Garmin Forerunner 235 review – Buyer’s Guide

The Garmin Forerunner 235 is a running-specific watch. Following the Forerunner 225 release, this model has a larger screen and a host of additional capabilities.

The Forerunner 235 is a versatile machine. It looks like a watch on the surface, but it’s an all-in-one device that tracks and measures heart rate, sleep rate, and other fitness activities below.

It connects to your phone so that you can exchange messages, alerts, and calendar events. The possibilities are endless from there.

For my review, I used this GPS Running Watch for everything from jogs to naps and everything in between.

Garmin Forerunner 235 Unboxing

The battery was dead when I got the Garmin Forerunner 235. While it was charging, I used the Apple store’s free Garmin Connect mobile app.

Creating an account was straightforward and just required a few minutes of my time. It took a while for the Garmin’s battery to fully charge before I attempted to link it with my phone.

Garmin Forerunner 235 Key Features

The appearance, comfort, and functionality

Despite being a Garmin, the Forerunner 235 is one of the most attractive running watches you can purchase. Three color combinations are available, with the last two having a subtlety to them. They are black and ice blue, black and red, and black and grey.

Color screen with sharp and easy-to-read text in most lighting conditions, with ample real estate for up to four stats on two resizable panels, is standard.

There isn’t a touchscreen on this device, which may frustrate touchscreen fans. Instead, you’ll have to use the five side buttons to navigate through Garmin’s straightforward menu system.

Because you’ll need to wear it a bit tighter on your wrist to achieve the optimum accuracy from the built-in optical heart rate sensor, the perforated soft silicone strap provides for a more pleasant and less sweaty run.

Because it is so light (42g), this watch is one of the most comfortable to wear. However, some may not appreciate how plasticky it feels even though it has helped reduce the total weight by a few grams.

Optical heart rate monitor sensor

Garmin Forerunner 235

Although this technology has been present for some time, it was just recently integrated into a Garmin watch.

There are a few downsides, though. One is that ambient light may skew the readout of your heart rate. You must wear the watch tightly on your wrist to remedy this problem.

Garmin has made the optical sensor and bracelet as pleasant as possible by employing soft synthetic rubber and a rubber O-ring. However, those with slender wrists may still experience discomfort.

People with dark skin or tattoos may have issues with heart rate measurements, which is a second difficulty. However, this does not apply to everyone and is mainly a concern for those with darker skin or tattoos.

There’s a huge advantage to wrist heart rate technology (Heart Rate Measurements): NO CHEST STRAP REQUIRED! Good news, since such things may be inconvenient. When compared to a chest-strap HRM, accuracy isn’t quite as excellent, but not too far.

So, why did Garmin release an update so soon after the 225 was released? Their own technology!

This GPS Smartwatch makes use of Mio’s HRM technology, which it rents. The new Garmin Forerunner 235 features HRM technology that the company’s own engineers developed. Although no official justification was stated, it’s easy to infer that money had a role.

Forerunner 225’s heart rate technology was not bad. The real issue is how well Garmin’s HRM will hold up in the long term. That’s why they engineered their own HRMs.

ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors (connectivity)

A cycling mode for ANT+ Speed/Cadence sensors may be found in the Garmin FR230 & FR235, respectively. This implies that you may use it with any ANT+ sensor, regardless of whether it measures speed, cadence only, or both at the same time. Unfortunately, Bluetooth Smart sensors aren’t supported by this device (of any type)

My Experience with Garmin Forerunners 235

Overall Performance

While the Garmin Forerunner 235 is primarily designed as a running watch, I found it useful in other aspects of my day. You’ll get smart notifications of incoming calls, text messages, and calendar events even if you’re not wearing the watch. Even though you can’t respond, I found this functionality useful while I was stuck in a call queue.

The Garmin Forerunner 235 is primarily designed as a running watch, but it may be used as a fitness tracker for other daily activities.

The watch face is constantly visible, even when it is not being used. When it becomes dark, just pressing a button turns on a backlight to make things a little easier to see.

In addition to them, some buttons take you to a workout menu, let you navigate through them to find what you’re looking for, and pick alternatives.

Almost all of your needs can be met by the watch alone (but the Garmin Connect App has additional features). The watch displays your daily step counter, heart rate insights, including your current heart rate and your resting heart rate, as well as a chart of your previous four hours.

Weather and calendar data may be seen on the watch’s screens. You can also use the app’s wireless connectivity links to receive current weather conditions and forecasts. However, my watch informed me that an app connection was necessary before I could see them.

Garmin Forerunner 235

The Garmin app might need some improvement

To connect the devices, I followed the instructions on the phone’s screen, but my phone could not locate the Garmin. The tracker and the app still wouldn’t communicate, even after trying several debugging methods.

One day, I figured out something. Even though neither the app nor the supplied fast start instructions make it clear, you must first go into your phone’s Bluetooth settings and allow the devices to locate one another before connecting them. This was a new step for me since I’ve never had to take it with previous fitness equipment.

Following the first connection, hiccups were easily resolved, and data from the watch was automatically synchronized with the app after that.

After a few weeks of not using the Garmin, the Bluetooth unpaired again, and I had to reconnect the two devices via the phone’s settings.

Running Test

When it comes to monitoring runs, the Forerunner 235 does an excellent job. It tracks your location and distance traveled using GPS and GLONASS, Russia’s version of GPS.

It’s great for long-distance sports like cycling, too. Even whether you’re using a treadmill or a stationary bike, the built-in accelerometer will correctly monitor your progress.

Although it measures time and distance during workouts such as weight lifting, I felt that this wasn’t very useful. Despite this, you may still use it to keep track of your heart rate and time, as well as classify your exercise as “Other.”

After a workout, the watch will look at certain information, including the distance traveled, time spent exercising, and average speed. Detailed information is provided on a wide range of topics such as tempo, speed, and timing, with each of these sub-topics being broken down even further into specific metrics.

While I appreciated the ability to see so much information about my run, casual runners or those who don’t pay attention to the smallest details may find the experience taxing. However, I spent most of my time using the app.

A feature called Training Effect is also available via the app, which utilizes heart rate insights to determine the total influence of certain indoor activities on your training. It was eye-opening to see which of my runs improved my fitness instead of just maintaining it.

24/7 Heart Rate Monitoring

The built-in optical sensor on the Garmin Forerunner 235 measures changes in blood volume and hence your heart rate during ordinary usage and activity. The watch shows your current heart rate, and the Garmin Connect app has a graph that shows your heart rate over the day. You may see your heart rate on an extra graph under the activity details when you’re working out.

Your heart rate monitor zone shows your current heart rate states compared to your maximum heart rate. It shows you where you are in each of the five heart rate zones as you work out.

Increasing your heart rate causes your heart rate to jump from one zone to the next until it reaches 100 to 110 percent of your threshold heart rate. You can train more effectively if you know how hard you are pushing yourself during runs.

According to Garmin. Depending on how much action you put in, for example, it will measure more often when you first start. Measuring precision is also influenced by the Garmin’s fit and the user’s physical attributes (though they do not elaborate on this).

Garmin Forerunner 235

However, during one run, my Wrist-based Heart Rate monitor only measured once every few minutes and never got as high as I anticipated. I found this for most other exercises.

Sleep Tracking Features

The Forerunner 235 keeps track of your sleep patterns, including how long you spend awake, how much time you spend in deep sleep, and how much time you spend in light sleep. Moving from low to high movements is shown as a bar graph.

I found it interesting to see how my daily energy connected based on how well I slept. However, it doesn’t tell me how my sleep will affect my overall fitness. My sleep-wake patterns aren’t quite consistent throughout the night, but it’s safe to assume they track your consciousness pretty well.

Garmin Forerunner 235: Design and comfort

The Garmin Forerunner 235’s compact profile and lightweight pleased me. The silicone band, which is perforated all the way around, is also a favorite feature. To alter the band’s size, use the perforated holes as buckle adjustment holes.

When it comes to the watch’s UI, there’s a learning curve. To navigate the watch screen, I had to press several buttons. This might have been done more smoothly.

However, after some time, I became more familiar with the buttons and their functions. Although scrolling through options or going backward requires a lot of button-pushing, a touchscreen interface would have been considerably more convenient.

Change the device interface in the Garmin Connect app by going to the Connect IQ store. For various metrics, you may choose one of the many free watches interfaces available. So far, the interface selection, download, and synchronization went well.

Compatibility with third-party applications

There’s a ton of useful info and functions in Garmin Connect, the Forerunner’s complementary app. Even after a few months of regular usage, there were still a few surprises I didn’t know were possible.

It may be too much information for individuals who don’t want to go over every aspect of each exercise. Still, anybody who cares about data collection will like it.

Unfortunately, you’ll be restricted from using the app if you don’t have compatible devices. You should be able to use the Connect app on most modern smartphones, but there are certain system requirements that you should be aware of before installing the app.

You may be able to link your other favorite applications via the Garmin Connect app if you have them. The only third-party sites you can use right now are Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal, and Strava. Garmin’s website has further information.

Garmin Forerunner 235: Charging and Battery Life

You may charge this GPS Running Watch by attaching the watch’s USB connection to your computer. It takes roughly two hours to get discharged to fully recharged.

It should last up to nine days in smartwatch mode, and in GPS mode, it should last up to 11 hours training. Because it utilizes GPS mode while active, those who go on lengthy runs will have to recharge it more often.

With an active GPS signal, the Forerunner 235 lasts roughly an hour longer than the 225. If GPS and GLONASS are used, the travel time is reduced to around nine hours.

According to Garmin, the watch should last up to nine days in watch mode with alerts and heart rate enabled. I charge it once a week, but the frequency you run will determine how often you charge it.

The Forerunner 235 offers a power-saving mode to help you save battery life. This feature kicks in after a period of inactivity. Even with a few short runs, my Forerunner 235 lasted a little over a week.

If you spend too much time away from the home screen, the watch buzzes and counts down from 30 before returning you to it.

Waterproof of up to 50M Depth

The Garmin Forerunner 235 still worked well even after several sweat sessions and showers. In other words, it’s water-resistant up to a depth of 50 meters, and its pressure rating is 5 ATM. The rain, shower, and swimming are going to be OK, but deep diving isn’t.

Other Interesting Features of the Garmin Forerunner 235

The Forerunner 235 is loaded with functions when used in conjunction with the app. A stopwatch and an alarm clock are both possible uses for this device.

You may use it to check the weather and play music from your smartphone. Garmin LiveTrack lets loved ones and friends keep tabs on your progress throughout workouts and events.

When I lost my phone, the watch’s Find My Phone function came in handy several times.

Advanced workouts and courses may be created on the app. Track the mileage of your equipment by including things like shoes or bikes. If you agree to share your information with Gramin, you’ll learn how your activities compare to those of others your age and gender.

The Forerunner 235 is loaded with functions when used in conjunction with the app. The information I gleaned about my VO2 Max — a measure of cardiovascular fitness — was the most interesting to me.

Runners will like the race times predictor and recuperation counselor. It will tell you how long it will be until you can go for another run.


In my opinion, this GPS Running Watch is a standout among other fitness trackers. It has a clean, minimalistic look that I like.

Nowadays, many runners prefer using technology to aid them on their runs, so a good running watch is a must-have.

With the Forerunner 235, you can track distance traveled, running pace, average pace, current pace and lap pace, heart rate, as well as recovery periods.


For a while now, Garmin has been steadily upgrading its Connect smartphone software for Android and iOS. Based on your everyday actions, you may now get more tailored insights and feedback. Although the software has improved, it still falls short of what Fitbit and Jawbone have to offer.

Simply said, Garmin attempts to do too much with it. When it comes to setting up the gadget, there are just too many options to go through to discover what you’re looking for.

Luckily, Garmin devices have been in my possession for longer than everyone else’s in my community, and it took me a few minutes to find out how to deactivate or alter some functions.

There have also been a few problems with the app-to-watch connection. My workouts wouldn’t sync with the watch until I accessed the app first, which was inconvenient.

Occasionally, the watch would drop out of communication with the app for a few minutes before rejoining. Even though it didn’t happen very frequently, app connection remains a problem for Garmin.

Garmin Forerunner 235: Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, runners will appreciate this watch’s ability to help them understand and enhance their exercises.

If you prefer a simple interface, the Garmin may not be for you. I enjoy that it offers me comprehensive data of my activities throughout the day and runs.

The Forerunner 235 isn’t for those who like workouts like strength training or pilates. Nonetheless, if your goal is to become fitter and better at running, the Garmin Forerunner 235 is a great investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Garmin Forerunner 235 Worth the Cost?

In my opinion, this GPS Running Watch is well worth it. Even though it’s less expensive than more comprehensive timepieces like the Apple Watch, the extra features make it a better buy.

It’s also worth mentioning that you can get a comparable Garmin wristwatch with Garmin Pay and up to 500 songs (that can be played over Bluetooth headphones) for the same price.

Is Garmin Forerunner 235 Better than Fitbit Charge 3?

When it came down to it, I preferred the Garmin Forerunner 235 over the Fitbit Charge 3 for various reasons and circumstances. Garmin is my go-to watch for running.

My runs’ data is more detailed than what I get from my Fitbit Charge 3. However, I prefer the Charge 3 for day-to-day use because of its simplicity. For non-distance-based activities like weight lifting, yoga, or fitness courses, the Fitbit is a better option.

If running, cycling activities, or swimming are your favored forms of exercise, the Fitbit may be a better choice than the Garmin since it still tracks runs well. Although the Garmin Forerunner is more expensive than the Fitbit, this price difference makes sense when comparing the two devices’ sophistication.

What Differs Forerunner 235 from its other generations?

The most significant change is the reduction in physical size while at the same time increasing functionality. The 235 is lighter and has a larger screen (with color display) than previous Garmin watches. Garmin claims it’s the thinnest watch they’ve ever created.

With the exception of battery life (which I’ll discuss in a moment), the Forerunner 235 is identical to the Forerunner 230 in appearance and functionality. The 235 also has new Forerunner-exclusive capabilities, such as time/speed/distance, sophisticated workouts, and activity monitoring.

Garmin estimates the 235’s battery life in full activity mode to be 11 hours (using GPS with heart rate).

This is significantly faster than the 225 and 220, which take 10 hours to complete the task at hand. However, due to the new HRM technology, actual battery life may differ greatly from what Garmin promises.

You might also be intersted in our Test and review of the Gramin Forerunner 245. Check it out.

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