As promised, here is my review of the Garmin Forerunner 235, albeit not as comprehensive since I no longer own the watch. Josh pre-ordered me the Forerunner 235 from Amazon and it finally came just in time for our trip to Florida in the middle of December so I can test it out for some outdoor running before bringing it on the treadmill back up north. I love my Forerunner 220 but when I saw the Frost Blue colored strap, activity tracking, and notifications all in one device, it was hard for me to say no to this present.
While in Florida, I wore the watch as an activity tracker (instead of the Garmin Vivosmart HR) for 3 of the days we were there. This meant I wore the watch all day except for when I was sleeping. While the watch is like that of the Vivosmart HR where it could track sleep, the idea of wearing something that large on my wrist to sleep was odd to me. While back home, I wore the watch only for running.
—I absolutely loved the black face with frost blue strap. The strap was also a little more comfortable than that of the Forerunner 220 (though it has never irritated my wrist before). I think it might be due to the extra holes in the strap that allow for a more flexible fit.
—I generally love all the data, stats, and notifications from my Garmin Vivosmart HR, so having a watch (meaning I only needed to wear only one device) with a bigger face to track all of this was even better!
—It was so much easier reading notifications (i.e. text messages or other alerts you set up on the phone) on the watch due to the larger face.
—The menu of the watch was very similar to that of the Forerunner 220 and Vivosmart HR so it was fairly easy to get the watch set up.
—There are more running features to this watch than that of the Forerunner 220. Not only can it track heart rate, it has a VO2 max estimator, recovery advisor, and race predictor all of which are not on the Forerunner 220. There is also the accelerometer, cadence tracker, and storage of personal records similar to that of the Forerunner 220.
—The watch similar to that of the Forerunner 220 and Vivosmart HR can wirelessly sync with Garmin Connect. This allows for easy access to all the data from the app right on your phone.
—Heart rate monitor did not work as well as the Vivosmart HR one. The main reason I didn’t like the new Forerunner 235 is because the active heart rate was off. When I was running a very easy, slow-paced 3-mile run, it said my escalated to 191 bpm and average was around 170. This I knew was wrong based on feel and the Vivosmart HR. Typically my heart rate has been around 130-140 for easy runs based on the Vivosmart HR. At one point, I decided to wear both on different arms though and the resting heart rate was almost exact but the active heart rate was very different on the Forerunner 235. I tried the watch out on multiple runs during the week I had it and every time it showed my heart rate went above 190 bpm for very easy runs. When the heart rate is wrong, it also affects the recovery advisor which then said I needed to rest for 5 days after a 3 mile easy run?!
—I would prefer to wear an all-in-one device meaning watch and activity tracker, it doesn’t have to be a GPS watch but if it were it would be an added benefit. That is the reason I really liked the Forerunner 235 when I read about its launch. However, this watch was just too bulky and the color scheme was not neutral enough (I know the black/gray one would be better but I would still prefer something more plain watch-like) for me to wear around all day and to work.
All in all, the cost of the Forerunner 235 at the higher price of $329.99 was not worth it due to the some of the issues I experienced with heart rate monitor. In a lot of the forums I read this was a common complaint but for some it seemed to resolve itself. I ended up returning the watch after a week and perhaps didn’t allow the time it needed to adjust. In my case, I already had a GPS watch I really liked (Forerunner 220) and an activity tracker that tracked heart rate (Vivosmart HR) that it didn’t make sense for me to keep this one. Though with all the new features with notifications and activity tracking, I am starting to consider the new version of the Apple Watch (hopefully it comes out soon, I don’t have much patience!).