garmin forerunner 230 review

Garmin Forerunner 230 Review – Smart features and activity tracking

Watch Review: Forerunner 230

Editors Rating:

Running Features

Watch Design

Ease of Use



  • Essential running data
  • Audio Prompts
  • 44% larger screen compared with previous Forerunner 225
  • Smart notifications when paired with compatible phone
  • VO2 Max Estimates


  • Designed just for running
  • No wrist heart rate (but can be paired with chest strap)

Garmin Forerunner 230 Review

The Garmin Forerunner 230 and 235 are essentially the same watches apart from one key difference - wrist-based heart rate which is available on the Forerunner 235.

Another difference is the battery life: Forerunner 230 will give longer in comparison to the Forerunner 235 (FR230: Up to 5 wks smartwatch mode / 16 hrs in GPS mode / FR235: Up to 9 days smartwatch mode / 11 hrs in GPS mode). This is mainly due to the FR235 wrist-based heart rate using more battery. However, 16 hours is more than enough and won't be a problem for marathon training.

Should appeal to both men and women with the range of colors on offer. The watch is slightly bulky due to the size of the screen but the comfortable strap can be tightened comfortable enough to worn on slimmer wrists. The slimline design allows the watch to fit under a sleeve without any problems.

Who should buy the Forerunner 230 watch?

Runners training for a race, 10K, half marathon full marathon. It has cycling features but only when paired with sensors available separately. It is waterproof but can't be used for swim tracking (SWOLF).

Garmin Forerunner 230 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, pace
  • Tracks steps, calories burned, sleep
  • Heart rate-based calorie computation
  • Auto Pause / Auto LapRun / Walk feature
  • Customisable screens
  • Personal records
  • Smart notifications & features
  • LiveTrackHeart 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 plans
  • Interval 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

Forerunner 230 In-depth Product Review:

Garmin Forerunner 230 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 230
garmin forerunner 235
garmin forerunner 630


Forerunner 230

Forerunner 235

Forerunner 630

Color display

Advanced Workouts

VO2 Max Estimate

Recovery Advisor

Step Count

Virtual Pacer

Sleep Monitoring

Pace Alert

Wrist-based heart rate

Running Dynamics

Connect IQ

Forerunner 230 Running Features: 4.5/5

The Forerunner 230 is an excellent option for runners training for a personal best in their next 10K, half marathon and marathon. You can create custom workouts and training plans for free in the Garmin Connect desktop app and upload it to the FR230 for real-time coaching on pace, time and distance.

reviews of the garmin forerunner 230 gps running watch features

Heart rate with a chest strap

Pair Forerunner 230 with a chest strap heart rate monitor for VO2 Max estimates. This measures the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume per minute per kilogram of body weight at max performance. It’s a great way to monitor your fitness level and improvements being made. Recovery advisor provides a real-time assessment of your recovery in the first several minutes of a run and Training Effect measures your training load in an easy to understand 5 point scale so you know how hard you're working.

24/7 Activity Tracking

Forerunner 230 tracks your steps, distance, calories burned and sleep for 24/7 monitoring. It has move bar alerts to remind you when it’s time to move and personalised daily step goals for you to beat.

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.

Stay motivated with personal records

Personal Records help you stay motivated with alerts that highlight when you’ve achieved a personal record  - from one mile to a marathon. Stay on top of things during your run with smart notifications. When paired with a compatible device, you can receive text, emails, call and calendar alerts and more, directly to your wrist.

Garmin Live Track Real-time Tracking

Let friends and family track your activities in real time. A great way to give loved one's peace of mind while you’re training or to let them cheer you on race day. A connected mobile phone must be within range, either strapped to your arm or in a running belt.

Forerunner 230 Watch Design: 5/5

Forerunner 230 is available in 3 color variants - Black/White, Black/Force Yellow and Black/Purple Strike so should appeal to both men and women. Even though the screen is large (45 x 45 x 11.7 mm) the watch doesn't seem chunky and the silicone band has more than enough holes to fit smaller wrists.

Forerunner 230 is also incredibly lightweight at only 41g so you won't feel it on your wrist - just what you need during long training runs.

The color display is 215x180 pixels which isn't that sharp compared with smartwatches such as the Apple watch. It's worth noting the Forerunner 230 shouldn't be classed as a smartwatch - it's a running watch with smart features. What you loose in pixels you gain in battery life.​

Forerunner 230 is compatible with Connect IQ, Garmin's version of an app store. 3rd party developers are now working with Garmin to develop new apps, widgets and watch faces. This is great for customizing the watch display. You can also download new data fields and change how these appear on the watch. At a glance you get the data you need during training.​

Forerunner 230 - Ease of Use: 4/5

Forerunner 230 is an easy-to-use watch and has same scrollable navigation as many other Garmin watches. 4 buttons around the edge of the display (no touchscreen here) for power/backlight, up and down, back and the running icon for start/stop.

Forerunner 230 has basic music control if you like to listen to music from your smartphone while you run. These features are basic and require a compatible smartphone to work. You can't store music directly on the watch unlike the TomTom music watch.

Forerunner 230 can be set up to play audio alerts during a run. This is done via the Garmin Connect Mobile app and will play motivational status announcements on your smartphone during the run. Audio alerts include the lap number and lap time, pace or speed, and heart rate data. During an audio alert, the Garmin Connect mobile app mutes the primary audio of the smartphone to play the announcement. Volume levels can be customized on the Garmin Connect Mobile app.

Price: 5/5

For a mid-range running watch Forerunner 230 is a great buy. There are plenty of deals available, including a bundle version which comes with the Garmin soft strap heart rate monitor (if you do require accurate heart rate information).

Bottom Line

If you want wrist-based heart rate you should buy the Forerunner 235, however, if you can live without it or already have a separate Garmin chest strap to hand then 230 is the cheaper option. It's a great upgrade to the older Forerunner 220 with a 60% battery life increase and bigger display. This watch should hold its own for the next 3 - 4 years with the various free software updates that can be done via Garmin Express, you should be able to upgrade down the line.

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Garmin Forerunner 230 GPS Running Watch
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