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Garmin Forerunner 235 Review

Garmin’s line of Forerunner smartwatches are—as can be inferred from its name—specifically geared towards runners. Heart rate monitoring, GPS, and water resistance are all par for the course. Also functioning as an activity tracker, it logs other sports and activities along the way, and can also provide notifications and other features found in similar devices.


Quick Take

There is a lot to like about the Forerunner 235. While it’s more expensive than many of the activity trackers and smartwatches on the market, it’s well worth the extra investment. For serious runners, the Forerunner 235 will give you everything you want out of a running watch. Garmin has long been a go-to brand for those wanting something more rugged and durable, though in trade their performance in the battery life category leaves room for improvement. The units do come with a one-year consumer limited warranty.


GPS Accuracy
Resistant to water
Smaller watch; bigger display


No multi-sport. The watch is best fit for runners.
Battery life not as great as the newer models (20+hours)


Garmin’s devices all have excellent GPS tracking, and the Forerunner 235 is no exception. It boasts GPS and satellite GLONASS, which gives GPS features a boost in remote/limited GPS areas. This feature helps you track your paths, and find new ones. It also helps measure things like pace and distance much more accurately.

It locates your position and connects quickly, which is a nice improvement over many of the GPS running watches out there that take a while to locate.


Wrist-Based Heart Rate

The Forerunner 235 uses optical heart rate tracking, unlike the Forerunner 230 which doesn’t include this functionality. The 235’s heart rate (HR) monitor helps the watch figure out your VO2 Max score. Some of the earlier reviews of the 235 have questioned the accuracy of its HR monitor, but that’s effectively par for the course with any fitness tracker or smartwatch. It is handy as data regarding the intensity of your training, however if absolute accuracy is key, nothing will beat a chest-mounted heart rate sensor.

Even if it’s not completely accurate, the data still holds value. It adds a layer to your tracking metrics, and provides useful information to features in the Garmin fitness app like Recovery Advisor. The Recovery Advisor suggests how long you should wait before your next big workout. These kind of features are what makes this a great device for runners – especially those who are training for marathons.


Metrics & Tracking

In many ways it’s how the data and metrics from the 235 are used that  make the device stand out. Running data includes:

  • Pace
  • Distance
  • Time
  • Calories
  • Heart rate and max heart rate
  • Cadence
  • Training Effect for overall effectiveness

This data is available to users both mid-run, and at the end of training via the Garmin app. This allows you to monitor current performance, as well as analyze your training progression over time. Within the app itself, you get a whole lot more than your running data. There is also information on number of steps you took, to how you’ve been sleeping, and number of floors climbed (among others). You can connect to MyFitnessPal for even more data and tracking. You can see your metrics in a variety of forms as well depending on your preference—graphs, charts, maps and more.



As with the features and options, the Forerunner 235’s design is also catering to runners. It has a great sporty design that is a bit lighter and sleeker than some of the other fitness watches out there. It also looks less like an activity tracker and more like a sports watch, so that’s another perk for those wanting something a bit more discreet. It’s also light – just 42g – which is lighter than several other running watches on the market. It’s easy to wear the 235 all the time without it feeling cumbersome.

The display design is pretty fantastic, too. You can customize the look of it so that it’s exactly what you want.  The screen lights up in the dark—perfect for night runs. It’s easy to read in bright sunlight, its interface is smart and easy to use, and it has button-based controls that are intuitive, making its very easy to navigate.

The Forerunner 235 is water resistant to 5 ATM, so you can safely run in the rain, shower, or even do some surface level swimming.


App & Connectivity

The Garmin app isn’t the best out there, though there are some great things about it. When paired with the 235, you get a comprehensive look at your metrics, and there are plenty of ways to view all your data. The web tool for Garmin Connect is much better than the app, so that is a good option if you struggle with the mobile app. Hopefully, more improvements will come with future versions of the app. In the meantime, users can check incoming email, text messages, call alerts, and calendar reminders. The device also comes with pre-loaded widgets which can display weather, calendar, activity tracking, heart rate, controls, and VIRB controls.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you swim with the Garmin Forerunner 235?
A: Yes, the Garmin Forerunner 235 is safe to swim with up to 50m.
Q: How long does the Garmin 235 battery last?
A: The Garmin Forerunner 235 has a battery life of 11 hours and up to 9 days when it is being used as a watch with activity tracking, notifications, and the heart rate monitor.
Q: Does this unit have continuous heart rate monitoring?
A: Yes, unlike the predecessors, this unit runs heart rate monitoring throughout the day.
Q: Does the GPS work if the device is covered by a jacket sleeve?
A: Yes, unless there is metal covering the unit it should work fine.
Q: Can I use a HR chest strap to improve the accuracy of the HR monitor?
A: Yes, adding a HR chest strap to the mix will improve accuracy.
Q: Does this work while running without a phone?
A: Yes, the Garmin Forerunner 235 will work without a phone, unlike some other models.


There are lots of wonderful things about the Garmin Forerunner 235. It’s a fantastic option for serious runners who want an all-around wearable to keep track of running stats along with everything else.

See Price on Amazon

Rating: 80%


Product Type


Brand/Model Series

Garmin Forerunner 235

Overall Rating

80 %

Operating System

Home Grown

Phone Control


Number of Available Colors


Type Of Display

Sunlight-Visible, Transflective Memory-In-Pixel (MIP)

Screen Size

1.23" (31.1mm) diameter

Screen Resolution

215 x 180 pixels



Sleep Tracking


Steps Tracking


Calories Tracking


Downloadable Apps


Bluetooth Enabled


Heart Rate Monitor


Water Resistance Rating


Battery Type

1 Lithium Polymer batteries required (included)

Max Battery Life

216 hrs

What is included in the box?

Forerunner 235 GPS Sport Watch, Charging/Data Cradle, Manuals





On-board music storage


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