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Garmin Forerunner 245 versus 235: Do maps and music make the step up worthwhile?

Forerunner 235 (L) with new Forerunner 245 (R) Image used with permission by copyright holder

Garmin refreshed its Forerunner lineup, introducing five new fitness smartwatches. Among the new watches is the Forerunner 245, an upgrade to the popular Forerunner 235.  The Forerunner 245 hits the same niche as its predecessor — the runner who wants a solid fitness watch that’ll keep up with their training but doesn’t overload them with the data they don’t need. So what is new in the Forerunner 245 that makes it such a great training companion? We break down the good and the bad so you can decide if the new Forerunner 245 is the right Garmin for you.

What’s New

On the outside, the Forerunner 245 is slightly smaller (42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2mm) than the Forerunner 235 (45 x 45 x 11.7 mm) and has a polished appearance. It is similar in size and appearance to the Forerunner 645 (42.5 x 42.5 x 13.5 mm) but has a black bezel instead of stainless steel. The Forerunner 245 still has a sunlight-readable color display and five buttons for navigating the menu system. The interface for the watch also has the same look and feel as other current generation Garmin watches. Unlike the smooth band of the Forerunner 235, the band on the Forerunner 245 now is soft on the inside and textured on the outside. It has the same quick release system as the Forerunner 645 which allows you to easily swap between different compatible watch straps.

Forerunner 245 (L) with Forerunner 645 (R) Image used with permission by copyright holder

Internally, Garmin is using a new heart-rate monitor for the Forerunner 245 and a pulse oximeter to measure oxygen absorption. GPS tracking is improved with support for the Galileo satellite system as well as the standard GPS and Glonass satellites. To accompany the new GPS, there now are breadcrumb maps that let you follow a pre-loaded course, a GPS track from a previous activity or find your way back to your starting point.

  • Full-color breadcrumb maps
  • Advanced running dynamics ( requires a compatible chest strap, running pod)
  • Pulse oximeter
  • Music (500 songs, Spotify or Deezer; only on Forerunner 245 Music)
  • Galileo GPS
  • Configurable Lap pop-up
  • Garmin Coach
  • Metronome
  • Pool Swim Activity
  • Anaerobic training effect
  • Training status
  • Training load
  • Automax HR
  • Varia smart bike lights and rearview radar

Garmin upped the metrics on the Forerunner 245 turning it into a potent fitness trainer. The new watch supports training status, training load, and anaerobic training effect so you can closely monitor your effort and optimize your training. If you need a training plan, the Garmin Coach training program now works with the Forerunner 245 allowing you to choose between 5K, 10K, or half-marathon training.  One of the biggest changes in the Forerunner 245 is support for Garmin’s advanced running dynamics. You now can strap on a Garmin heart rate chest strap or the running dynamics pod and analyze your running form.

Garmin introduced Spotify support last year and has been rolling out the feature gradually to its smartwatches. It’s not surprising then to see music support land in one of the company’s most popular running watches. Garmin actually is selling two versions of the Forerunner 245 — a standard version without music and a music version that includes onboard storage of up to 500 songs and offline syncing with Spotify and Deezer music services.

What’s Still Missing

Garmin packed a lot of new features into the Forerunner 245, but there are still a few key items that are missing. Most notable is the barometric altimeter which is used to calculate the elevation of a run as well as the number of floors that are climbed each day. If a barometric altimeter is a must-have in your fitness watch, then you need to jump up to the Forerunner 645 or the Forerunner 945. There also is no gyroscope or support for Garmin Pay.

Who Should Buy the Forerunner 245

The Forerunner 245 is ideal for the casual and semi-serious athlete who wants to start tracking the finer details of their performance but doesn’t want to be overwhelmed by a ton of features. It’ll get you started on the path of performance monitoring and has enough depth in its metrics to grow with you as your performance improves.

Should you upgrade?

Garmin’s previous Forerunner 235 was a solid fitness tracker and now its replacement, the Forerunner 245, is an even more compelling option for runners. With music, breadcrumb maps, and a slew of new metrics to help improve your running, we can’t help but recommend upgrading to the Forerunner 245, especially if your Forerunner 235 is at the end of its life. Sell the old one and purchase the new one — you won’t be disappointed. You’ll get all these new running-focused features along with the same solid performance you know and love.

Editors' Recommendations

Kelly Hodgkins
Kelly's been writing online for ten years, working at Gizmodo, TUAW, and BGR among others. Living near the White Mountains of…
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