- So comfortable you barely notice it
- Attractive design
- Impressive battery life
- Multiple training functions
- Smartphone connectivity
- Thick screen bezel
- Garmin Connect app still overwhelming
- Review Price: £470.00
- Built-in heart rate monitor
- Multisport tracking
- Sleep tracking
- Anaerobic and aerobic readouts
- Advanced running metrics
- Phone notifications
What is the Garmin Forerunner 935?
The Garmin Forerunner 935 is a running and triathlon GPS sports watch. That’s it at its most basic – but it’s also a lot more. In fact this could be the most comprehensive tracking offering available right now all in one place on your wrist.
The Garmin Forerunner 935 has a built-in heart rate monitor, activity and sleep tracking, displays notifications from a connected smartphone, tracks all manner of sports, features a barometric altimeter and compass for tracking and even has maps options. This is essentially the Fenix 5 in a more compact plastic housing. Despite all this, it’s a comfortable 49g and even looks good. In short, it’s got it all.
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Garmin Forerunner 935 – Design and setup
The Garmin Forerunner 935 is a compact piece of kit and has managed to improve its looks over previous generations, which were a bit more plastic looking. The 935 features metallic buttons, a linear edging and clear colour display. There’s also the addition of QuickFit bands meaning you can swap out straps to suit what you’re doing.
The 935 is comfortable to wear, day and night, meaning you find yourself leaving it on for true lifestyle tracking – I often forgot I even had it on and panicked and started looking for it. The 50 metre depth waterproofing means I showered with this on without even thinking about it.
If I was going to be picky about looks, despite them being an improvement, I’d moan about that bezel. Bezel-free displays are what people want these days and Garmin has slimmed its bezels down somewhat over the years, but not recently. The Forerunner 935 has a chunky bezel which, if removed, would make for a larger display and a really, really good looking sports watch. The fact you don’t need touchscreen thanks to an easy to use button controlled menu should make this upgrade even simpler for Garmin. Also, for triathletes who enjoyed the larger squarer screens of old, this might be a really attractive improvement. What do you think Garmin, time for a looks super boost?
Setup is super simple. Download the app, input profile details, sync the watch and you’re good to go. There are initially a selection of sports modes on the watch but you can always add more, like snowboarding, paddle boarding, hiking or custom ones like yoga easily enough right from the watch itself.
Garmin Forerunner 935 – Activity and sports tracking
The Forerunner 935 is primarily built as a running and triathlon watch meaning its running, cycling and swimming tracking are easily found. If you have the accompanying heart rate chest strap it’ll also track serious running dynamics like ground contact time, vertical oscillation, cadence and more – or while swimming you get strokes, pace, distance and more. I did an outdoor swim and it used GPS to track distance really easily and worked well.
The GPS in this watch is excellent, not only for accuracy but for acquisition. Going out the front door you won’t need to wait around to find satellites – this even applies when jumping in the water.
The menu layout places favourites at the top so you don’t need to cycle through everything to find the activity you want, a nice touch that keeps the menu screen tidy. Scroll down and you have activities but also fitness tests like the HRV Stress and TrainingPeaks guided workout options – a great way to feel like you’re working with a personal trainer rather than just tracking your efforts.
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Triathlons are great with this watch as you can transition between disciplines with just one button press – so you have time to focus on peeling off that wetsuit or strapping into your bike. This highlights, for me, what makes this watch great – the little things. Thanks to such ease of use and deep analysis of training you can actually use this to help shave seconds off your times. That makes this great for beginners who are improving but maybe even more crucial for developed athletes who struggle to shave time off at that top end of performance.
Garmin Forerunner 935 – App and guidance
Guidance on the Forerunner 935 is up there with some of the best GPS watches – yup, even the Fenix 5X. You can upload routes and have the watch guide you, or run a route then have it guide you back to the start via your path or a direct line. There’s even an option for maps, which you need to download as extra but it just shows what a comprehensive hiking companion this watch is too. It really makes me wonder why I’d ever opt for the larger and more expensive Fenix 5X. Battery life is better and it looks more rugged, sure, but this does really well too. More on battery life below.
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The Garmin Connect app, as I’ve said before, is too cluttered. It tries to offer everything for everyone without focusing on automatically personalising to the user. Of course you can spend time moving everything about to do that so I’m not logging this as a complaint, just pointing it out.
Diving into data is great in the Connect app on your phone or computer, with graphs and the ability to compare data like your hill sprints and heart rate or cycling and cadence. Thanks to all the in depth running metrics you can really analyse and improve your running. The vibrating metronome option on the watch is great to get your cadence on point when running, for example.
Garmin Forerunner 935 – Battery life and charging
I had the watch on all week with exercise nearly daily and sleep tracking each night – it just kept going. Garmin says it’s a two week battery life with 24 hours of constant GPS and heart rate tracking. Who is ever going to use more than that? I’ve even done ultra marathons and not needed more than this can provide. Perhaps if you’re camping for days, that extra life in the Fenix 5X would be a welcome safety net. But then you would probably carry a mobile charger anyway.
The latest generation of cable connector is really great, it just pops in and fits well – it’s also universal across devices like the Forerunner 935 and Fenix ranges. The battery in the Forerunner 935 isn’t massive so you can charge to full in an hour or so – which feels super rapid after being used to phone charging times.
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Should I buy the Garmin Forerunner 935?
In short, yes. This watch might not be the cheapest, it might not be the prettiest but it could very well be the best. Yup, there I said it, this is the best GPS watch I’ve tested in over a decade. As Garmin has developed and I’ve tested each device along the way I’ve seen the improvements appearing in different devices. This is the first time I’ve seen all those improvements perfected and out in one science-defyingly small device.
This watch is not cheap for exactly that reason, it can’t be cheap to make something this advanced – and that’s not even taking into account the years of development and experience. Perhaps that bezel, my only complaint, is still there to stop that price from growing even higher. Hats off to Garmin on the Forerunner 935, it’s the most perfect sports GPS watch yet.
If you do any sport that could be improved with tracking, which is most, this watch will help you do exactly that. The more expensive package with chest strap is ideal for developed athletes looking for more insightful data but for everyone else the watch alone does the job, and well.