Garmin Forerunner 235 Review – Best Watch for Improving Runners

garmin forerunner 235 review

Garmin Forerunner 235 is a best selling GPS running watch due to its features. It’s ideal for runners who want to improve their running or can be used to simply track pace, distance, and heart rate.

The biggest draw will be the built-in wrist-based heart rate, so you don’t need to wear a chest strap for heart rate zone training. Knowing which zone you are training in helps to improve your aerobic fitness.


  • Essential running data
  • Audio Prompts
  • 44% larger screen compared with previous Forerunner 225
  • Garmin Elevate wrist-based heart rate technologySm
  • art notifications when paired with compatible phone
  • VO2 Max Estimates


  • Can’t be used for multisport
  • Battery life not as good compared with other models (11 hrs)
  • Wrist heart rate inaccuracy reported

Forerunner 235 has connected features. When paired with a Bluetooth smartphone receive notifications such as calls, texts and weather alerts. You can also wirelessly sync with the Garmin Connect app to review your run data.

Track your steps, distance walked during the day, calories burned and heart rate 24/7. Customize the Forerunner 235 watch display with new apps and widgets from Garmin’s own Connect IQ app store.

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Forerunner 235 Key Features

  • Battery Life: Up to 9 days smartwatch mode 11 hrs in GPS mode
  • Water rating (5 ATM)
  • Watch function (time/date/alarm) (time/date only)
  • High-resolution sunlight readable display
  • GPS tracks time, distance, paceTracks steps, calories burned, sleep
  • Heart rate-based calorie computation
  • Auto Pause / Auto LapRun / Walk feature
  • Customisable screensPersonal records
  • Smart notifications & features
  • LiveTrack
  • Heart rate monitor compatible
  • Wireless uploads to Garmin Connect
  • Adds improved training features, heart rate analysis, colour screen and customisable screens through Connect IQ and more
  • Advanced workouts & training plansInterval training
  • Pace Alerts
  • VO2 Max estimate
  • Recovery advisor & race predictor
  • Training effect
  • Bike speed/cadence sensor compatible
  • Cycling (and other) activity profiles
  • VIRB remote (sold separately)
  • Weather and calendar widgets
  • Connect IQ compatible
  • Vibration alertsMusic controls
  • Connected features: automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, live tracking, audio prompts, smart notifications, social media sharing and music control
  • Customized training plans from Garmin Connect on your watch for real-time coaching
  • Tracks heart rate at the wrist day or night, to provide more accurate calories burned information
  • Activity tracking: steps, distance, pace, cadence and calories burned
  • Download new data fields, watch faces, widgets and applications from Connect IQ

Garmin Forerunner 235 Comparison

If you’re in the market for a new GPS running watch that will actually assist with your running form rather than simply track your data there are 3 good options to choose from. The Forerunner 230 and 235 are classed as the best watches for ‘improving runners’ as they will help you get more from your run.

The Forerunner 630 is at the higher-end and targeted towards those runners pushing for marathon PB’s. Of course, you can use any of these for simple data tracking. However, the 630 includes advanced running dynamics which gives you detailed feedback on your form.

garmin forerunner 235 style review

Running Features

For a mid-range GPS running watch, the Garmin Forerunner 235 has an extensive range of features. The large color display clearly shows the data you need at a glance and can be customized via the options with different data fields, depending on user preference.

Wrist-based heart rate

Forerunner 235 has Garmin wrist-based heart rate technology. A built-in optical sensor at the rear of the watch measures heart rate at the wrist. Runners now have the option to run without a chest strap. Forerunner 235 is also compatible with the standard ANT+ heart rate chest straps for greater accuracy.

Accelerometer for treadmill running

A built-in accelerometer captures distance and pace data when you’re running indoors and out of GPS range. After running with wrist heart turned on Forerunner 235 estimates VO2 max (the maximum rate of oxygen consumed during an activity, used to measure the overall fitness of a runner), recovery time and predicts your race times for several distances when used with heart rate.

24 hour activity tracking

For extra motivation to keep active during a break in training a ‘move bar’ with vibration alert motivates you to move when you’ve been sitting too long. Forerunner 235 also counts steps, calories, distance and heart rate throughout the day with 24-hour activity tracking.

Handy smartphone notifications

Through a compatible smartphone, Forerunner 235 users can stay connected in-between workouts with smart notifications for calls, text, and emails. Smart notifications are also useful if you run with your phone strapped to your arm, now you can keep connected during a workout without stopping to look at your phone.​

Customize the display with Connect IQ app store

Audio alerts are included for lap times while listening to music during a run. Users can even control music directly from the watch although you cannot store music on it. Forerunner 235 is also compatible with Garmin’s Connect IQ app platform. With Connect IQ, users are able to customize the display with additional apps, widgets, watch faces and data fields.​

Strong satellite signal with GPS+GLONASS

The days of waiting ages for a GPS signal are thankfully now over as Forerunner 235 has GPS+GLONASS for a stronger combined signal. This means that in built-up areas or locations where you may have previously struggled to get a satellite fix you’ll still be able to get an accurate signal.​

Garmin Connect Mobile App
Garmin Connect Mobile App

Monitor your progress in free Garmin Connect app

Forerunner 235 automatically syncs with the Garmin Connect Mobile app when in range. Compatible with the majority of modern smartphones and also available as desktop computer app. Garmin Connect’s easy-to-use interface provides daily information and trends over time. Runners can review data including pace, heart rate, cadence, split times and times in heart rate zones. You can also view your run on a map.​

Garmin Connect and can be linked to a MyFitnessPal account to automatically sync calorie and nutritional information. This allows users to view active and consumed calories, and remaining calories (based on goals set in MyFitnessPal).

Compatible with bike speed / cadence sensor for cycling

Forerunner 235 isn’t a multisport watch so it can’t be used for tracking swimming (although it is waterproof to 50 meters). However, you can purchase a bike speed sensor which attaches to your wheel hub and a cadence sensor which can be attached to your crank arm. This will give you accurate speed and distance on your Forerunner 235. There’s also an optional Forerunner bike mount kit (Amazon) for your handlebars.​

key feature review of forerunner 235

Watch Design

The Forerunner 235 watch design is a big improvement from earlier models. It has a large bright color display (but still slim enough to fit under a shirt sleeve) with a well-ventilated silicone strap.

Due to the size of the display, it’s recommended to purchase a screen protector to protect from scratches, available to buy cheaply. Battery life is very good and will more than see you through a marathon without any problems. You’ll get 9 days in smartwatch mode and 11 hours in activity or GPS training mode.

Forerunner 235 comes with a USB charging clip that simply connects to the charging area on the rear of the watch. You can charge via your computer (while uploading your runs) or purchase an additional AC adapter for mains charging.​

The design of this particular sports watch is so good that you could easily wear it as an everyday watch. There are a range of colors to choose from – Black/Grey, Black/Frost Blue, Black/Marsala Red and optional replacement colored straps available.

Ease of Use

Like all technology if you’re familiar with previous Garmin watches then you’ll easily find your way around the display. New customers may find it takes a few runs under the belt to get used to it. It’s worth noting this watch isn’t a touchscreen.

However, runners have found buttons to be more reliable and easier to use with sweaty fingers or while wearing gloves in cold weather. The buttons can sometimes be accidentally pressed but simply locking the watch when in use can help solve this problem.

There are 5 simple function buttons around the edge of the display:

  1. Power and backlight buttons
  2. Start and stop timer
  3. Start new lap, return to the previous screen
  4. Up and down to scroll through data display, widgets and options​

Overall Forerunner 235 is a well priced watch which provides all the essential data a runner needs exceptionally well. If you’re serious about taking your running to the next level or training for a marathon then it’s well worth investing in this watch, like you would a new pair of ‘rather’ expensive trainers or running kit.

Bottom Line

This watch will appeal to competitive runners who are prepared to spend a few hundred dollars (or pounds) on wearable technology that will actually help with their training. It’s well worth the money for the data and functions it provides in such a lightweight, well-designed sports watch.

Forerunner 235 does lack of 2nd generation running dynamics or advanced physiological measurements that the Forerunner 630 offers at a higher price point.

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