might look into HRM-TRI which has Running Dynamics as well and you can swim with it.

      If you are not into Running Dynamics you can buy whatever has BT or ANT+ and you are good to go.

    • Stuart

      I wouldn’t use the HRM-Tri in a swimming pool – it’s not made for that, and the chlorine is likely to cause it to degrade if it’s more than an occasional swim.

      But for open water swimming, it’s fine.

  170. Marcos

    Hi Ray,

    Could you be more specific in the battery and memory comparison between the 945 vs 5X+ ?

    Thank you,

  171. Guilermo Guerini

    I just called Clever Training (US) and they said they are expecting to receive the 945 shipment from Garmin between May 10th and 15th. I’m jealous people in the UK are already receiving their watches. 🙁

    • Guillermo Guerini

      Hmmm my credit card JUST got charged. I placed the order on Tuesday (April 30th) at 8am.

    • Guillermo Guerini

      And the order status is now “processing”… It would be AWESOME if they received the shipment ahead of time. 🙂

    • chris

      I do not think that means 945s are in stock. Looks that it is how they label when you submit order.

      “Once you have hit the “Submit Order” button your order has gone through and begins processing”

      Source: link to clevertraining.co.uk

    • A small number of FR945’s went out (and are going out) today from CT US. Like many retailers in the US, CT received a small number of units as part of initial launch day bits. However, the vast majority will be fulfilled per the original timeframes of mid-May, mostly starting in about 7-10 days.

      Thanks for the support!

    • Brian

      Thanks Ray.

      Technically my pre-order said “early May” not “mid-May” but I know that is a quibble.

      I was a little alarmed to see UK orders already going out though.

    • Guillermo Guerini

      UPDATE: I got an email from CT at 3:30pm (ET) with my shipping label!! It should be at home by Saturday. 🙂 Can’t wait.

    • alang

      I just heard back from CleverTraining. They expect to receive watches from Garmin on the 15th and will begin shipping after that.

    • Just as a minor update for Clever Training US folks, I’ve confirmed with CT that all US based orders will be fulfilled this week, with units arriving at various Clever Training US distribution centers Weds/Thurs/Fri, and shipping out usually those same days from the distribution center nearest to you. This is true of FR945 base units and looks to be good for bundles as well.

      There are some extras available, for new orders placed. Obviously, if you place a new order later this week on Friday, no guarantees on that. First come first serve and all that.

      Thanks for the support all!

    • Brian

      My order changed from “processing” to “shipped” around 4pm today (I ordered at 830am on Tuesday 4/30), so this jives with Ray’s comment above around CT USA stock being fulfilled this week.

      Thanks for the updates Ray.

  172. Chuck

    Does anyone know if TrueUp supports the Body Battery?

  173. anthony

    Thanks Ray! Great job as always! Been waiting for this one!

    This COULD be the dream watch for me, but only they’ve fixed the one major issue I had with the Fenix 5plus series which is its absolutely abysmal gps accuracy/distance measurement when in the woods and under tree cover. I went through (2) 5Xplus’s and then tried a 5Plus but the issue was a chronic one. (Under-measuring distance on wooded, twisty-turny trails.) On average, the 5Plus series would report 10-15% less distance and sometimes as much as 20% less, than I know my routes to be. (and from what others in my group runs with various watches would get for distance). I tried everything, 1 second sampling on gps, waiting 10 mins for gps lock, changing wrists, etc, etc.. They were just bad.

    98% of my sports activity with the watch is trail running, and while I love the idea of maps, payments and music, If the watch can’t get the distance at least close to right, its unusable for me as a running watch.

    The one hope i have is the excellent reputation of the 935 and its vastly superior gps accuracy, maybe due to the plastic body. So Im crossing my fingers and pre-ordering!

  174. acousticbiker

    Thanks as always for the great review!

    Are the following available as watch face data fields?

    – Temperature in current location (from phone, not built in temperature sensor)
    – Time of next calendar appointment
    – Body battery

  175. Adrian S.

    I’ll keep my 935 since I’m not really that interested in the new features. I would have like them to address at least two things:

    – display resolution: it’s not horrible but in this day and age…
    – two IQ data fields limit per activity

    Thanks for the review as always!

    • PaulB

      I second this and add the overall sensor accuracy which should also be improved but seem that longevity of battery has run over everything else (looking for you, Sony GPS chipset which every manufacturer and their dog seems to be using nowadays).

      There should be builtin accuracy with proper power envelope for those who want that in expense of battery life selectable in setting. I can very well live with 10h GPS life if I can select the that mode for example swimming and running and left the cycling type of speedier more easy GPS trackable sports use lower power mode.

      So, I think to wait and see where Sony chipset is capable with firmware and chipset improvements and use meanwhile FR935./V800 combo.

  176. Emre

    The software updates (temperature and altitude acclimation, body battery, as well as detailed training load/focus metrics) that were recently given to inferior (and cheaper) products on the line such as the Forerunner 245 and technically equal (minus the new SPO2/HR sensor) Forerunner 945 not ‘trickling down’ to the Fenix 5X Plus, which is the flagship of Garmin trail wrist wearables (outside of the MARQ), is a dissapointing marketing ploy to make the Fenix 5X Plus obsolete and push users to purchase a 945 or upcoming Fenix 6. It makes me wonder, does Garmin not realize that things like this may be pushing users towards Suunto by alienating users of devices that are just one generation removed from new products that can benefit from new features with a simple software update? I’m extremely confused and saddened by this move. I think everyone that owns a F5X Plus should be calling BS on this and writing in to Garmin. I’ve been sticking with Garmin because of the ecosystem of Garmin connect etc. but I’m about a nose hair away from tossing them to the side in favor of Suunto.

    • Pavel

      detailed training load/focus is not in 245. I don’t really understand what is the problem here. F5X Plus is and will still be going strong for stuff you bought in a first place, but you won’t have stuff from latest products.

      It’s like complaining that latest iPhones are better then previous generation.

    • Markus G

      Towards Suunto?
      You mean that company that tells people that they will no longer be able to use their older watches because their Movescount service got too expensive for them. Thus they want you to use a tiny smartphone to do your analysis stuff?

      I don’t think so. I do own a Fenix 5+ and I bought it for the features it had at the time it was released. Any new feature that will be added is nice but I do not expect it. Btw: I also own a Suunto 9. It’s a different world, if you are that much into features, you will not go for Suunto.

    • piotr

      Hi there,
      as regards the questions about fenix5xplus update – the example with iphone is not properly put – this is not that new products should not develop. imagine in your example of iphone that you bought the most advanced and expensive iphone a few months ago and now there is a new line of iphone more expensive but also some newly updated products which are much cheaper and the new products get new iOS (including the cheaper lines) but your flagship (like F5X plus here) stays with older iOS. would you buy next flagship iphone next time?

    • Emre

      Absolutely not, what I’m talking about is akin to the iOS being updated with the new iPhones but Apple doesn’t push it to the iPhone that’s one generation removed because it doesn’t want to, not because it physically can’t because the hardware is different.

      Additionally, body battery is included in the 245 as well as detailed training load behind the scenes (to quote Ray) “Added temperature and altitude acclimation behind scenes (used for VO2Max metrics, but not shown as widget like on FR945/MARQ)”. They haven’t even done this with a software push to the Fenix 5X, so your comment is completely off base.

    • papadxen

      I totally agree with Emre!!
      I don’t have a fenix 5x plus, I have a samsung smartwatch (which was resently updated to the latest features supported from its hardware). Lately I’m thinking of switching to the 5x plus, cause I want a more durable and fitness capable watch with longer battery than my samsung. I also love the 5x+ style.
      So in my opinion Garmin should give the latest hardware supported features to the latest fenix models and not force their customers to compromise their needs. I really like the Fenix 5x plus size and design, because after all it’s a watch that I’m gonna be wearing all day. So I’m willing to pay more than what I would pay for the FR945, and I don’t understand why I should get less features while the hardware supports all the new ones. On the other hand the FR945 look isn’t the best for me.
      After all the Fenix 5 plus series are not one generation behind, are the current generation of the Fenix series. Don’t compare it with the Iphones compare is with Samsung phones, it wouldn’t be ok if Samsung released new software updates for the A series and not pass those features to the flagship S series. so I won’t buy either until Garmin fixes this price-features paradox. Garmin should update the 5x+ or lower the price!!!

  177. Spencer Oswald

    Man this watch seems awesome. Definitely has features i have been hoping for for years. I am still kicking the Ambit 2S which is a rock but when that dies (and this goes on sale) I will look into getting this.

  178. Alexis

    From a cyclist point of view who does 70% cycling, 15% gym 7,5% run/swim… What would you say I’m losing going with this instead of Edge 530/830?


  179. Michael Chomiczewski

    Actually, Ray answered that question indirectly in this 945 review and directly in mapping/navigation/ClimbPro section of link to dcrainmaker.com

    Maps are TopoActive and Europe set costs $59.99, but North America doesn’t seem to be available for sale. Meaning it would be best to buy a US watch with US maps preloaded and then purchase other available maps if needed…


  180. Marios

    Ray, does the running mileage total (displayed on the main watch face) show *just* the running total (gps-based) and *not* the running+walking (step-based) total?

    In all the previous incarnations of CIQ, Garmin combined the two distances which made me completely disable the activity tracking. But then you wouldn’t get a “running” distance in the main screen at all which negated that feature completely.

    I understand how this is useful for hoby-joggers or people who care about “activity” levels but if you are a serious runner you couldn’t care less on how many miles you walked (step-wise) when your running load is in the 100mi range …

    Garmin is so disappointing when it comes to UX details like that …

    • Charles

      So, the elite sub 2:10 marathoners are not serious runners? They use Nike watches or FitBit watches 🙂

    • Tim Grose

      Just the actual running total on my one. Note sure which previous watches you are referring to? 935, for instance, only showed my actual running in history.

    • Marios

      Tim, I am not referring to running history. That has indeed been showing the correct running-only total. I am talking about the little red running icon on the default watch face. In a past firmware of the 935 it was showing the total of running+walking. I don’t know if that has been fixed in subsequent fw updates.

    • Tim Grose

      The default red running icon on the default watch face (and I haven’t changed) shows my actual mileage from actual timed “run” activities. I guess if I recorded a walk as a run it would include that too.

    • Marios

      OK, great, thank you Tim grose!

  181. Dirk Kotzé


    Will my Polar H10 strap work with the new FR945? I currently have a V800 + H10 strap and wanted to upgrade to Vantage V…. But I think I might have been convinced that the Garmin is the better option. Would like to use the Polar strap with it.

    Regards Dirk

  182. Without rectangular shape?? Why? I don’t understand designer’s sense of beauty.
    Garmin 920xt remains the only beautiful sport watch…

  183. Iannelli Massimo

    of course it is bit toward Garmin, as usual 🙂 (sponsor?). in the comparison chart, I do not see the functions that the suunto 9 has and the garmin does Not, like Advanced battery management !

  184. Matthias

    How bright is the LED at wearing during sleeping if SPO2 is measured?
    Can my better one be disturbed by it?

    • sue

      because the watch is against your skin its not bright, and also if the watch is tight enough to wrist, it does not disturb my better one

  185. Jonathan Wilkes

    Just ordered to replace my Fenix 3 (battery isn’t as good as it used to be) via your Clever Training UK link.

  186. Hussam

    I wish certain software features, like the revamped Race Predictor is available for older watches (Fenox 5+ et al).

  187. Carl Struyk

    Great review, Ray! I’m considering moving back to the FR range (from the Fenix range) and was wondering what the build quality feels like. As a daily watch, as most of us will wear it, does it feel ‘cheaper’?

  188. Francesco

    It’s a bit disappointing, although understandable, that Garmin doesn’t release an update with the new software-based features for the last series of watches too (FR935 and Fenix 5). But what about giving the opportunity to purchase a software update for those who is interested into?
    I’m a happy owner of FR935 and the new version doesn’t have features (for me, I’m not at all interested in music, payments, maps, etc) that would make me consider to upgrade my watch, but it would be nice to have these new training loads metrics for example, and I am willing to pay something for it. So some dozen of money are better then nothing, right? Garmin can you hear?

    • Trevor

      That is something that might fit well to Garmin push of Garmin App Store; new CIQ Store could became to *Garmin Play* of Garmin stuff.

      Maybe they can open the platform (new CIQ Platform API is already step to that direction) to enable third parties to bring their analytical engines available if FB is not willing to sell after sale license upgrades. After all most of the algorithms behind analytics are based on published peer reviewed studies, that’s why we have already plenty of CIQ apps available that calculates some set of analytical values. It is more to take the published algorithms and develop one consistent approach that offers actionable feedback to user. So far the market has been B2B, so FB customers are manufacturers not consumers.

  189. Derek

    Thanks for a great review. How does the GPS accuracy of the 945 compare to the accuracy of the Fenix 5 Plus?

  190. maikkeli


    what’s Garmins maps policy? If supposing one would for example buy both Edge 530 & 945, would it be possible to buy one with European maps and one with US maps and use them across devices freely? Hints?

    • Tim Grose

      I’ve put some UK OS maps on my 945 (via the Garmin BirdsEye facility) and it is only licensed for one device. So I would have to buy them again for an Edge. There are options to acquire free maps, like OSM ones, however. Ray did an article on it.

    • Paul S.

      There was a time when Garmin was far less anal about their maps. When I first bought City Nav, I could get keys to use it on up to 3 devices, and the TOPO US 2008 I bought from Garmin was DRM free (and not routable, so I needed both TOPO and City Nav on my Edge 705). They’ve become completely ridiculous about maps, and I always put OSM derived maps on my Garmin sports devices with mapping capabilities these days. My wife’s Nuvi came with lifetime City Nav, so I still use them there, and I use them (separate download) on the in dash navigator in my 2016 Honda Pilot. (I’d much rather have Apple’s CarPlay, which Honda has since turned to and which I’ve used in rentals.)

  191. Jerome Learman

    I have the tri-HR and the swim-HR monitors that came with the 920. I skipped the 935 but want to get the 945. Is there any reason to get the bundle as it looks like it comes with the same heart rate monitors I already have for $150 more? Is this correct or am I missing anything? Basically no change in the HR straps since the 920?

    Thank you for the review!!

    • Guillermo Guerini

      You only need to buy the watch. The straps you have are the same ones that come with the 945 tri-bundle. I was looking forward to getting the bundle IF they were updated like the recently release HRM-DUAL (Bluetooth + ANT+). Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

      Sometimes I don’t understand companies. They could have added Bluetooth support to those two HRM. That would be a great selling point. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • Stuart

      I have no doubt that Garmin is working on Bluetooth support for the HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim. It’s too obvious an update, given that they’v rolled out Bluetooth on multiple other sensors.

      But I’m guessing that the sticking point and delay is with the store-and-forward approach they use for swimming heart rate. If Bluetooth doesn’t have a formal specification for that, they might need to get one defined before they release a product. If they haven’t updated those straps in, say, twelve months, then sure, pound on them by all means. Right now, I think that harshing on them is a little premature.

    • Tim Grose

      Maybe but would have thought store and forward is mainly for your Garmin watch though and clearly that does not matter about Bluetooth connections. Personally I use an HRM-Tri as prefer the accuracy (well most of the time) over OHR but with all watches now with OHR I doubt HR straps are hot sellers any more if ever they were. Still would be nice when say am Zwifting on an iPad and don’t have my CABLE ANT+ convertor to hand but still want RD metrics on my Garmin. The HRM-Dual missed RD of course.

  192. Dave

    Where are you getting the training effect, training status and load in the app? I have an “old” 920xt but those stats don’t seem like they would be dependent on the new watch?

    • Dave

      Looks like someone else asked this as well…. sorry for the repeat question, but would still like to know.

    • MAGNUS

      I believe those are only ‘populated’ by supported devices (Forerunner 935, Fenix 5, Edge 520 and beyond).

    • Tim Grose

      Not sure I understand the question. I can see say Training Effect in the iOS Garmin Connect app in the details of my run today on a 945. Load Focus is also in the app.

  193. Huho

    I have the older fenix 5 (not plus). Using your compare tool it doesn’t seem to differ alot. If I am to upgrade can you highlight some features that differ except battery life, GPS chip, music and maps? Thx

  194. Tim

    Hi all, will the watch support Audible as a music Partner?

  195. Guillermo Guerini

    My watch has arrived! Bought from Clever Training US. Can’t wait to go for a run.

    • Brian

      That’s great! I’m happy for you but bummed for me, I placed my order at 830am on Tuesday (just 30min after you did) and mine is still showing as “pre-order.” I must’ve been over the cutoff on whatever small amount they received.

    • Guillermo Guerini

      I’m sorry to hear that! 🙁 They should receive more units soon.

    • Brian

      Ordered just 30 minutes later than Guillermo above and mine still shows as “pre-order” on my Clever Training VIP page.

      Related: Does anyone know the difference between regular expedited shipping and “VIP expedited shipping?” Both said 2-3 days but I chose VIP since I am a VIP member. Hopefully that isn’t delaying anything for some quirky reason.

  196. David

    “The idea here is that you’re trying to get the different types of training load properly aligned to the little ‘pills’ you see on the screen.”

    Ray in the image associated with the above, did you under shoot the anaerobic and low aerobic and way over shoot the high aerobic? Did I understand that correctly?

    • Rui Pereira

      Yes I think you are correct. One should try to have the training load (lenght of the bar), inside the little pill on all 3 categories.

    • Rui Pereira

      Looking again, I think the anaerobic load is within the “good range”, too little aerobic low and too much aerobic high.

    • The three for that one would be:

      Anaerobic: In the pill box target range, though a bit on the low side
      Aerobic high: Way overdid this, outside of range
      Aerobic low: Way underdid this, outside of range

  197. Chris watts

    I have the 945 and it will not read at all my heart rate. I have tattoos on my wrists and my 935 was perfect in reading it. So it’s going back and I will stick with my 935.

    • Tim Grose

      That’s odd. Are you seeing any green lights on the back? Sometimes just powering off a Garmin and on again like a PC reboot can fix these things. Otherwise maybe you have a dud.

    • Tim Grose

      PS just noticed in Settings that you can actually turn off Wrist Heart Rate completely! Check that too…

  198. My 945 arrived yesterday. I tried to resist as I only purchased my 935 last year (exactly s year ago!) after my first marathon. I started with the FR35 but got hooked on running and wanted more stats so upgraded to the 235. Then I wanted better battery life and told myself that I’d like to do a triathlon so treated myself to the 935.

    I haven’t taken it for a run yet but have spent a good few hours setting up my activities, settings and emergency contacts. The watch arrived almost fully charged, but I connected it to my PC to get it to 100%. I then customised my data fields and widgets before heading to bed. I have woken up today with my battery at 88% which is a little concerning. My 935 has amazing battery life so I’m hoping this is just because it hasn’t had a proper charge cycle yet.

  199. David

    I cannot get an spO2 reading reliably or in a short skirt space of time, and certainly not automatically.

    Any ideas what I am doing wrong?

    • Flavio

      It’s simple;
      i have 5X plus with spO2, you need to stay static motionless your body and arms try in the bed. Try it and work…

  200. Mike Salamon

    Hopefully Ray or anybody else will be able to come up with a quick answer or opinion on this one. Six days ago I decided to pull the trigger and I bought a Fenix 5X plus at a discount but it was still $699. I still have another week as a window if I wanted to return it. Seeing the 945 just came out at $100 cheaper than what I just paid with from what I can tell in the review, all the features of the Fenix in addition to a few new features, besides looks I guess, what would be the advantage(s) o