Garmin Forerunner 235 Review

Its been a few months since I got the Garmin Forerunner 235 and for some reason I have been putting off the review for quite some time.  The draft has been sitting in my sidebar just staring at me…silently judging me.  I cant take the evil looks anymore so let’s talk about the Garmin Forerunner 235 (which is not sponsored by the way).

Its funny because I actually love this watch so I dont know why it took so long to get this review up.  Its leaps and bounds better than the FitBit Surge (read about that here) and its prettier to look at, because let’s be real looks are important.  Let me start with why I decided to get a new watch.  A while back I mentioned that I was having issues with my FitBit holding a charge and how great customer service was at sending me a replacement.  Well low and behold not even 3 months later the “new” fitbit had the same issue.  I reached out to customer service and told me that since my ORIGINAL watch was out of warranty I couldn’t get a replacement but would offer me 25% off a new FitBit.  Yeah no thanks.  If I’m going to shell out that much money for another piece or wearable tech I’m going to go with something more reliable.  Enter copious amounts of research and blog stalking to see what other running bloggers used.

After way too much time reading varying articles I settled on the Garmin Forerunner 235 for a couple of reasons:

  • Heartrate monitor built in to the watch instead of a chest strap
  • Programmable workouts
  • Activity and Sleep tracking

Now, the watch does a whole lot more than that, those were just the main selling points for this particular model for me.  Before I get more into the watch, here are the specs from the website:

Physical & Performance

Physical dimensions 1.77″ x 1.77″ x 0.46″ (45.0 x 45.0 x 11.7 mm)
Display size, WxH 1.23″ (31.1 mm) diameter
Display resolution, WxH 215 x 180 pixels
Color display  yes
Weight 1.5 oz (42 g)
Battery Rechargeable lithium-ion
Battery life 11 hours training, 9 days watch + activity tracking + notifications + heart rate
Water rating 5 ATM
GPS-enabled  yes
High-sensitivity receiver  yes
Smart notifications (displays email, text and other alerts when paired with your compatible phone)  yes
Vibration alert  yes
Music control  yes
Find my phone  yes
VIRB® control  yes
Watch functions Includes date and alarm

Maps & Memory

History 200 hours of activity data

Running Features

V02 max estimate  yes
Recovery advisor  yes
Race predictor  yes
Accelerometer (calculates distance for indoor workouts, without need for a foot pod)  yes
Personal records  yes

Cycling Features

Bike speed/cadence sensor Yes (optional)

Performance Features

Heart rate monitor Yes (wrist-based)
Foot pod Yes (optional)
Auto Pause® (pauses and resumes timer based on speed)  yes
Auto Lap® (automatically starts a new lap)  yes
Auto Scroll (cycles through data pages during workout)  yes
Advanced workouts (create custom, goal-oriented workouts)  yes
Pace alert (triggers alarm if you vary from preset pace)  yes
Time/distance alert (triggers alarm when you reach goal)  yes
Interval training (set up exercise and rest intervals)  yes
Heart rate-based calorie computation  yes
Calculates calories burned  yes
Training Effect (measures impact of an activity on your aerobic fitness)  yes
Customizable screen(s)  yes
Shock Resistant  yes

Activity Tracking Features

Step counter  yes
Auto goal (learns your activity level and assigns a daily step goal)  yes
Move bar (displays on device after a period of inactivity; walk for a couple of minutes to reset it)  yes
Sleep monitoring (monitors total sleep and periods of movement or restful sleep)  yes

Garmin Connect™

Garmin Connect™ compatible (online community where you analyze, categorize and share data)  yes
Automatic sync (automatically transfers data to your computer)  yes


  • Connect IQ™ app support: Yes
  • Wrist-based heart rate: Yes

Lots of info there right!  I don’t use half of the features but the ones I do I love.  I’m just going to highlight my favorite things about the watch and some things that are a little annoying but not a big issue.


  • Workout face can be customized to show what you want.  I changed mine to show distance, current pace, heart-rate and time elapsed but you can show other things as well.
  • Workouts can be customized and loaded to the watch like a personal coach.  The workouts can also have goal paces and the watch will let you know with beeps/vibrations if you are going too fast or two slow.  The watch also tells you when to start and stop an interval which is my favorite part so I don’t have to look at my watch all the time.
  • At the end of the workout the watch gives you stats through the app about VOX and all that jazz.  If I was more informed with that information I could probably be my own coach and base goals and workouts off that information.  As it is I sent that info to my coach and she does it for me.
  • Lap feature during workouts that are set up and while running.  If you set intervals the watch will start a new lap with each interval you don’t have to do anything.  If you are running just standard then with 1 click a new lap starts and the watch will recalculate based on the lap distance you just did.  Its pretty cool.
  • Sleep tracking is pretty accurate.  I’ve tested it against my jawbone and they are within minutes of each other.
  • The Garmin app is awesome, while its not part of the watch its definitely worth mentioning.
  • Bluetooth enabled for text notifications.  I love this because sometimes Joe tried to get in touch with me on long runs and I don’t hear it on my phone.  With the Bluetooth I can see if someone texts/calls and see a preview of the text message.


  • In the workout training plan feature if you aren’t hitting your target pace the watch will keep beeping at you almost constantly until you hit the pace.  It can get really annoying when your trying as hard as you can and your watch tell you you suck 🙂
  • The back-light doesn’t automatically come on.  When I run in the dark it would be nice if I twist my wrist to the top the light would come on (like it did with the FitBit) as it is now I wait until I get under a street light to look at the stats.  There is a light function button but I really don’t like messing with the buttons when I run.
  • The GPS on the treadmill is one of the worst GPS functions I’ve seen.  Granted the treadmill keeps pretty accurate count of what you are doing but its still frustrating when you hit mile 2.5 on the treadmill and your watch says 0.8.
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cost as a con.  At $330 this watch is anything but cheap.  So far I absolutely feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth, but its not an easy pill to swallow.
  • Auto-pause function, for me at least, doesn’t work like it should.  I thought this was going to be an awesome feature so I didn’t have to pause my watch when I would stop to pick up dog doo-doo or something like that but it never worked right sadly.  Could also be user error so I’m not discounting that 🙂

The pros and cons list seems to be the same but most of these cons are just general complaints and the pros are much more significant.  Again I have to say this watch does not come cheap but that old saying “you get what you pay for” definitely applies here.  I’ve very happy I made the switch to Garmin and goodbye to FitBit.

CHIME IN!!!  Do you use a fitness tracker?  What do you use to track your runs?  Do you care about sleep monitoring?


4 thoughts on “Garmin Forerunner 235 Review

  1. I can never remember which button is the light on my Garmin so I too am limiting to checking it by streetlight when running in the dark. I’m kind of laughing at myself now because I use all the other buttons fairly regularly so by default the light button is also the one button I never use. Seems obvious in retrospect.

    I’m glad you are enjoying your new watch!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My son has just purchased the 235 for me for christmas. Ive used the Microsoft Band ( First Gen) for almost 4yrs with absolutely no issues. Watch still works perfectly but the band broke and is not replaceable and since Microsoft discontinued their fitness watches there is no watch replacement either. So anyways i loved the wrist based HR and wanted another with that feature. The 235 is perfect for my needs!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s