Garmin Forerunner 235

9.0
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Buying a watch nowadays is not as easy as it used to be, nor is it the watch what it used to be. The concept of time hasn’t changed, but the way we measure time and the devices that measure time have been drastically modified, making the watches a complete package of a technologically developed unit that measuring the time is just one more function among the other advanced features. And this is where Garmin Forerunner 235 steps in. 

One of the companies that heralded the new era of wristwatches was Garmin, one of the largest companies that bring breakthrough innovations and wearable technology to the sports, outdoor, aviation, marine and automotive markets. Garmin watches integrate a wide range of technologies that work together to deliver the most useful functions of a wearable device, so calling them ‘watches’ would be an understatement as they are much more than ‘time tellers’. 

Garmin watches have been on the market for quite some time, and with every new release, you get something new. From measuring your steps and calories burned, to heart rate monitoring, health stats, to extending the functions relevant to different specific sports. Most of them include GPS tracking and integrate smart functions which, when connected with your phone, take up the functions of your smartphone. 

Garmin has always been ahead of time by integrating futuristic functions into their products and that can be seen from the present point of you into the design of their older models. Garmin Forerunner 235 is such a model, released about five years ago, it is still a popular buy among athletes today. Its very advanced mechanism and technology that is integrated into its construction, enable it to compete with some of the latest releases of many other companies. The versatility it is characterized with is seen in its multipurpose in a wide range of sports, and this variety is mostly the feature that makes it attractive among buyers. 

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Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros

Elevate heart rate wrist technology provides 24/7 heart rate tracking

It counts distance, steps, calories, and monitors your sleep

It synchronizes with the smartphone via Bluetooth for smart notification

It allows automatic uploads to Garmin Connect and live social media sharing

VO2 Max calculates the total volume of oxygen available during an activity

It works in four different sports modes

Cons

It doesn't feature many golf-related options

It is an older model

Design

In the past, sports watches had the reputation of being repulsive in terms of looks, however, the last few years have brought a huge improvement in this respect. And when you consider that Forerunner 235 was released more than four years ago, one would expect a not very appealing model. However, you remember that we said in the introduction that Garmin has always been a forerunner of modernity, so this model is definitely a forerunner in terms of looks.

One of the modern features which are characteristic for watches of today is the large display design and this is exactly what Garmin Forerunner boasts. The crisp, bright color screen and the silicone strap make it one of the most lightweight watches out there and you will hardly notice that you are wearing it. This is one of the most required features among athletes because it does come annoying when the watch you are wearing makes its presence known. Plus, silicone straps are perfect for doing sports as sweating doesn’t make them feel wet and uncomfortable. There are three color combinations golfers can choose from: black and red, black and grey, and black and frost blue with a unisex design.

The rounded classic face with 1.23” diameter is well-organized and easy to read even when exposed to the brightest light and it has two customizable screens which display up to four stats. There are five buttons that navigate the watch, three on the left side and two on the right and it is fairly easy to navigate through the menu. This might come as a disappointment for touch-screen lovers, as this option is void from this model.

Optical Heart Rate Sensor

One of the best ways to measure your well-being is to track your heart rate through the activity you are doing, and GPS/smartwatches have been brought to perfection with the integration of optical heart rate sensors. It reads directly from your wrist, as it is positioned on the bottom of the display. This, however, can be a slight problem as it can protrude in the skin if you wear it tightly for more accurate measurements. Yet, this should not be a problem whatsoever as you can pair it with ANT+ chest straps as they are proven to be very accurate.

Many users claim that the continuous heart rate tracking that performs 24/7 is one of the most accurate that you’ll find on the market and that is actually valid for all Garmin watches that feature the proprietary Elevate heart rate technology which actually provides the opportunity to measure your heart rate without a strap. The readings are measured and displayed in real-time with impeccable accuracy.

The Resting Heart Rate (RHR) tracking delivers extremely useful tips for overall health and fitness. It is one of the best in alarming users of incoming colds, potential over-training or physical incapability to perform certain training. Plus, it is very easy to navigate as it works with the click of the button.

Another health-related beneficial feature is the VO2 Max reading which is powered by the optical heart rate sensor. This means that golfers get a very detailed indication of their current health state, progress and fitness level by measuring the maximum volume of oxygen that they can use which is calculated in milliliters per kilo of mass body weight in a minute. These tests are usually carried out in labs, so having them delivered on the display on your wristwatch is a huge advancement in assisting athletes to reach their full potential.

Tracking and Metrics

When it comes to sport modes, there are four different sport modes: Run Indoor, Cycle, Run and Other and two data screens are fully customizable to maximum four fields so that users can make their own personalized display for each of them.

When it comes to outdoor sports such as running or cycling the tracking is provided by the integrated GPS which gets fast fixes and gets very easily connected to the device. There’s an onboard accelerometer that tracks the indoor runs while GLONASS adds on the precision of the GPS. Perhaps Forerunner 235 is not the most accurate Garmin watch but it is totally reliable with small deviations which are often considered to be insignificant. Besides the speed and the distance, you get consistent information regarding your pace, tempo, calories, cadence and heart rate zone. The audio and vibration alerts are customizable and they are very helpful in guiding athletes on target pace and appropriate heart rate.

The watch also has memory for storing 200 activity hours which can be compared with your current performance data, even though you can connect the watch to Garmin Connect via Bluetooth.

Performance

If you thought that the Forerunner 235 is a running watch you will get surprises from all the extra features it has, especially the ability to learn the user’s daily patterns so that it can guide him/her through the activation process and set goals that need to be reached. Plus, it is able to predict the time athletes need to recover and to assess the overall training impact. You can see the impact of your training with scoring which ranges from 0 to 5 and in case your heart rate is resting that day you might want to skip your training since it indicates that it isn’t the best day to get engaged into physical activity.

Another interesting feature is also worth mentioning, and that is sleep rate monitor which assesses the quality of your sleep. However, this feature still has many things to wish for and it isn’t at its best. Yet, this feature on its own can’t really be a deal-breaker, as the overall performance it offers is still very trustworthy.

Garmin Connect

Multisport watches have become great smartwatches, and this is what athletes love about them. Garmin has been working hard to make Garmin Connect more user-friendly app and they have succeeded greatly in that, however, if you are buying Forerunner solely because you need a smartwatch, you might need to look somewhere else. Although it is not a pompous watch at all, it does feature some nice touches like automatic synchronization and update of your personal information on any new Garmin device including this one. In addition to this, it allows you to create your own training calendar which is then synchronized too and which will serve as a reminder for your planned activities and your subsequent sessions, including the length of your warm-up.

In addition to Garmin Connect synchronization, your training sessions can also be synchronized with Strava and there is the option to compete and outperform other Garmin or Strava users since you can have direct access to the local leaderboards.

However, when it comes to the smart functions, the Bluetooth synchronization is a very useful feature so that you immediately transfer and save all your data so that you can further compare. The app platform Garmin Connect IQ allows users to download widgets, apps, data fields and watch faces and customize it in accordance with your needs. One feature that is particularly useful for golfers is the possibility to download golf courses through the app and track your performance through the corresponding app.

Smart Functions

Even though we mentioned that its smart functions are rather limited, it does feature the basic and the most needed functions. So, when paired via Bluetooth with your smartwatch it will notify you about the received emails, messages, social media notifications, and live tracking. It connects with Spotify and allows you to control the audio player and it can be set to deliver audio announcements. As one of the most distinguishing features is the possibility to read whole messages, not just the subject line, and to set it in Do Not Disturb mode to allow you to do your activities uninterruptedly.

Battery Life

Since Garmin Forerunner 235 is still considered to be a watch above everything, so users have the possibility to use it in a watch mode. When used in this function, then the battery life is about 9 days, while the minimum is about 11 hours with the GPS function always on and the continuous heart rate monitoring. When used with random GPS and continuous heart rate monitor, the battery life spans from 3 to 5 days. This is certainly not impressive as there are Garmin watches that boast an incredible duration of more than 30 days in watch mode, but it isn’t a disastrous feature either. Charging is carried out with its special charging cable.

Key Features

Garmin Forerunner 235 is an excellent choice for all those athletes who strive for better and more organized performance with reliable tracking and ability to benefit from the accurate heart rate monitor and the guidance it delivers, as the watch has the capacity to provide the users with information regarding their overall well-being, heart rate and performance. The smart function with the smartphone synchronization and the Garmin Connect provide full customization through the use of the apps and widgets as well as enable users to receive the most important notifications from their mobile phones.

Key Features

  • Elevate heart rate wrist technology provides 24/7 heart rate tracking

  • It counts distance, steps, calories, and monitors your sleep

  • It synchronizes with the smartphone via Bluetooth for smart notification

  • It allows automatic uploads to Garmin Connect and live social media sharing

  • VO2 Max calculates the total volume of oxygen available during an activity

  • It works in four different sports modes


Bottom Line

Despite the fact that Garmin Forerunner 235 has been primarily designed to meet the needs of runners, it can still be considered a good option for anyone who appreciates the high quality that comes from Garmin and the reliable performance it delivers. You might not find all the bells and whistles that the latest Garmin watches offer, however, this one is particularly attractive nowadays as its initially high price has been reduced to a bargain.