Garmin Forerunner 935 vs Forerunner 945 – Product Comparison

Garmin Forerunner 935 vs Forerunner 945 – Product Comparison

For about two years, the Garmin Forerunner 935 was the best triathlon watch on the market.

However, the Forerunner 945 has now entered the scene, and it’s packing some serious upgrades on its predecessor. 

In this post, we are going to unpack all the key similarities and all the key differences between these two high-end multisport GPS watches. Let’s get stuck in. 

Garmin Forerunner 935 vs Forerunner 945 - Key Similarities

GPS + GLONASS

Wrist HRM

24/7 Activity Tracking

Sleep Tracking

Indoor + Outdoor Running

Indoor + Outdoor Swimming

Indoor + Outdoor Cycling

Triathlon (Multisport) Mode

Golf Mode

Over 20 Sports/Activity Modes

Smart Notifications

Bluetooth, ANT+ & WiFi

V02 Max Estimates

Garmin Coach Training Plans

Advanced Running Dynamics

with Accessory

with Accessory

Garmin Running Power

with Accessory

with Accessory

Garmin Forerunner 935 vs Forerunner 945 - Key Differences

Music Storage & Apps

Contactless Payments

Pulse Oximeter

Upgraded Wrist-HRM

Body Battery Score

Training Load Focus

TOPO Maps

Galileo Satellite

GPS Battery Life

24 Hours

36 Hours

FR935 vs FR945 Sports & Activity Modes

Forerunner 935 Forerunner 945
Running Running
Treadmill Running Treadmill Running
Trail Running Trail Running
Indoor Cycling Indoor Cycling
Outdoor Cycling Outdoor Cycling
Mountain Biking Mountain Biking
Pool Swimming Pool Swimming
Open Water Swimming Open Water Swimming
Indoor Rowing Indoor Rowing
Outdoor Rowing Outdoor Rowing
Strength Training Strength Training
Cardio Training Cardio Training
Hiking Hiking
Climbing Climbing
Skiing Skiing
Snowboarding Snowboarding
XC Skiing XC Skiing
Stand Up Paddleboarding Stand Up Paddleboarding
Jumpmaster Jumpmaster
Tactical Tactical
Golf Mode Golf Mode
Triathlon Triathlon
Stair Stepping
Yoga
Indoor Track Running
Kayaking
Elliptical
Garmin Forerunner 935
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Garmin Forerunner 945 Black
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Features Unique to Forerunner 945

Music Storage & Apps - FR945 Only

This is one of several major technological upgrades that has been packed into the Forerunner 945

Like the FR645, the Fenix 5 Plus and the Vivoactive 3 Music, the FR945 gives you the option to store music, or play music through apps like Deezer and Spotify. 

It’s worth pointing out that the Forerunner 945 gives you 6.5GB’s of music storage memory, which is almost double the music storage memory of the Fenix 5 Plus. You can learn more about the differences between the FR945 and the Fenix 5 Plus here

Payments from Watch - FR945 Only

This difference is self-explanatory. The Forerunner 945 gives you the ability to make payments directly from your watch using NFC technology. 

This is a pretty nifty feature to have. It’s the kind of feature that you would expect to have on a high-end smartwatch, and Garmin is meeting this expectation with the FR945.

Pulse Oximeter - FR945 Only

The inclusion of a pulse oximeter is one of the key differences between the Forerunner 945 and the Forerunner 935. 

The primary purpose of a pulse oximeter is to measure your blood oxygen saturation levels. 

However, Garmin are also using the data from the wrist-based HRM and the pulse oximeter to improve stress tracking, sleep tracking and your body battery score (more on this below). 

Body Battery Score - FR945 Only

Garmin’s body battery score combines your sleep quality, stress levels, heart rate data and training recovery metrics into one holistic measurement.

On paper, it’s one of Garmin’s most innovative developments in recent years. It could also be called your ‘physical health score’, given how many factors it combines into a single measurement. 

Admittedly the jury is still out on whether or not this measurement is reliable.  Some Garmin users swear by it, while others aren’t too phased, and don’t really trust the readings.

Personally, I would classify Body Battery score as a nice bonus feature that can help you keep tabs on your physical health at all times.

Upgraded Wrist HRM - FR945 Only

When Garmin released the MARQ series to the world earlier this year, they introduced their new and improved Garmin elevate wrist-HRM. 

Called Garmin Elevate V3, the new optical heart rate has an extra light for the pulse oximeter, and it should also give you slightly improved heart rate readings. 

Admittedly their will always be some concerns with the accuracy of wrist based heart rate readings. The point is that if you invest in the Forerunner 945, you are getting the best that Garmin has to offer in this particular respect.

TOPO Maps - FR945 Only

The FR945 is the first Forerunner to include TOPO Map technology. 

This is insanely powerful route navigation technology that was previously limited to the Garmin Fenix Range. It’s super useful for pretty much all the adventure endurance sports, namely: 

  • Trail Running
  • Mountain Biking
  • Hiking
  • Adventure Racing

Training Load Focus - FR945 Only

Before we go further here, it’s worth pointing out that the Forerunner 935 and the Forerunner 945 give you training load metrics. 

The key difference here is that the FR945 unlocks training load focus. 

This is basically categorical breakdown of your training data, which shows exactly how much time you spend training in low aerobic, high aerobic, and anaerobic states. 

The key to this benefit is that finding the right balance between these training states can help you improve your strength and cardiovasular fitness levels over time. This feature is better suited to advanced athletes that are looking to achieve new PB’s at every opportunity. If that sounds like you, the training load focus feature could come in handy.

Galileo Satellite Tracking - FR945 Only

Galileo tracking is literally the European equivalent of GPS (American technology) and GLONASS (Russian technology). 

Personally, I think it’s the least meaningful difference between these two watches, given that the both of them have GPS & GLONASS tracking, which is more than enough for most people. 

GPS Battery Life Improvements - FR945 Only

By switching to Sony GPS chips, Garmin have unlocked some serious wins in terms of battery life. You can see the difference in battery life very clearly in the table below: 

FR935 Battery Life FR945 Battery Life
Smartwatch Mode - 2 Weeks Smartwatch Mode - 2 Weeks
GPS Battery - 24 Hours GPS Battery - 36 Hours
UltraTrac Battery - 50 Hours UltraTrac Battery - 60 Hours
GPS + Music - 10 Hours
Garmin Forerunner 935
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Garmin Forerunner 945 Black
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So which one should you buy?

There’s no question that the Forerunner 945 is the hands down winner of this product battle. It improves on the FR935 in more than 10 meaningful ways, and it even smashes the Fenix 5 Plus in terms of overall features.

But that doesn’t mean you should automatically discard the 935, especially if you’re on a tight budget. In my opinion, it comes down to this:

  • If you want the best triathlon watch that Garmin has ever made – FR945
  • If you want a mulisport watch with more features than the Fenix 5 Plus – FR945
  • If you just need a really solid triathlon watch, without payments or music – FR935
  • If you’re a triathlete on a tight budget, but you still want top quality – FR935

Any last words of wisdom?

If you still aren’t sure which one to choose, this is another way to make the decision. Calculate the difference in price between the two watches (approximately $200 dollars at the time of the launch). Then ask yourself if it’s worth paying the extra money (about $200) for the following features:
 
  1. Music Storage
  2. Pulse Oximeter
  3. TOPO Maps
  4. Payments from watch
  5. Body Battery Score
  6. Upgraded wrist-HRM
  7. Improved GPS Battery LIfe
  8. Galileo Satellite Tracking

So you are basically paying about $25 for each of the features listed above. Personally, I would only go for the FR935, if I could find a really good deal. 

If you can’t find a bargain on the 935, then just take the hit, and go for the best triathlon smartwatch that Garmin has ever made, in the form of the Forerunner 945.

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