However, the Forerunner 235 is much cheaper than it used to be, so if you want a good quality running watch that doesn’t break the bank, you could uncover a hidden gem in the FR235.
To help you decide which watch is better suited to your needs, we are going to unpack all the key similarities and all the key differences, with some pretty strong recommendations at the end.
Let’s get stuck in.
Forerunner 235 vs Forerunner 245 - Key Similarities
Forerunner 235 vs Forerunner 245 - Key Differences
FR235 vs FR245 - Sports Modes
It’s actually really difficult to find all the sports modes for the FR235. In the table below, we’ve listed all the modes that we can find for each watch.
|Forerunner 235 - Sports Modes||Forerunner 245 - Sports Modes|
|01) Indoor Running||01) Cardio Training|
|02) Outdoor Running||02) Elliptical Training|
|03) Indoor Cycling||03) Stair Stepping|
|04) Outdoor Cycling||04) Yoga|
|05) Cardio Mode||05) Outdoor Running|
|06) Treadmill Running|
|07) Indoor Track Running|
|09) Indoor Cycling|
|10) Strength Training|
|11) Trail Running|
|12) Indoor Rowing|
|13) Pool Swimming|
Important Features Unique to Forerunner 245
Music Storage & Apps - FR245 Only
The Garmin Forerunner 245 comes in a music version and a non-music version, which costs about 50 dollars less.
This is one of the key selling points of the FR245. You essentially get 3.5GB of music storage (about 500 songs) and you can also play music through the following apps:
Advanced Running Dynamics - FR245 Only
This is one of the best features of the Garmin Forerunner 245. When paired with a suitable accessory (Garmin HRM-Run, Garmin HRM-Tri or Garmin Running Dynamics Pod), you can unlock the following key statistics.
- Ground Contact Time (the time your foot spends on the ground with each stride)
- Ground Contact Balance (Symmetry between left and right foot)
- Vertical Oscillation (degree of ‘bounce’ in your running motion)
- Vertical Ratio (the cost-benefit ratio with stride length)
- Cadence (Real time)
- Stride Length (Real time)
Of the metrics above, measuring and improving your vertical oscillation and vertical ratio stats can literally make you a more efficient runner.
Pulse Oximeter - FR245 Only
The point of a pulse oximeter is to measure your bloody oxygen saturation levels. The problem here is that unless you live in a super high altitude environment, this feature isn’t actually all that useful.
Also, certain reviewers have pointed out that the Pulse Oximeter on Garmin devices isn’t all that accurate.
The main benefit for most people is that Garmin are using the Pulse Oximeter to help calculate your body battery score (more info on this feature below).
Body Battery Score - FR245 Only
Garmin first introduced this feature in 2018, and now it’s becoming a staple offering in their GPS watches and activity trackers.
The idea of a body battery score is pretty simple. Garmin are essentially adding up all your most important metrics (sleep, resting heart rate, recovery status, stress levels), and using that info to calculate a score for your overall energy levels (body battery).
In theory, it’s an awesome idea that can help you see the impact of pushing yourself too hard, not getting enough sleep, or facing too much stress at work. The only issue is that it isn’t necessarily the most accurate metric in the world.
Even so, we think it’s a pretty cool feature that is likely to be refined by Garmin over time. Ultimately, it’s nice to know that the FR245 will always be able to calculate this measurement.
Garmin Coach Training Plans - FR245 Only
For people who take their running seriously, this is one of the biggest strengths of the Forerunner 245. Like the Nike Running App, Garmin Coach creates custom training plans, based on your target race pace.
Also, there are actually three different coaches to choose from, and they are all highly respected runners. It’s actually quite amazing when you think about it. You are literally gaining access to running plans built by Jeff Galloway, Greg McMillan and Amy Parkerson-Mitchell.
To use a term that Strava users will appreciate, Kudos to Garmin for introducing this benefit into their ecosystem.
Pool Swimming - FR245 Only
No need for in-depth analysis here. The Forerunner 245 tracks pool swimming. The Forerunner 235 does not. This could be a dealbreaker who train in the pool regularly.
Way More Sports Modes - FR245
We’ve already listed all the different sports modes in the table above. The point is, the Forerunner 245 has 13 sports modes, while the FR235 only has 5. It’s just another way in which the FR245 really outshines its predecessor.
Much longer GPS Battery Life - FR245
Garmin have officially transition to GPS chip sets, which has unlocked some serious wins in terms of GPS battery life. The bullet points below should make this pretty clear:
- FR235 GPS Battery Life = 11 Hours
- FR245 GPS Battery Life = 24 Hours
So you literally get double the GPS battery life by upgrading to the FR245.
Much Better Screen - FR245
So which one should you buy?
If you’ve read this far it should be pretty clear that the Forerunner 245 knocks the FR235 out of the park.
They are literally leagues apart in more than 10 meaningful ways. The real question here is whether or not you should consider the FR235 if you’re on a tight budget. In my opinion, it comes down to this:
- If you want a dedicated Garmin running watch with the best combination of features, design and affordability – FR245
- If you want the best Garmin running watch for less than $200 – FR45 (Yes. The FR45 is better than the FR235)
- If you want a super affordable Garmin running watch that still has an impressive array of features – FR35 (it’s not new, but it’s very good value for money).