Garmin Forerunner 35 vs Forerunner 45 – Product Comparison

Garmin Forerunner 35 vs Forerunner 45 – Product Comparison

The Garmin Forerunner 35 is one of the best selling GPS running watches that has ever been made.

However, it’s no longer Garmin’s No.1 budget GPS Watch. 

That honor now belongs to the Garmin Forerunner 45, which includes some solid new features, a better looking design, and a colour screen (thank goodness).

But before we dive into this product comparison, let’s take a look at where these watches sit, in the Garmin Forerunner family. 

Entry Level Forerunner Mid-Level Forerunner Advanced Forerunner
Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 630
Forerunner 45 Forerunner 245 Forerunner 645

As you can see, the Forerunner 35 and the Forerunner 45 are both budget friendly GPS watches catering for people that don’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles that Garmin has to offer. 

But make no mistake. Both the FR35 and the FR45 can power you through an ultramarathon with ease. 

Now let’s unpack the key differences between these two watches. 

Garmin Forerunner 35 vs Forerunner 45 - Key Similarities


Wrist-based HRM


Indoor + Outdoor Running

Running Dynamics

Outdoor Cycling

Cardio Mode

Waterproof (5ATM)


ANT+ Connectivity

Smart Notifications

V02 Max Estimator

Garmin Forerunner 35 vs Forerunner 45 - Key Differences

Screen Resolution

128x128 px

240x240 px

Colour Screen


Male & Female Versions

Garmin Coach (Training Plans)

Multiple Cardio Options

Indoor Cycling

Custom Watch Faces via Connect IQ

Safety Tracking (Incident Detection)

Visual Summary of Key Features

Forerunner 35 Product Features

Forerunner 45 Product Features

Features Unique to the Forerunner 45

Garmin Coach - FR45 Only

The Garmin Coach feature gives you customized training plans for all the most popular running distances, including:

  • 5K Training Plans
  • 10K Training Plans
  • 21K Training Plans
  • 42K Training Plans
What’s more, you can also choose training plans from 3 different running coaches, namely: Jeff Galloway, Greg McMillan and Amy Parkerson Mitchell.
In my opinion, the addition of custom training plans was a very smart decision from Garmin. Apps like Runtastic, Runkeeper and MapMyRun charge users for this particular feature, and now Garmin Forerunner 45 users can access this technology without paying for an app. 

GLONASS & GALILEO Satellite Technology - FR45

Even though most people will be perfectly fine the GPS tracking only, it’s reassuring to have GLONASS and Galileo tracking built-in to the watch. 

In years gone by, GLONASS and Galileo tracking were reserved for Garmin’s more expensive units, but now they are including it in entry-level units. The Forerunner 45 is the perfect example of this. 

Colour Screen - FR45

If there’s one area where the FR35 show its age, it’s the lifeless black and white screen.

This stands in stark contrast to the Forerunner 45, which has a crisp color screen that makes the unit feel a lot more modern. 

Personally, I wouldn’t let this sway the decision too much, but it is a lot more pleasant looking at a color screen, rather than a dreary black and white equivalent. 

Custom Watch Faces

This is a feature worth celebrating. Garmin have finally introduced custom watch faces to their entry level running watch (FR45). 

Together with the enhanced design and color screen, the addition of custom watch faces completes a series of visual upgrades that will keep the Forerunner 45 looking sharp for years to come. 

Male & Female Version

Garmin, Suunto, and Polar are guilty of designing GPS watches with a male target market in mind.

Fortunately they haven’t repeated this mistake with the Forerunner 45, which has a female version(38mm), and a male version (42mm).

This is a good move from Garmin. A lot of women prefer a smaller watch face, and now they have this choice with the FR45.

Multiple Cardio Modes

The difference in cardio modes with the Forerunner 35 and the Forerunner 45 is best told using a simple table. 

FR35 Cardio Modes FR45 Cardio Modes
General Cardio General Cardio
Elliptical Training
Stair Stepping
Yoga Mode (added via App)

Safety Tracking (Incident Detection)

This particular feature has been baked into the Forerunner 45, 245 and 945. 

Once your phone is paired with your watch, it has the ability to detect and communicate ‘incidents’ via the watch directly. You can prompt emergency assistance manually (using the watch), and it can also do it on your behalf (automatic incident detection).

I don’t know exactly how the automatic incident detection works, but I think it basically detects a movement anomaly (ie going from 35km/h to 0km/h instantly) and a heart rate anomaly and then alerts your emergency contacts.

So which one should you buy?

I think it’s pretty clear to see that the Forerunner 45 is technically a better watch than the Forerunner 35. 

It has significantly more features, it’s better looking, and the screen has been upgraded.

To summarize this whole article in 2 short sentences: 

  1. The Forerunner 35 is worth getting if you’re on a tight budget and you can find a really good deal.
  2. The Forerunner 45 is worth investing in if you want the better watch, and you don’t mind paying about $70 more for the extra features. 

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