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
Garmin Forerunner 935 vs Forerunner 945 - Key Differences
FR935 vs FR945 Sports & Activity Modes
|Forerunner 935||Forerunner 945|
|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|
|XC Skiing||XC Skiing|
|Stand Up Paddleboarding||Stand Up Paddleboarding|
|Golf Mode||Golf Mode|
|Indoor Track Running|
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
- 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:
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?
- Music Storage
- Pulse Oximeter
- TOPO Maps
- Payments from watch
- Body Battery Score
- Upgraded wrist-HRM
- Improved GPS Battery LIfe
- 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.