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Just over a month ago, Garmin introduced three one-piece products, the Forerunner 230 and 630, which replaced two models that had been on the market for quite some time, the FR220 and FR620. Gamin 235 It also came to replace another model within the range, the FR225, but this one has only been on sale for a few months. A premature replacement, but not because of problems with the first model, but simply because of the adoption of an optical sensor of its own and a purely commercial manoeuvre.
I've been alternating between them for several weeks now, so I have a good idea of what they offer. I started with the Forerunner 230, the first one I received since I bought it directly from an official dealer with the intention of being able to offer you the test as soon as possible. At the moment I'm publishing the test only with the data from the 230 and later I'll add the specific details of the Garmin 235. Both watches are the same, except for the optical pulse sensor (and the rest of the options that revolve around it). As for the Forerunner 630, it's one step up in terms of performance. You'll also have a test over the next few weeks, since I'm already working on it.
As you know, I always like to make it clear that all the tests I do are totally independent, I reflect my opinion; what I write are my impressions of use like any other athlete, and my hand never shakes if I have to criticize any product. And all this is possible because I maintain absolute independence from the brands, thus ensuring that there is no pressure to write a more or less favorable opinion.
Don't forget that if you want to show your gratitude for the content I make and want to help support the site, you can buy your new Garmin Forerunner 230 or 235 through the links I provideThat way I get a small commission for each device (or any other item you buy), which is what allows the website to continue and covers some of the work I do.
And now that I've explained the test conditions, let's move on to the in-depth analysis of the Garmin 230 and 235.
- Possibility to configure different sport profiles
- VO2Max, race forecast, recovery time, records... except race dynamics the same as top-of-the-range models
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Bluetooth synchronization with your phone for all activities
- First version of the Garmin Elevate sensor on the FR235, slightly more demanding on the battery
- Although it doesn't look bad, plastic feels cheap
I will start with the unpacking of the Garmin Forerunner 230, and when I publish all the data of the FR235 I will add it too, although what you will find inside the box is the same.
The box of the new Forerunners has been modernized, the old packaging was showing the years. The watch I bought for the test is the version without a pulse sensor, if you wear it you will see it specified on the front of the box.
The Forerunner 235's case is basically the same, with the logical differences corresponding to the model included inside, such as having a pulse sensor on the wrist.
The change of package also serves to update the details you see. The new Garmin Connect application is now highlighted.
Similarly, the notifications and advanced features of these new models are also highlighted.
Being the basic version, the content is quite brief. A multi-language instruction manual (it's never too late for you to learn German) and the timing and charging cable. Ah! and the watch, of course. This is the yellow version, a colour exclusive to the FR230. Other options for this model are black and white and purple and white.
In the Forerunner 235 box? Same thing.
The aesthetics are completely similar to the model it replaces, but the design of the dial is more up-to-date and the display is now larger. The diameter of the FR220 has been increased from 25mm to 31.1mm, while maintaining the external size of the watch at 45mm. Both the thickness and the weight are practically identical.
The layout of the buttons is the same. On the right side is the main button, which you will use to start and stop activities, as well as to access the menu and confirm options. Below it is the button for marking laps during training, which you will also use to exit the different menus.
On the left side you will find three buttons, two of which are multi-function. The upper one allows you to turn on the screen illumination and, by holding it down, it allows you to turn off the clock. The other two buttons are scroll buttons.
As you can see, the central button is engraved with the now classic hamburger icon, which is being imposed on all new user interface designs. Depending on the screen you are on, you can use it to enter the specific options of the screen (on the clock, in the widgets, during the activity, etc). To do this you simply have to leave it pressed.
In the back you can find the charging pins. The watch is submersible at 50 meters, so you will have no problem showering or swimming with it.
This is the only point where you will find aesthetic differences between FR230 and FR235, as behind it you will find the optical pulse sensor.
Of course, the cable clamp changes the design, and it is not the same as in the previous models, although in this case it is compatible between FR230, FR235 and FR630, so in all these weeks I have only needed one cable on the desk. Thanks, Garmin!
The connection is made by "biting" into the watch. The socket for inserting the clip is quite well marked, so it is easy to tell when the cable is correctly positioned. The watch is securely fastened, so you can leave it hanging on the charger.
Once you've met him up close, I'll show you everything he's capable of.
There are several new features not found in the models they replace (Forerunner 220 and Forerunner 225 The basic use is the same, you put on the watch, start the activity and run (this is not yet done by the watch for us). But many other things change. For the better.
Starting from the clock menu, which is now accessed from the activity button, one touch of the main button takes you to a preview screen where you have three options. If you press the top scroll button you can change the activity (running, indoor running, cycling or others), scrolling down you will access the menu and if you simply want to start the activity in the active profile, you can do so by pressing the main button again.
The configuration possibilities within the activity have also increased. While in the old models the maximum of data on screen simultaneously was three, in the Garmin 230 and Garmin 235 we can now show up to four on each of them.
You can set up two different displays, to which you can also add a heart rate display, HR zone display and the time of day clock.
All these settings will be specific to the activity you are editing at the moment, so your racing screens do not have to be the same as your cycling screens - in fact, they are usually quite different from each other.
It is also possible to configure different options for each activity such as auto lap (mark laps automatically at the distance you choose), auto pause (the recording stops if you stop), automatic screen switching (the watch alternates screens without the need to press a button) and alerts. These include default alerts (heart rate, run/walk, pace, time, distance, calories) or any other you can think of, as you can customize it to your liking depending on the parameter chosen, such as "call home to say I'm late" after 2 hours of activity.
When you have your watch perfectly configured for your particular tastes, it's time to start running by simply selecting the activity (instead of accessing the menu as you saw before) and the main data screen will appear.
The satellite search is quite fast, usually less than 10 seconds. This is because the clock downloads the updated satellite cache at every sync you make from the clock. And if you have it paired to your phone that cache will be permanently updated.
When you have a satellite signal you can start running. Like all the latest Garmin watches, the instantaneous pace is displayed in multiples of 5 seconds. The data is filtered to avoid continuous pace jumps (for example, when turning a corner). But if you select average training pace or lap pace, then it will go to the second.
If at any time you get lost, because you're running in the mountains, in a city you don't know, or you're just that absent-minded, you can make use of the back to start function. It's a simple navigation (nothing to do with what you can find on a specific mountain clock) in which it will indicate the direction you should follow to reach the starting point, along with the remaining distance in a straight line.
When you finish your workout, you can review the details of your workout globally, and if you don't want to see them right away (because you're trying to find out where your liver went when it came out of your mouth), you can always access the same data in the history menu.
You can also access specific details of each of the laps, marked automatically or manually through the
You will be able to see graphically which FC zones you have been training
And if you have passed any previous record, a message of congratulations will appear on the screen.
The records are for times and distances. The fastest times for 1 km, 1 mile, 5 km, 10 km, half marathon, marathon and the longest distance for running; while for cycling they will be 40 km faster, higher gain in altitude and farther distance.
These records are device-specific, so the first day you use your watch you'll have the fastest mile, fastest mile, longest distance, and so on.
At the end of your training you will also have information about your recovery time, which is the time the watch estimates you should let go for your next intensity training. Usually these times are quite high (especially if you have done an intense training). This does not mean that you should not do any activity in that period of time, but it is recommended that you do not do a high intensity training again (i.e. do not do two zone 4 or zone 5 training sessions one day after the other). This is just an example of how the information is displayed, as I do not have any pictures taken immediately after finishing the training.
It inherits the V02Max calculation function that was present in the FR620. Also in the FR235 with the optical pulse sensor, something that was not normal until now, as it needed a chest sensor to calculate the data accurately. If there is a variation in the maximum data after your training or race it will appear on the screen, or you can access the log from the menu.
Note that to have a stable record of this value it is necessary that the watch learns from you as an athlete for several weeks, especially in high intensity training. For example, in the Garmin Fenix 3 I have a higher value than the FR230, as I have spent more time with the former and it has recorded more training (and especially races).
You can track your training through Garmin Connect and see how your training affects your physical performance.
This value of VO2Max will be directly related to the estimation of possible times for different competitions, I calculate that will appear in the menu "My statistics".
It doesn't mean that debas Obviously if you are not training to run a marathon, you will not be able to do it in the time that the clock indicates.
This feature is already common on Garmin's mid-range watches, so the FR230 and FR235 were no less. In fact, it is one of the features that helps buyers most to choose Garmin as a brand, because it offers the best workout schedule, complete yet easy.
There are two ways to create workouts. The first is through Garmin Connect, where you can create workouts that you or your coach have marked for a particular day (or make one of the plans on the web).
You can schedule them as recurring sessions (workouts that you will do every week); or training for a particular date, which you could add to the calendar on a specific date.
You can then synchronize this training with the clock, and it will tell you step by step what the objective of each stage is. It should tell you if you meet the objective indicated in each of the stages, like the rest of the models in the range, but for some reason I do not know yet have been able to enable it. I do not know if it will be "a feature" (ie now save it for higher models), or some software error. What it will do is mark the laps for you so you can perform the analysis of each of the stages.
You can also schedule interval training from the clock, but it will be a little easier.
You can define warm-up, cool-down, work and recovery periods, each with a specific duration (in time or distance). What you cannot do in this mode is to specify a target for each stage (you cannot indicate that your work interval is between 3:50 and 4:00 as in the image above).
As I said, this is already common in the whole range of Garmin watches. But within the Training menu there is a new feature: the end time estimate. A function not present in previous models, which allows you to enter the distance you choose or simply select one of the default ones.
A screen will be added indicating remaining distance, estimated final time and average pace. You can customize it or select a default distance, such as 10 kilometers.
The clock will calculate your final competition time based on the distance covered and your average pace, which can be used during your training to set race rhythms or in the competition itself to monitor your final time.
Garmin has finally added a cycling mode to its mid-range race clock (previously only present on the 620), which means that when you do activities that involve pedaling you will no longer break all your race records, and we also have support for specific sensors you may have mounted on your bike, such as speed and/or cadence sensors.
To add sensors you simply have to open the menu "Sensors and accessories" and bring it closer to the sensor in question. You don't have to click on the search option because it will do so automatically when you open that menu. Being used to the previous way of having to select "search" to add it, it's a bit complex at first. But the truth is that once you're used to it, it doesn't have much difficulty. And it won't connect to absolutely all the sensors you find around it, but only to those with a high emission power (i.e. near the clock).
In fact, it wouldn't even be necessary to access that menu. You just have to bring the watch close to the sensor in question and, if there isn't one connected for that channel, it will connect automatically, even if we aren't looking for it. This has happened to me, for example, with the Stryd power meter. When you put the watch close to your chest to start the activity, the watch has connected it directly through the pedometer channel, where nothing was connected.
The rule is to put a clock and sensor close together to match.
Using the speed sensor, you can leave the wheel size calibration in automatic, or select the size manually.
What is recommended is that if you are a regular rider, you should use a handlebar holder, which can be the original from Garmin The reason, apart from simple convenience, is that when obtaining GPS data the accuracy will be higher as the watch is facing the sky (at least in road cycling, where you have your wrist turned). You can check the difference in the recorded track in these two images that correspond to the same training. The accuracy in the first case (watch on the wrist) is much lower than that given by a device mounted on the handlebar.
Of course, if you ride Forerunner 235 on the handlebars you won't have pulse data with the built-in sensor, but you can pair it with a chest sensor for your bike workouts.
Finally there is another activity profile called "Other". This will encompass any other sport you want to practice, for which you will be able to create data screens, alerts and other specific settings separate from the running (indoor or outdoor) or cycling modes.
Not only can you set up your screens specifically, but they will also synchronise with Garmin Connect by being bookmarked with another activity profile, so you can keep track of all your activities.
What we don't have is a profile of swimmingFor this reason, neither the Garmin 230 nor the Garmin 235 are compatible with this sport profile. Garmin 735XT which, being a multisport GPS heart rate monitor, does offer support for swimming. In the Garmin 735XT you will find profile of swimming pool and open water swimming.
It's no surprise to find an activity monitor in the Garmin 230 and 235In fact, it has already become a basic function of any watch on the market. In other words, we cannot consider that it does not have the same functions as any activity bracelet, it is clear that it must have more than covered.
We can say that it is divided into two parts: firstly the information shown by the clock and secondly the information synchronized with the online platform.
On the main screen of the watch you can press the scroll button to access the activity monitor page where you will find the daily step count, distance calculation, calories consumed and percentage against the daily step target. All this activity will simply identify you by walk.
When you spend too much time sitting down the clock will show you an inactivity bar to warn you how lazy you are, vibrating and triggering an alert when it thinks you're out of line. That red line will be present on both the activity monitor and the time display.
If you want to erase the warning you'll have to move. A minute's walk will reset the counter. At least until the next time your watch catches you wandering around on the couch again.
The Garmin FR230 or FR235 automatically records the quality of your sleep and identifies the phases of your sleep. There is no need to activate any specific mode, as sleep detection is done automatically on the Garmin server.
All this data is synchronised with Garmin Connect, where you can make a more detailed analysis of your day-to-day, previous days or trends in different days, weeks or months; both step and sleep data. In the gallery below you can see different information that is sent to Connect.
Of course, in the mobile application you will also have access to all these data.
In the case of Forerunner 235, the activity monitor has more features thanks to the optical pulse sensor, because in addition to offering the same functionality as the FR230, it will monitor your heart rate throughout the day. The data recording rate depends on the activity, so as not to negatively affect the autonomy. In that sense, it is behind what Fitbit offers in the Surge, which monitors the pulse every 5 seconds when it is not in activity.
In the case of FR235, this variable rate will depend on whether we are making any movement, so if we are lying on the sofa watching a soap opera the sensor will be activated every 10 minutes approximately, but if we are walking the recording will be much more frequent.
It also has a specific widget where you can check your heart rate at any time, along with a graph of your heart rate.
At the top left you will find your current heart rate, and to the right the resting heart rate for the current day. Below this you will have the pulse graph for the last four hours, along with the minimum and maximum rates for that period (not for the whole day). If you have done an intensity workout in those last 4 hours, you will have the coloured lines in the same tones as the zones.
Additionally, if you press the main button you can access a second screen where you will see the evolution of your heart rate at rest over the last seven days.
And as always, all this data will end up in Garmin Connect, where you'll find the heart rate graph for the day.
But with the logging rate so spaced out there is not much analysis possible except to know when you have done a somewhat more intense physical activity (such as training at the end of the day), although it is easy to check the times of day when I have simply been sitting in front of the computer and when I have been walking to get from one place to another.
Optical pulse sensor (FR235)
The FR230 and FR235 are the same device with a small exception, the optical pulse sensor that is integrated into the FR235. This sensor makes a difference not only in terms of the hardware of the watches, but also in terms of the specific functions of the watch.
The FR235 is not the first Garmin device to integrate this sensor (the first was the FR225At least, as far as the Forerunner range is concerned, because it is the same sensor you can find on the activity wristband Garmin Vivosmart HR who showed up a couple of days earlier.
The Garmin Elevate is an own development, so it has to be analyzed very carefully given its youth, unlike the FR225 sensor, which was a fully tested external sensor (from Mio, the same one you can find at Mio Link).
You can learn more about the operation of optical sensors in the article I did back in the dayBut to give you some quick information, what makes a sensor good is not the lighting or the sensor itself, it is the algorithm that takes care of eliminating the signal noise, produced by the different movements. Polishing this usually takes quite a long time. Months or even years.
The first difference from the FR225 it replaces is that in this case the new Forerunner 235 can use the optical sensor throughout the day, recording the pulse not only during your workouts but also when you're resting. Real-world use? Well, apart from being cool, being able to know your resting heart rate in more detail.
Data collection is variable depending on movement. If the watch does not detect movement (because of the built-in accelerometer), it will record heart rate data every 10 minutes. The more movement you have, the higher the rate of data refresh and recording. Of course, during your workouts, the recording will be every second. When synchronizing data, in Garmin Connect you can see not only those last 4 hours, but also entire days of heart activity, including workout periods.
We can also access the same seven-day graph that you can see from the clock, but strangely the data does not match. My guess is that while one reflects the minimum of the day, on the web what appears is the average frequency at rest.
Remember, all this additional data about the activity is unique to FR235. Even if you pair a sensor with FR230 and wear it all day, it does not have this function.
Transmission of FC by ANT+
Another interesting option offered by the FR235 is that it can be used as a simple pulse sensor, transmitting to other devices through ANT+. That way you could use your FR235 with, for example, an Edge cycling unit (you could also use it as a sensor for another clock... but it would not make sense).
When you use the watch in this mode, as with the Vivosmart HR, you cannot record activity or use the watch normally, so you cannot record activity or view your data screens while transmitting the heart rate via ANT+.
To activate this feature, simply go to the heart rate widget and press and hold the top scroll button to access the specific options for that mode. You will find the "Broadcast Heart Rate" option.
Once the retransmission is activated, you simply have to look for the sensor on the device you want to use to record the training session, and from there, you will have on the screen of the other device the heart rate sent by the FR235.
Remember that ANT+, unlike Bluetooth, allows you to connect a slave device to multiple master devices, so you can have one sensor connected to multiple devices.
Accuracy of the optical sensor
Without doubt, the accuracy of the data provided is the most important thing - anything that can be done with the built-in sensor is useless if the data provided is not correct. Much of the testing carried out with Forerunner 235 has been to test the new Garmin Elevate optical sensor - and to test it in a variety of situations and against a variety of sensors, from traditional sensors such as the Garmin HRM-Run, Stryd Power and Heart Rate Meter, to comparing it with optical sensors such as the TomTom Runner 2 or Mio Link.
We start with the easiest part, a short workout at a constant pace, because this is the type of training where the optical sensors suffer the least, as you will see below.
Except for the cold start, which is quite common with optical sensors as you will see in the rest of the graphs, the rest of the training lines up quite well, with some peaks here and there, but generally showing a good overall result.
I'm going to get a little harder. An interval training using a Vertical Ambit3 paired to the Stryd sensor as a reference.
Here the Forerunner 235 has performed its function perfectly. It starts completely parallel to the sensor on the chest (temperatures have a lot to do with it), the maximum peaks of the intervals have reached the same point and it only loses a little when it comes to recovering pulses, where the Elevate sensor sins of having some lag. Apart from that, a nice graphic overlay.
The following example is a training of increasing pace, where another problem of the Elevate sensor is perceived. The graph is constructed perfectly, until in the 20th minute I increase the pace to start the 10 minutes at higher rates working the cadence.
At this point Forerunner 235 assumes badly, even worse than Vivosmart HR (which uses the same sensor). High cadence rates tend to confuse optical sensors, since the calculation algorithm must remove the noise of the arm movement itself and focus on the pulses.
Here you can see that last section enlarged, where the orange line of the Ambit3 is reasonably stable, and both Vivosmart HR and FR235 jump quite a bit more. And when you slow down, you can see perfectly how both devices with the Garmin Elevate sensor lag behind the Ambit3 reading.
Finally, compared to Mio LinkBoth Mio Link and Stryd are connected to a Suunto Ambit3 to obtain the data.
We will skip the beginning of the activity, where for some reason I don't know the reading was very high even before starting the activity (I tried everything to get it back to its place, leave the activity and start again, clean the sensor, remove and put the watch...) I simply started the activity, I knew that it wouldn't take long to find the right pulse.
As for the rest of the training, warm-up, intensity increase and three short intervals with rest, the data obtained only corroborates what has been said so far. The pulse monitoring is correct at all times, but it is lost when reducing the pulses after the interval has ended. Although it does not always have a lag, for example on the third attempt the delay is not perceived.
As far as cycling activities are concerned, I'm not surprised. The surprise would be that the heart rate reading was moderately good. But as I've seen with other devices (TomTom Runner 2 for example), the data recorded during cycling is totally useless. And the strange thing is that they coincide at some point. Although good, miracles exist and sometimes they do happen.
In this other example the coincidences are somewhat more frequent, but even so the data provided are not very useful.
Today you would not depend on Forerunner 235's sensor as the main pulse sensor when riding your bike, nor would you rely on it to get the data directly into the clock or as an external sensor for another device (such as an Edge computer).
That said, I would have no problem using it as a regular sensor in training or races, knowing what problems can occur on series days, when the drop in heart rate is somewhat slower (I simply set the rest in a certain time, instead of waiting for a particular heart rate).
Compared to another sensor that has recently come on the market, such as the LifeQ sensor that equips the TomTom Runner 2, they are pretty much on par. Perhaps in the case of TomTom you get slightly better results, as the Garmin Elevate's pulse logging is too nervous, presenting many peaks that are especially noticeable when running continuously at a certain pace. Maybe it's because the data processing is different (filtering out the pulse data received from the chest sensor), but Forerunner 235 could use a slight smoothing out in the graphs.
But in exchange for these issues you get 24-hour pulse monitoring and can get an idea of how you're feeling physically easily, thanks to your resting pulse. And don't forget that Forerunner 235 still maintains ANT+ connectivity, so you can always use an external sensor for the most demanding days.
There are two quite important innovations in the Forerunner 230 and 235. The first one is that now, besides receiving signal from GPS satellites it is also compatible with GLONASS. In theory it should improve the reception and positioning quality by having more satellites with which to triangulate the position.
This function can be activated or deactivated as you wish from the menu (independently for each activity profile). You must bear in mind that the use of GLONASS increases the battery consumption, so you must sacrifice one or the other option. The best thing you can do is to try both functions and keep the one that satisfies you the most.
Another important change from the models they replace is that data recording can now be set every second. The FR220 and FR225 only allowed intelligent recording in variable time. At the end of the activity the distances were the same as in other watches with 1-second recording, but they could create tracks with cutouts in curves. Now the tracks are smoother.
I have found good results when comparing the tracks with other devices, both in the case of the 230 and the 235, because they share everything with respect to the GPS. In this first case you can see how both Forerunner 230 and Ambit3 (purple and orange) draw a perfect track, while the Fenix 3 (blue) draws it slightly on the outside. In the upper area of the triangle there are quite a lot of trees that make it difficult to receive the GPS signal, and despite that the result obtained is really satisfactory.
In this case, except for two small excursions on the part of the Fenix 3, the three clocks draw a very similar graph.
As in this case, where Fenix 3 and FR230 draw the graph perfectly, and Ambit3 goes a couple of meters above the actual route.
Cold starts are always complicated. The clocks have not yet connected to all possible satellites and this affects the initial positioning. For example, at this point the Fenix 3 always draws the layout like this (something on the facades of the buildings makes it read bounced signals that confuse the data obtained, as it's not a matter of once or twice, it's always the same thing and in the same point). Even so, FR230 draws a fairly straight graph.
The FR230 interprets the turns on oneself better than the Fenix 3. In this training, when turning around to return on my steps, the FR230 recognizes it perfectly, while the Fenix 3 makes a slightly wider turn.
Very good results at all times, and not only in the recorded tracks, but also in the distance comparisons.
|Garmin FR230||Other devices|
|Evening training 25 November||8.29 km||8.47 km (Fenix 3), 8.32 km (Ambit3)|
|Series with injury||4.06 km||4.10 km (Fenix 3)|
|Progressive training||8.00 km||8.04 km (Ambit3)|
|Night training, twin not yet recovered||2.55 km||2.52 km (630), 2.52 km (Ambit3)|
As you know, Garmin has had a history of somewhat chaotic GPS performance in early software versions, but this is not at all the case with Forerunner 230 or Forerunner 235, which have been performing really well since day one.
Here there are variations between the Garmin Forerunner 230 and the 235. Of course, the optical sensor also consumes battery power, so the autonomy of both models differs, being 16 hours of training in the FR230 and 11 hours in the case of the FR235.
The procedure is the same as I always follow. Clock charged to 100% and to the roof to spend the night in the fresh air.
This time it cost me some extra tests to calculate the autonomy, because after two first tests in which I barely reached 7.5 hours of battery life, I found the problem. The function of turning on the screen with the turn of the wrist was activated. As the watch was in the same position and upwards, it remained with the lighting activated during all that time. To solve that crossroads cost me 2 minutes of scratching my head, until in the third attempt I deactivated the function and completed the test without problems.
It continues the trend of the last Garmin watches, in which the real autonomy is higher than the estimated autonomy. Anyway, the test is done with GLONASS and Bluetooth deactivated, and without connecting ANT+ sensors. The use of GLONASS satellites has an impact of 15-20% on the battery (in this case, specifically 17%), so if we disconnect that factor and connect a sensor (that although the consumption is very low, also consumes battery), it would fit with the 16 hours of battery announced.
The difference between FR230 and FR235 is remarkable, not only in daily use, where the pulse rate obviously affects the battery life, but also during activity, where the sensor weighs down the autonomy.
Today it is quite far from the promised figures, both in duration during the activity (promises up to 15 hours of continuous use) and in combined use, since of the 9 days in watch mode promised (maximum, without GPS use), in my case I find myself charging the watch every 3 or 4 days. This use includes not only activity monitoring with heart rate data, but also notifications and Bluetooth synchronization and activities with GPS use.
Clock, notifications and Connect IQ
If training watches have made progress in any way, it is precisely in their role as everyday watches. Gone are those models that were only used for training and that didn't even give us the time of day. Now they have to do all that and much more.
But that's not all Connect IQ is for. It also allows you to install other widgets in addition to those provided by the phone, applications or different data fields. If you want to learn more about the possibilities of Connect IQ I recommend that you go to the article I published at the time about Connect IQ, as well as the latest developments presented this year.
Within the widgets we have those that are included in the default clock (time, control, notifications, calendar, etc), but we could also add any of the ones you find in the Garmin app storeBelow is a gallery of the different screens you will find in the standby mode, accompanying the screen of the activity monitor.
Not only does it give the time, but you can set different alarms, not only individually, but also with repeatability (daily, weekend or midweek).
A new feature on the FR230 and FR235 is that there is a new way to turn on the screen illumination, and it is through a turn of the wrist. This way, if you activate this option the illumination will turn on when you raise your arm in a gesture of looking at the clock screen. It is not instantaneous, there is a slight delay of half a second.
Mobile notifications are added to the daily clock (for Android and iOS), with this range being the last to be updated. The clock will vibrate when you receive a notification on your phone, showing it on the screen.
You will also be able to view any notifications that you have not yet discarded from your phone through the existing widget. It only allows you to view those notifications, so you cannot interact with them (answer an email or WhatsApp, for example). All you will be able to do is cancel a call from the clock.
You get these because your watch and phone are always in sync via Bluetooth Smart, a low-power wireless connection, so you don't have to worry about your smartphone battery. And thanks to this constant connection your workouts and activities will always be in sync, so as soon as you finish a workout you can find all the details on the web or in the application without having to sync your watch with your computer to analyse it.
Another new feature you'll find in the new Forerunners is that they now allow you to receive lap information by voice, so you'll need to carry your mobile phone with you. If you activate this feature, when you're training and you take a lap (automatically or manually), you'll be able to hear your lap number and the time to cover it through your phone (or headset if you're listening to music).
And of course, you also have the LiveTrack option, which allows you to share your location in real time with anyone you send a link to via the mobile application, but to use this feature you must have your phone with you during your workout.
I have to say I like the Forerunner 230. I like it a lot. I think Garmin has got a round product that offers a lot of features at a reasonable price. If you're a road racer there's no better watch I can recommend.
The reason is simple, the FR230 has many of the features we could only find on the Forerunner 620 before. Things like VO2Max estimation, recovery time and status or race time estimation we only had before on top-of-the-line models. Also, two activity profiles (cycling and others) are added, something we've been asking for for years. The only two features you don't get from the 620 are race dynamics and touch screen, and I don't think either of those could be a reason to miss it. Garmin puts the 230 and 235 at the same performance height as their previous top-of-the-line, and at a lower price.
Add to that the larger screen, Bluetooth connectivity for synchronization and notifications, activity monitor, etc. and you have the best device in the category. And it's a model that comes in quite polished, without major problems.
Right now the only negative thing that can be said about them is that there is some problem with the new devices and Garmin Connect, it does not remember the selection to show the information in kilometers, so from time to time the configuration returns to miles. Apart from that, a very solid behavior in all aspects.
When choosing between the new models (230, 235 and 630), it will depend on your specific needs. In this same article I will add the data of the 235 regarding the optical pulse sensor and the specific functions around it. Also, in the next weeks I will publish the complete test of the 630.
If you've seen the updated list of recommendations, I put Forerunner 230 in first position. Now you know why.
Did you like the test?
I hope you enjoyed this comprehensive review. It took many hours to put it together. If you liked it and want to help, you can comment below and tell me if you liked the test. Or ask your questions, I may have left something along the way. As you may have noticed if you have seen past tests, I will answer all your questions.
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Buy Garmin Forerunner 230
There are three colours for the Garmin FR230: Black and White, Purple and Black and White, and Yellow. And you can choose to buy just the watch or with the HRM Premium pulse sensor. Below are links to some great deals. Buying through them will help you maintain the website and some of my work.
Buy Garmin Forerunner 235
The Garmin FR235 is also available in three colours (black/red, black/grey and black/blue), but obviously there is no pack version with an HRM sensor, as they all have an optical pulse sensor.