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The Garmin Forerunner 45 was presented along with two bestsellers, the Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 945These two are the ones that occupied most of the public's interest, but we must not forget the renewal that Garmin proposed for its low range.
And what a renewal, because with the FR 45 Garmin it repeats the recipe of the other two models: make the new watch have the functions of the previous range immediately above it. This means that in the Forerunner 45 we find almost everything we had before in the FR235The new system has been designed with the consequent renewal of hardware (new GNSS chipset, new optical sensor, etc).
The cheapest Forerunner in the range is no longer that simple, cheap watch with very few functions. It is now much more capable in many ways, although that can also work against it: anyone who wants a cheap, simple Garmin is going to be orphaned. Yes, you can still get hold of a Forerunner 35but by the time they're gone...
I've been testing the Forerunner 45 for a few weeks now, enough to know what it is proposing. Garmin has provided a test unit that, once the analysis is complete, will be sent back. There is no compensation from the brands when they perform these tests, which are totally independent. It's important to remember this, because all the tests I perform are done in the most objective and impartial way possible.
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Without further ado, shall we talk about all the details of Forerunner 45?
- Mid-range performance, now in the low range
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Ability to follow advanced trainings, either own or downloaded
- You've lost that simple, easy-to-use clock feeling
- Specific strap and anchorage which, if broken, forces the watch to be pulled
- High price compared to the competition
New Garmin Forerunner 45
As I was saying, Forerunner 35 was a simple watch. Easy to use, easy to set up and with very few options that could mess you up. But it did give you access to the Garmin ConnectThat simplicity and ease of use was the main selling point for a watch that was certainly very basic.
But the Forerunner 45 goes furtherObviously it continues the same path of trying to be a watch easy to use and without presenting many complications for a user who is usually more basic, but still incorporates a lot of functions These are its new features, compared to the Forerunner 35:
- They are now two the available modelsThe Forerunner 45 (42mm circumference) and the smaller Forerunner 45S with only 39mm
- Change the format. It used to be square and now it's gone to round screenlike the rest of the range. It also happens to have 5 buttons instead of the 4 on the Forerunner 35
- Change the screen which is logically round, but now it's colorfulFR35 only had a black and white screen
- It allows change the dial of the clock through Connect IQ (but does not support applications or widgets)
- New wrist pulse sensorThe Garmin Elevate v3
- Function Body Battery to measure the resources available
- New Sony GNSS chip with support for GPS, GLONASS and Galileo
- Sports Profiles differentiated, e.g. cycling
- Constant heart rate recording at rest, with alerts if a certain range is exceeded
- Alerts: of rhythm/speed
- Compatible with advanced trainings that can be designed from the application or from the web. Until now, no watch in the lower range has ever offered this possibility
- It allows to synchronize trainings of Garmin Coach and has support for training calendar, so you can follow training plans for 5K, half-marathon, etc.
- Incident detectionIt sends a message to the chosen contacts in case of a sudden deceleration or any situation that the watch may assume to be a fall. It is conditional on carrying the phone with you as it will be the one to take care of the communication (the watch itself is not capable of doing this)
- VO2Max estimation
- Support for ANT+ sensors and, as a novelty, also for Bluetooth Smart
- Battery life up to 1 p.m. in GPS mode
Not bad for a watch whose focus is on simplicity, right? Technically there's nothing new about Forerunner 45 that stands out, it just does because many of the features that were reserved for higher end models are now available in the lower end.
There's a downside to all this: the price has gone up from the model it directly replaces. Both the Garmin Forerunner 45 and Forerunner 45S come to market with a price tag of $199.
Garmin will continue to maintain the Forerunner 35 on sale (for the moment), precisely to cover that access segment, as well as a simple and straightforward clock for those who want nothing more than rhythm and distance data.
But this analysis is to talk about the new model, not the old one, so let's focus on the Forerunner 45 and Forerunner 45S.
Garmin FR45 at a glance
The first thing to note is that the Garmin Forerunner 45 is offered in two different sizes: the FR45 and FR45S. There is only one thing that changes, the diameter of the watch. The Forerunner 45 has 42mm diameter, while the Forerunner 45SThe smaller ones are... 39mm.
Where does that reduction in size come from? Exclusively from the size of the bevel, the screen is the same size in both cases (1,04″ in colour, unlike Forerunner 35), so all you have to decide is what space you want the watch to occupy on your wrist.
But everything else? Exactly the same. Functions, autonomy, thickness... Everything is the same between 45 and 45S. From now on I will refer to both models as Forerunner 45but I include both models.
As I indicated earlier, the display has been upgraded from the monochrome display that was present on the Forerunner 35 to a transflective technology colour display. This type of display always remains on and unlike an LED display, the more light there is, the clearer it looks.
Naturally, in a watch designed for outdoor use and enjoyment, that's what we want.
Not only has the user interface been modernized, it is now shared with the rest of the current range. Gone is the interface used in the older models where everything was based on lines of text. Now we also have quick access menus, icons, etc.
This change in the interface comes with the inclusion of one more button, again matching the rest of the range. We now have three buttons on the left side and two on the right.
In terms of pure performance, it's pretty much the same as what Garmin offered with the Forerunner 235, although it's simpler in features like smart clocking. Forerunner 45 doesn't allow you to install applications, widgets or data fields downloaded from Connect IQ. For some this will be a major limitation, for the vast majority who see in the FR45 a simple clock... they won't care at all.
We can download screen balls, which you can do from the Connect IQ.
Although the clock does not include the option to download widgets, we do have several that we can see in the clock. They are screens with weather information, notifications, activity monitor and other generic information of the activity. You can choose which ones to show from the application.
So you can see information on the clock about things like heart rate (with a graph of the last few hours), activity monitor details, notifications, etc.
Among them all, one stands out, which is Body BatteryThis measurement tells you how much energy you have left to finish the day, and recharges at night depending on how you've rested.
Think of it as your mobile phone battery. Throughout the day and depending on your use (if you are sitting, if you are training, if you are constantly moving...), the remaining energy will decrease and you will be able to see at all times what is available to you.
This is a good indication of whether you have enough energy for a training series, or if you have had a very difficult day and you should opt for a recovery session.
As for the activity details, you will be able to see them on the clock itself, but the best way to check them is, without a doubt, through the Garmin Connect application on your mobile.
These details include heart rate during the 24h of the day, identification of sleep and the different phases, level of stress, steps taken and at what time. etc. It is practically the same thing that you will have with much more expensive Garmin watches (beyond specific functions such as Pulse Ox), in this aspect the experience is the same with all models.
As the title of this section heads, this is just a quick review of the Forerunner 45 to see what it has to offer and what you should know. We're going to move on to talk about the sports features, which is ultimately what you're most interested in knowing about this watch.
Garmin FR45 during sport
The fact that it is a watch intended for the lower end of the range means that it has limitations somewhere. This is normal as there have to be things available for higher end models. In this case the limitations come in the configuration options for the sports profiles, but not in the amount of sports available.
The Forerunner 45 is, above all, a running watchWhich is not to say it's the only sport you can play.
By default, the following sports profiles are available: running, treadmill, bike, walking and cardio. And through the application you can activate a few more sports like elliptical or yoga.
Perhaps the most notable absence is swimming, but as I said earlier... cuts must be made to justify the existence of superior models.
Each of these profiles can be configured independently; although here we will also find more limitations than in higher models, starting with the data screens.
In the case of Forerunner 45, each screen can have a maximum of three pieces of data. There are only three display possibilities, with 1, 2 or 3 fields. In addition, these fields cannot have the description above the figure as usual, but you will simply be looking at the data.
And how do we know what each thing is? When you move between screens, the description of that data field appears briefly, which will then be replaced by the data itself.
The problem is that it only appears the first time you access that screen. The next time you reach the screen in the rotation, the description will not appear, so you better remember what data you have configured.
The number of screens you can configure is not too high either, you can only have 5 available. Although it is true that at the moment of truth we do not have enough data to fill them in because -here the main limitation- the data to be selected is very basic: time, distance, pace, calories, heart rate, heart rate zone, lap time, lap distance, lap pace, average pace, cadence, steps and time of day.
Then we must take into account the differences in each sport, for example in cycling instead of having a field of rhythm we will have a field of speed.
Is it too little data? I honestly think not, it's enough for the type of user Garmin wants to target with this watch. If you need more data on screen or more selection options, you'll have to go up a notch and opt for the Forerunner 245.
The rest of the options are the usual ones and without any extra frills. Alert configuration (of rhythm, distance, run/walk, etc.), automatic and manual lap, and automatic pause.
Although there is a last option to highlight, which is the possibility of configuring the satellite reception in three different ways: GPS, GPS + GLONASS or GPS + Galileo onlyThis is thanks to the incorporation of the new Sony GNSS chipset, the same one that is present in all the watches presented in 2019 (and previous years) not only in Garmin, but in the rest of the manufacturers.
But if there is one thing that stands out about Forerunner 45's sports performance, it is that it is now fully compatible with advanced trainingsAnd not only those that you can create in the application for a day of series, also when it comes to downloading training plans from Garmin Coach.
These are the ones you can configure yourself in the application, where you can select the different phases, rhythms, objectives and the way to fulfill them. It is quite fast and intuitive.
Once you have set up your workout, you can synchronize it to the clock and select it before you go out to train. The clock will indicate at each moment what step we are at and if we are meeting our objective.
Using the example of the previous training, we will have 15 minutes of warm-up without any kind of goal, beyond the jogging pace you want to do. After a minute and a half break, a series of 5 1 kilometer intervals will start, for which there is a set running pace: between 3:35 and 3:45 min/km. If you go over that pace (both above and below) the clock will warn you with vibration and tones.
After completing the kilometer, there is automatically a two-minute recovery period, after which we return to the interval (and there are "only" four minutes left).
Another novelty is the Garmin Coach adaptive training plansIt's a free training platform that allows you to choose a target distance, to be performed in a given time. Once you select your target, Garmin Coach will ask you which days you want to train and you can even choose one to be the day of the long roll.
Once the workout is created, it's not a fixed thing that you have to stick to, Garmin Coach will modify the workout plan to suit you. If one day you haven't trained as you should, it will be taken into account in the following days' workouts, adapting them to those changes.
I leave you this gallery so that you can see for yourself what it offers and what you can select.
You know the best part? IT'S TOTALLY FREE!
I haven't tried them personally because my main sport is triathlon and my training is guided by my coach, so I can't tell you more about how it works. Anyway, I guess you understand the concept of how it works.
When you have finished training we now have a new training summary screen, which includes an estimate of your VO2max for that session, and only that particular session.
In this picture for example you can see the result after a very smooth activation workout before a race. My VO2max is usually superior (not much more, but superior), and yet it is the one applied to that workout.
You can see the rest of the details if you scroll down, but it is more limited than in other superior models.
If you want to see all the details, you'll have to wait until you've paired up the activity (via Bluetooth with your phone is easiest), but then you'll be able to see it both in the application and in Garmin Connect.
This is quite standard with respect to any other model, the main difference being the amount of data it is capable of recording.
Optical heart rate sensor
The Garmin Forerunner 45 includes the latest optical pulse sensor, the Garmin Elevate V3. The only difference it has from what's offered on more expensive models is that the pulse oximetry sensor is not active, but for the rest it's exactly the same.
As a reminder, keep in mind that a wrist pulse meter does not work the same way on every body. We are all different, and if we also put things like skin tone, tattoos, body hair into the equation... the difference from person to person can be quite large.
In my tests it is not that the spectrum of users is very broad: it is me, myself and I. So what works well for me might not do it for someone else, or it might be better.
But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to follow some guidelines to wear the sensor. It should be tight (but not cut off your circulation), enough to keep the watch from moving freely on your wrist, leaving a separation of approximately one finger from the wrist bone. By following these details you will ensure that you get the best results that your conditions can offer.
Well, I'll start the tests with this more or less constant pace training, but with several slopes in between. It's not as easy for the sensor as a flat ride at a constant pace, but it's not as difficult as a series training either.
It is an intermediate difficulty, but one that any sensor today must be able to record correctly.
The line corresponding to Forerunner 45 is the dwelling. It has a somewhat hesitant start, especially between minutes 4 and 10. While the other sensors have a similar behaviour, FR45 seems not to find its place in the world.
It's possible that I wore the watch without pressing it enough (and look what I just said...) and adjusted it a little more, but from that moment on everything stabilizes again.
Even in the final stretch, where it's the Polar Vantage M who seems to have the same doubts as FR45 did at first.
Meanwhile the other two sensors, the Polar H10 paired to the Garmin Forerunner 945 and the Polar OH1+ (which was simply recording the activity without being paired to any other device) more or less coincide throughout the training.
This time I'm looking for a more constant pace, but both the beginning of the route and the end (it's a round trip route) are full of slides, so the intensity changes again, which is the most difficult thing for the optical sensor.
In this case both the Garmin Forerunner 945 like the Garmin Forerunner 935 I had them synchronized with the sensor HRM-Tri And besides the FR45, of course with its sensor, it had the Polar OH1+ I had one last watch on my right wrist, the Polar Ignite, but I forgot to synchronise it before resetting it to send it back to Polar the next day 🤦♂.
I wanted to leave the first graph as it came out, with all the mixed lines of the HRM-Tri sensor on both Garmin watches, but this is what I mean to tell you that the sensor is not going through its best moments.
While the optical sensors remain more or less stable, going up and down accordingly, the Garmin chest sensor keeps going up and down, making everything much more complicated to read.
So let's just leave the chart of the Polar OH1+ along with the Garmin Forerunner 45, to show everything more clearly. And what do we have?
Almost perfect. Both the OH1+ and the FR45 coincide during the entire 90-minute workout. There are only two moments when they vary: in the middle of the workout I stop to drink from a fountain, and at the peaks in the last quarter of the workout.
At the time of making the stop we can see that there is a slight delay in the graph of Forerunner 45. It is something habitual and always present in the optical sensors of wrist (if you notice, the OH1+ doesn't have that problem), nevertheless in all the tests I have found that the delay of the sensor Garmin Elevate v3 has always been smaller than the one of the previous v2.
There are a few more strange spikes around the 1:06 point, but I can't determine who's taking the correct reading. Not even with the data from the chest sensor, because in this workout it's been so unstable that I don't know which one to listen to.
So let's move on to another example, this time mountain racing, so the changes in intensity will also be assured.
In this case, in addition to the Forerunner 45, I have a Fenix 6 making use of the optical sensor (the same as that of the FR45, but on a heavier watch) and the Forerunner 945 paired with a Polar H10. And of course the OH1+.
In this case it is the Fenix 6 that suffers the most. I count up to 7 peaks at the beginning of the activity that are irregular.
Except for peak number 1, the rest are very sudden climbs that, in my opinion, are caused by the weight of the watch. The first minutes of this training are on a very steep climb (average slope of 19%), so the brace is quite high, which can cause the watch to move due to its high weight. However the Forerunner 45, much lighter, has not had that problem at any time.
But it's not the usual thing, since we usually won't have those slopes all the time. In the rest of the training, with much more normal slopes, you can see how the behaviour of all the sensors is on par.
In general I see a better performance compared to previous models, something I've been able to see with all the tests I've done on watches using this sensor, so I can already confirm that the sensor, as such, has improved.
However, the fact that the sensor has improved does not mean that we can still completely forget about the sensor on the chest. It will still be necessary for the days of series training or for the bike, but I can tell you that on days of shooting at a constant pace I have no problem trusting the data from the optical sensor. As long as there are no sudden changes in the intensity it has no major reliability problem.
Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS
The FR45 includes, of course in 2019, Sony's GNSS chipset. main strength is the remarkable increase in autonomía that all the manufacturers have achieved although they're still trying to tame the measurements they get.
Another advantage of this chipset is the ability to use additional satellite configurations. The Forerunner 45, like the higher-end models, allows for three configurations: GPS, GPS + GLONASS and GPS + Galileo.
Just like the optical sensor tests you saw earlier, the GPS comparisons are done the same way: with the watches accompanying me in my regular workouts.
Carrying Forerunner 45 as well as other models, and checking where the problems appear, I have no defined route to establish a score for the simple reason that there are other external factors that we should never forget.
Things like clouds, leaves on trees or simply the satellite position can alter the GPS results from one day to the next, which is why I prefer to do this type of comparison instead of having a predefined path and assess it from there.
I'll start the comparison with this pre-race activation training. It's a fairly simple course, but the difficulty lies in the low pace at which I perform it.
All three are Garmin. All three use Sony's GNSS chipset. However the results are disparate, which proves that not everything is the chipset used, in the end the most important thing is the adjustment of the software to other features such as the antenna used in each model.
This is the start of the route. As with optical sensors, the start is always more complicated, because the clocks still do not have the maximum number of satellites found. If we add to that the running between tall buildings makes it difficult.
It's not that the result is bad, but it doesn't go beyond what is acceptable. In this section, further on, you can see how none of the three clocks have hit the real route. I've gone past where I marked the line in orange. As for the tracks, they are all straight, but displaced to a greater or lesser extent. Both the Fenix 6 and the Forerunner 45 are displaced by about a metre, while the FR945 is a little further on.
As soon as I get to a more open area quickly all three clocks are back in tune.
However, the mistakes keep coming. I've marked in orange which was my real route to enter that turn. There's a small kerb so you have to get around a fence.
None of the three succeed in making the turn correctly, making a kind of loop that is not real. Of course I'm also asking you to record the change of direction made in a tile correctly, but that's what the difficult tests are for, right?
But I don't want to be left alone with that. Once we continue the path parallel to the river, the Fenix 6 seems to be unclear about where we are going, while the other two clocks are in a perfectly straight line.
And it's not the only trouble spot for the Fenix 6. Further on it has detours and curve cuts again. Curiously enough it goes off the road to come back, and so on.
Both Forerunner 945 and Forerunner 45 are perfectly aligned at this point.
Now let's play some field. This is a route around a small peak that, except for a short stretch, has no tree cover of any kind. Beyond the low speed at the steepest moments (about 20% of slope), there is not much more difficulty. The clocks used are the same as in the previous example.
In general, the results on this route have been better than the previous example (where the sky was quite cloudy), and there are some curious things, such as the fact that the Google maps are not well aligned.
You can see it perfectly in this picture.
On the way I've made the mark I pass the uphill and downhill. With three watches it's a total of 6 tracks. The 6 are perfectly aligned, and yet they don't pass the way you see in the picture. So there are several possibilities:
- In a few months the road has eroded and changed location (the satellite photo is from 2019)
- All three clocks have failed to rise and fall, coinciding in exactly the same error
- Although there is a path I have decided to climb the slope to 20% doing cross country, because I am that great
- Google does not have the image aligned correctly
I'm almost stuck with option 4... Which means you don't always have to trust these satellite images.
This is the area where you cross a fairly lush forest. You can't see the path in the picture, but the three clocks are fairly aligned. There is only one that moves slightly, which is the Fenix 6.
Something that keeps repeating itself for the rest of the route.
Again, both Forerunner 945 and Forerunner 45 mark the same layout, with the Fenix 6 being the only one that deviates slightly. Clearly Garmin must continue working on the Fenix firmware, which has just arrived on the market and has not had any updates, while both FR945 and FR45 have received updates in this time.
However, when the day is clear and you run through areas without much difficulty (no trees or tall buildings) the results you can expect are very good, as is the case below.
Although that doesn't mean that we see perfection, mainly because that doesn't exist. In the image below you can see how the errors (light ones, that is) happen. First in the curve that can be seen by the Polar Vantage MThe first is a new route, deviating from the actual route marked by FR45 and FR945.
And a little further on it is FR945 that is doing the roundabout wrong, while FR45 has been the only one to draw the roundabout exactly as I have done.
And yet further on it is the one that fails, making a totally straight line when passing through another small roundabout.
Why the error? While the Polar and the 945 record GPS data per second, the FR45 only allows recording that Garmin calls intelligent.
This means that the clock records location data in a variable way. This can be every second or every 3 seconds, as you see fit. At that location you can see the pattern clearly marked, having taken one point before entering the roundabout and another at the exit. The result is a completely straight line.
However, later on there is quite a consensus (although the Polar deviates slightly).
Even in this area where I really like to see the watches recover from a loss of signal after going under the motorway, none of the three have suffered in doing so or done any strange things.
The summary? I haven't seen anything strange in the graphs of Forerunner 45, neither in the examples I've put nor in the other trainings where I've used FR45. Of course there are errors, there always will be, but you can't say that I've identified constant unsolved patterns as I can see in the graphs of Vantage M or Fenix 6.
The only drawback I can put to it is the intelligent data recording and not being able to use per second recording (something that in 2019 no longer makes any sense, but Garmin is determined to keep it up). But the only thing it can cause is graphics with slight cuts in the curves, when you see rhythms or distances on the clock it doesn't affect at all, unless you're going to run a marathon doing that.
Garmin Forerunner 45 Competition
There is no doubt that Garmin has added a lot of features to the Garmin FR45 that were not previously present in the lower range, but it is equally true that this has meant a price increase of 50 with regard to FR35 And if you are looking for something simple and cheap...
Where is Forerunner 45's main problem? In its competition. FR35 is not its only intra-brand competition, there is also the Forerunner 235 In some aspects it's a better option (full but old Connect IQ, 4 data per screen and more to choose from), but there's a generation between the two and it's something you can notice, especially in the optical pulse sensor and the new functions that have been coming into the Garmin range (Galileo, incident detection, Bluetooth support...).
But the situation gets worse when we look at the competition. There's for example the Polar M430which in some respects is more powerful (although Garmin also has things to breastfeed for) and savings are importantNot to mention the Polar Vantage MThe Forerunner 45 is a much more powerful watch than the Forerunner 45 and is available at very similar prices to little Garmin's.
Buy Garmin Forerunner 45
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Opinion Garmin Forerunner 45
In short, as I told you in the FR45 competition section, their main obstacle is the price. Not because it is not worth it, which is debatable (it should not be forgotten that despite being low range, it has grown in possibilities); but mainly because of what other manufacturers offer for similar prices.
The Forerunner 35 has one thing that makes it special: its simplicity. It does this because it has hardly any options with which to dizzy a user who is not interested in additional data. Although the FR45 is not a complicated watch, it is no longer as simple as the 35, so it has lost that special factor.
I don't want to forget the Forerunner 45S, though. If you're looking for a watch that's totally focused on sport and is small in size (less than 40mm), then things change, because there aren't many things on the market that are that small.
I say all this with reference to current prices, of 189 ?. However, I think that Garmin has prepared the launch of this watch with more than enough margin to undertake price reductions not only in seasons of high sales, but to lower the base price permanently. If we were talking about a price of 139 ?, the situation would change radically.
Thanks for reading!