Garmin Forerunner 235

8.0
8.0 score
(GearWeAre.com) score (8.0)/10

Our GearWeAre.com score is based on 3 different factors: Editor's rating after in-depth testing. User ratings submitted on this page Overall score from the "reviewmeter" based on reviews across the web the weight of each factor is: 40% editor rating 15% user ratings 45% reviewmeter.
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Editor rating: 8.8 / 10
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Garmin Forerunner 235 Review Facts

After you use the Garmin Forerunner 235 for the first time, it will become as important to your workout as your running shoes. This fitness watch will track and analyze your distance, pace, calories, heart rate as well as other significant health factors like VO2 and restful sleep. All of this valuable data is collected within a compact, lightweight unit that not only looks cool but continues to evolve with regular software updates. The customizable screen provides convenient ways to display data that is tailor-made to fit your workout. Expand personalization by using Connect IQ to download custom watch faces, widgets, apps, and data fields all made available by Garmin at no additional charge. Overall, this user-friendly watch provides everything needed in a fitness companion and will hold up through the entire workout and then some. The Forerunner 235 from Garmin is a top-tier choice for serious runners looking to upgrade their performance.  Let’s go over the features in our in-depth review below.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Water-resistant
  • Full-color display
  • Intuitive fitness tracking
  • A built-in optical heart rate sensor
  • Accurate GPS + GLONASS mapping
  • Lightweight
  • Some smartwatch capabilities
  • Easily pair with external sensors and accessories
  • Comprehensive Garmin companion app & app platform
  • Customizable sport profile options
Cons
  • Less than ideal battery Life
  • No touch screen
See How
Reviews were analyzed here:
We read, analyze and sort reviews into positive & negative categories to give you the complete picture.
What are buyers saying?

We have spent 3.5 hours analyzing a total of 1832 reviews.

These reviews are then categoried into "Positive" and "Negative" feedback.

Below you will read a summary of them:

Positive
  • Many buyers are satisfied with the fitness tracking capabilities.
  • The display stays on for easy viewing during activity.
  • Most reviewers are impressed by the battery life.
  • The smartwatch features are decent. They are a nice bonus to the fitness tracker features.
  • It's user-friendly.
  • There are positive reviews from marathon runners.
  • The GPS connects quickly and there are no complaints on the accuracy.
  • It is a comfortable device to wear.
  • The design looks good.
  • There is a wide range of features for active people, the device is not bogged down by too many.
  • It can be used for running, biking, swimming as well as other activities.
  • It can be linked to a heart rate chest strap if the internal one has issues.
  • Many experienced Garmin users are pleased with this new model.
  • Bluetooth pairing allows you to screen calls and texts.
  • The display is customizable.
Negative
  • Although buyers like this device as a fitness tracker, it doesn't compare in the smartwatch market.
  • The accuracy of the heart rate monitor has been inconsistent for some reviewers.
  • It's recommended to get a screen protector since the screen can easily be damaged by a bump or two.
  • If you don't wear it all the time, reviewers suggest putting it on 20+ minutes before a workout otherwise the heart rate monitor may be inaccurate.
  • There are some reports of defective devices from third party sellers.
  • A few reviewers claim full functionality can be negatively affected by certain software upgrades.
  • Although many like the design, it is a bit on the bulky side.
  • The display is dimly lit.
  • There is no option to pause and view current data during a workout.
  • The manual is not entirely clear.
  • If this is your first fitness tracker, there is a bit of a learning curve to set up.
  • If there are multiple apps displayed, it can be hard to read all of the information.
Reviewmeter
The Reviewmeter shows you an overall score that you can easily refer to. The highest rating is 10 (100% positive feedback)
Of the 1832 reviews we found in total, 26% were negative, and 74% were positive.
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Face

Face

The LCD screen on this watch is 1.23 inches, it reads information in full color that is clearly visible during the day in direct sunlight thanks to its transflective display and a backlight is available for use at night. The higher resolution on the 235 is one of the upgrades from its previous versions. Lacking a touchscreen, the Forerunner utilizes buttons on each side of its face to access the various menus. A watch face that is large enough to display up to four stats on two customizable screens, some users feel this product isn't as ornate in look and feel like its more techy competitors.
Size

Size

With a full diameter of 1.7 inches and a thickness of .46 inches, the watch is surprisingly light for the display size and many say it’s hardly noticeable after strapped onto the wrist. The band is adjustable silicon that is flexible enough to accommodate wrists that range up to 9 inches.
Basic Features

Basic Features

In its primary function of tracking and analyzing running data, the Forerunner 235 excels. The time display home screen features an activity bar that grows along the watch face with inactivity and reminds you when it’s time to move. An accelerometer is shown that will account for overall step count and distance during the day. On this screen, you’re only a few clicks of the running icon button from starting a workout.

Everything works seamlessly as the watch quickly triangulates your position via GPS and begins recording your progress. Using the arrow buttons, you can scroll through calories, distance, time, pace, during your run as well as lap distance, time and set it to auto record laps as you go. The continuous 24/7 monitor tracks your heart rate, heart rate zone and there are audio and vibrating options to alert you of target heart rate and pace. This optical sensor located on the back of the watch updates every 4 hours and can show your HR stats from the past 7 days. In addition to outdoor running, the watch will also record 3 other sport profiles: cycling, running indoors, and an activity profile simply named ‘Other’ will track your fitness stats while doing yoga or lifting weights. It’s able to do so thanks to the accuracy of the built-in heart rate monitor working in sync with GPS and advanced GLONASS mapping. The functions are customizable and relatively simple, but that is a feature many have come to appreciate about this GPS running watch – the Forerunner 235 gets the basics exactly right.
Advanced Features

Advanced Features

In addition to the basics, the advanced features packed into this fitness watch not only provide a more in-depth analysis of your workout but are just convenient extras to enjoy.

Usually only found on more high-end Garmin GPS watches the Forerunner 235 powers a VO2 max using the HR sensor that gauges how much oxygen your body can process during the workout. Use this consistently throughout each and every exercise to properly judge your fitness level and to see progress. Post run there is a Training Effort notification that utilizes your active and resting heart rate to assess the overall training impact of your run. On a scale from 0-5, this feature is designed to tell you whether the session had an improving effect on your fitness. A recovery advisor also helps by letting you know how long you should rest before the next strenuous activity.

With the ability to wirelessly sync the Forerunner 235 to any smartphone through Bluetooth, access call, text, calendar, and social media notifications right there on one screen. It’s an added bonus that you can read the entire messages rather than a preview and you can easily set the notifications to Do Not Disturb right there on the watch to cut out distractions for an uninterrupted workout. You can also control the music you are listening to during a workout through your phone on Spotify with one click.
Apps

Apps

The Garmin app continues to impress users with its full feature capabilities that organize and analyze data collected from the multiple sport profiles. After your workout it syncs the watch with Garmin Connect for a snapshot of steps, active calories, intensity minutes and floors climbed that day. Swiping left or right you’ll find a more detailed report of intensity minutes, steps, activities, weight, sleep, and community. A map of your route accompanies the sequence of stats you will get each day, along with a pleasant readout of the weather forecast. Each of these screens is customizable to show your most used activities. While some users online don't like having to dig through essentially a heap of information each time just to get their best lap time, the customization of each workout profile and within the app helps with sorting through unhelpful data.

Use Garmin's proprietary app platform Connect IQ to download custom watch faces, widgets, apps, and additional data fields all free of charge. Despite the Forerunners water resistance up to 50M, this isn’t a swimmer’s watch and it won't track your pool laps. Luckily a third-party app known as Pool Swim is available within the platform and offers a way of tracking swims via the compass.
Comfort

Comfort

Weighing in at a mere 1.5 ounces the Forerunner 235 is very lightweight and has a comfortable grip that most runners say they forget about after putting it on. With this version, Garmin has opted for function over form by foregoing the more substantial build materials and instead went for a durable plastic giving it a low profile. The soft and flexible silicone band is light against the wrist and features breathable slits to help runners stay cool. Many commenters online like this watch for its basic yet tough exterior that doesn't scream sports watch and is easy to wear all day.
Durability

Durability

The Forerunner 235 is comprised of a plastic coated encasing and a tough silicon band that flexes with the elements. Most users had little to no issues with the durability of the watch and were safely able to use it in water up to the measured depth without damaging the interior. However, it is common to experience damage to an object worn on your wrist every day especially if the material that is coming into contact with hard surfaces the most is glass. We suggest purchasing a screen protector for this item to save yourself from worrying over bumps and scrapes that will happen and because Garmin’s warranty does not cover cosmetic damage.
Connectivity

Connectivity

Connect and send information to your smartphone wirelessly through Garmin Connect automatically each day for a more comprehensive look at your fitness tracking. This connection also allows you to instantly receive notifications, audio reminders and share data through social media sites all right there on your wrist. Reviewers enjoyed the easy to set up wireless connectivity especially while exercising but some found it needed to be refreshed from time to time especially if the watch was turned off. The Forerunner uses a GPS and GLONASS signal receiver that when used together boosts signal acquisition and improved accuracy. It is especially useful while running in a city surrounded by large buildings. Using these together does reduce the battery life by a few hours while in training mode. Users have the ability to use GPS only that works quickly and accurately as well with a connection time averaging 20 seconds.
Accuracy

Accuracy

Conveniently having access to your heart rate data right on your wrist by reading from LED sensors is an incredible feat for technology, and the ability to retire the external sensor for a more comfortable workout is a feature worth it for many athletes. It has yet to convince all users of its ability with some saying it struggled to stay consistent through workouts and suggest for more serious runners - keep using the chest strap in congruence with the watch to compare accuracy. This watch not only tracks resting, and active heart rate it also tracks distance, steps, and duration using a GPS sensor embedded within the watch. Its relatively new software accuracy has had the tendency to fluctuate with different user experiences but overall still a very impressive feature made available at a lower price.
Power Source

Power Source

Garmin claims the Forerunner 235 can last up to 11 hours in Training mode using GPS and active heart rate sensor while watch mode will last up to 9 days with activity tracking. Tested by many users online with more than positive feedback and some even exceeding the battery life with regular fitness intervals and daily tracking. This watch is more than capable of outlasting the average training week and the highest intensity workouts. A staple of Garmin products, the charging cable is a special clamp design with a USB port that is a little awkward to use while wearing the watch so its best used at the end of the day when syncing with Garmin Connect.
Accessories

Accessories

There are additional accessories available to connect to the Forerunner 235 through Bluetooth that will only continue to upgrade your performance and overall fitness experience in many different sports. They include a heart rate chest strap that can be used by those serious runners looking for the most accurate reading available or those with health conditions. Garmin also produces its own line of foot pods, bike mounts, and action cameras.
Ease of Use

Ease of Use

With a classic round-faced, 1.23-inch full-color screen that’s easy to read in most light, and large enough to display up to four stats, this user-friendly device is a welcomed companion on any workout. By using the conveniently located buttons along with the intuitive on-screen interface, even the most inexperienced smartwatch users are able to navigate through the Forerunners menu. It also features two customizable screens and four-sport profiles that you can tailor to fit your preferences such as audio notifications or toggling the GPS mapping on/off to save battery life. While in range the watch will automatically sync tracked data to the Garmin Connect app. In this current tech craze, some users are disappointed by its non-existent touch screen capabilities but while you’re running and working out its difficult to manipulate a touch screen with sweaty hands.
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

For the competitive or dedicated runner that is looking to improve overall fitness and running experience, the Forerunner 235 is a more than ideal workout companion. It is thin, lightweight and easy to use as a 24/7 activity tracker and sleep monitor. The pinpoint GPS receiver accurately tracks your steps, distance, and pace all while working with the wrist-based heart rate monitor to track calories burned and determine personal fitness levels. Concerns with heart rate accuracy are among the few issues online users had with this watch and as technology improves inconsistencies will eventually fade. Being able to see the impact of your training, predict recovery time and see improvement with the numbers are useful features to have readily available on your wrist and we think you will be very happy with this intuitive product from Garmin.