In this post
- Garmin Forerunner 935 or Garmin Fenix 5, differences
- What's new with Garmin FR935
- Sports and activity measurement on the Forerunner 935
- Performance Metrics
- Navigation on the Garmin Forerunner 935
- Garmin Forerunner 935 GPS
- Optical pulse sensor on FR935
- Sensors and Garmin Forerunner 935
- Connectivity and WiFi
- Opinion Garmin Forerunner 935
- Buy Garmin Forerunner 935
- Help the site
The arrival of the Garmin Forerunner 935 took us by surprise. Announced only three months after the Fenix 5, in this Garmin 935 we find practically the same watch with some slight changes. We could think that it is the low-cost version of the Fenix 5 as it is made entirely of plastic... but nothing is further from the truth. Everything has its reasons.
So what is this Garmin FR935 and how does it fit into the range? Well, that's exactly what you'll see in this test. If you've already read the one on the Phoenix 5 This one will ring a bell, of course, because the software of both watches is practically identical, but as you can see the differences are in small details.
And as I always like to say, in this test you'll see two different Forerunner 935's. One with a black strap that has been temporarily loaned by Garmin, and the one with a yellow strap (which corresponds to the triathlon pack) that has been bought by me in the store. The first one will be returned directly to Garmin once the test is over (actually, it's already back with them), while the other one will stay with me and I'll use it to solve all your doubts.
Why do I say this? To point out that I do not receive any compensation for performing these tests, so my opinions about the Garmin 935 or any other device I test are my own, without any pressure from the manufacturers.
The way this website is maintained is thanks to your support, so if you like the work I do you can show your gratitude by buying your Garmin Forerunner 935 (or any other product) via Amazon.
I've been testing these FR935s in a wide range of situations for many weeks now, so I've got clear references to all the good things and improvements the new top of the range Forerunner series has to offer, so let's go through all the details of the test.
I had two options when it came to showing you the unpacking of the watch and everything inside the box. Although I'm sure it will sell a lot more the normal version, it's much more interesting to do it with the Pack Tri version because there's a lot more to see.
In this case, this is how the box is presented. Remember, the Tri Pack is the one that includes the watch with the yellow strap. But it is not only the strap, it also has certain details in this same color that we will see later. On the front of the box also indicates, "Forerunner 935 Tri Bundle".
We make "pop"... and you know, as the commercial of the famous brand of potato chips (which really is neither potato nor fried) says, there's no stopping now.
But let's go with what's under the first tray. If this were the normal version, this is what we'd find inside. Lots of paper and a sync and charge cable. Ah, also a clock.
What does the 150 euro difference between one model and another buy us (at least, officially)? Well, all that you see in the next image.
From left to right, this is what we see.
- Rapid extraction kit, which I'll explain in more detail hereYou can see the rubber pads for attaching the bracket to the handlebars of your bike, the typical Garmin quarter-turn bracket, and the two complete brackets that you can see in more detail in the link above.
- HRM-Swim pulse sensorfor swimming in the pool.
- HRM-Tri pulse sensorBasically it is a HRM-Run sensor with memory for swimming (see links for details).
- Additional black strap. It's the same as the yellow one but in black. You can put it on the watch if you want it to be more discreet, or place it directly on the quick release holder.
- Two torx-type screwdrivers for removing the belt pin.
But hey, let's go with the watch. There's no big novelty in its design. Five buttons in the classic Garmin layout and no touch screen.
There's more news on the back of the watch: first the Garmin Elevate sensor, which is now much smaller and barely protrudes from the back.
Secondly, the new charging connector, which the Fenix 5 has already released and which promises to become a standard connector for the whole range (or at least I hope so).
It's a smart connector, so it can be connected in any direction.
If you have to put some glue to the new connector is not being able to charge the watch while we are using it, for situations of extreme need of battery (ultras or last moments of an Ironman) Although you can do it wearing the watch in your hand, because it can charge while it continues recording the activity.
If you've noticed the image, Forerunner 935 is missing the QuickFit strap that was introduced with the Fenix 5. It is compatible with the system and can be purchased as an accessory (either original or compatible, much cheaperalthough he tries to hook it up before swimming in open water)
What are the differences between the normal pack and the Tri pack, besides the included contents? The color of the strap and the accents of the watch.
On the front you can see that the FR935 in black has the main button ring in silver, as well as the small mark on the screen pointing to the Start-Stop button. On the Tri pack model these details are also in yellow.
In its side view we can also see the same difference in the ring under the bezel, which also has the colors silver or yellow in both versions.
You've seen, the Forerunner 935 and the Fenix 5 have a lot in common, so let's clear up the differences between the two models before we go any further.
Garmin Forerunner 935 or Garmin Fenix 5, differences
Obviously, the first thing we have to do is point out what the differences are between the FR935 of the Fenix 5. As I noted at the beginning, in many ways the Garmin 935 is a Fenix 5 in a different body. The software is almost identical, with very slight changes between the two models. Both are at the same height in terms of training possibilities and everything they can do.
In other words, there's nothing the Phoenix 5 can do that the 935 can't do, and vice versa. So... what changes between the two?
- First and foremost, the material of construction. The 935 is made entirely of plastic. But not "plastic" in a derogatory way, but a material with a good quality feel. Garmin indicates that it is a fiber-reinforced polymer. In fact it's the same material as the Fenix 5 case, only this one has a stainless steel bezel and back cover. The glass is glass, proper. Probably polycarbonate glass (i.e. not mineral), but despite being of chemical origin it is not an easy plastic to scratch.
The exclusive use of this polymer results in a much lighter watch. The 935 weighs almost half as much as the Fenix 5 (49 grams versus 85), as well as reducing its thickness by just over 1mm. And despite being 47mm in diameter, it feels smaller on the wrist than the Fenix 5, partly thanks to its lightness.
- While only the sapphire crystal versions of the Fenix 5 have WiFi connectivity, the FR935 has a wireless connection in any of its versions (i.e. the normal one with a black strap or the tri-pack with a yellow strap).
- The Garmin FR935 is cheaper. At official retail prices the top of the Forerunner range (without pack) is priced at £549 while the Fenix range is priced at £599, rising to £699 if you want it with WiFi (and sapphire glass, of course).
- There are some differences in widgets and applications. For example, alongside the 935, a Training Peaks application was introduced that allows training on this platform to be imported directly into the clock. But like any Connect IQ application, it can also be installed on other compatible models. The same goes for widgets or dials, there are slight changes. But in terms of software, everything is similar.
- Another notable difference is that the Garmin 935 has the Quick-Removal Kit, something we don't find on the Fenix 5. This accessory allows you to quickly change the location clock, moving it from your wrist to the handlebars of your bike in a matter of seconds. If you are a triathlete you will know what I am talking about. This is the kit that is included in the 935 tri-pack, which you can see totally detailed in this article I wroteIt is in the tri-pack or can be purchased as an accessory.
- The Fenix 5 is supplied with a strap (or two if you buy the metal strap version) with the Quickfit system. This strap allows you to quickly change between different models and colours in a matter of seconds. On the 935 we have a normal strap. However both use 22mm straps, so if you wish you can use this type of strap on the 935 as well by buying it separately.
- There are other small differences, for example the dive rating of the 935 is lower than the Fenix 5, 5ATM versus 10ATM. There is also a slight difference in the UltraTrac mode (10 hours more for the Fenix 5), however the duration with use of GPS and optical sensor is the same for both models.
- The 935 is lighter, at the cost of using materials with less of a "premium" feel.
- WiFi is standard on the 935, while on the Fenix 5 you pay separately.
- Quick extraction kit available on the 935.
- The 935 is 50 euros cheaper.
What's new with Garmin FR935
The Forerunner 935 is, as I said, a model that is derived from the Garmin Fenix 5. And like this one, it is an evolution within the Garmin range and is built on the software of the Fenix 3. Like the Fenix 5, there are a lot of little things that change.
Instead of going point by point through everything on the clock, I want to get to the point. Tell you what these new things are and what each one represents.
There is a new quick access menu to functions, accessed by pressing and holding the upper left button, which on other models was simply used to access the off menu. It now has many more options that you can also configure.
And combined with the above are the hot keys. It evolves from what was included in the Fenix 3, being able to configure more keys or the combination of two of them.
Garmin continues to improve the dial configuration options. To the possibility of adding spheres of Connect IQ Garmin's Face It application was joined, with which you could configure the screen by including a photo or your own drawing as a background.
Now you can also manage the dial from the clock itself, changing hands, colours, or changing the additional data displayed on the screen such as steps taken, minutes of activity, floors climbed, etc.
There is also news for the sensors, because both the Fenix 5 and the Forerunner 935 are the first devices from Garmin that support Bluetooth sensors, in addition to the usual ANT+. I will detail this with some more detail in its corresponding section
I've also reserved a section for the new Training Load and Stress, Training Effect and the other advanced metrics which are one of the main new features on the Forerunner 935.
But before we get to those more specific functions, let's take a quick look at all that the 935 has to offer.
Sports and activity measurement on the Forerunner 935
Within the possibilities of sports profiles and their configuration there are no major changes, everything remains virtually intact.
Clicking the top right button will take you to the list of different profiles you have set up. There is a slight change here, as there are two separate sections. At the top you will have the sports profiles you use most, while at the bottom, in a sort of sub-menu, you can have less common profiles as well as Connect IQ applications.
You can move any profile or application around (a sports profile is still an application), so you can leave it completely to your liking and in the order you prefer.
If you select any of these sports you will enter directly to the data screens, and the search of satellites, pulse and the rest of external sensors (if there are any paired) will start.
Do you want to change any parameter of the sport profile? Things like the screens and their data, the alerts or any other parameter. You can do it directly from here, simply by pressing for one second the scroll up button (the one in the middle of the left side), which is the standard way to access the menus.
Of course, this configuration is still accessible from the general settings, as it has been for a lifetime, but the advantage of doing it this way is that you can make any changes even while you are training, since you don't have to exit to the main menu.
There are not many changes to the data screens, which continue to allow a maximum of four fields on each screen.
The only new thing is that there is an option to configure a screen with three data, but without a descriptive text. The digits will be larger, but you must remember what each of them corresponds to.
As you'd expect, the list of data fields you can select from is overwhelming, both in terms of the number of screens and the list of possibilities you can choose from. And then there are other pre-defined screens, such as race dynamics, virtual partner, compass or music control on the paired phone.
Everything else is standard - alerts for different events (which also support settings), auto lap and auto pause, auto climb to switch to a specific display when climbing hills of a certain degree, etc. There's nothing new - all of this was already present in the Fenix 3, and although these are more specific features of a trail and mountain watch like the Fenix range, Garmin has not eliminated these possibilities in the Forerunner 935.
All of this is present in all of the sports modes, except for the obvious. For example, swimming will behave differently, since there is no speed or pace per kilometer, no screen changes per vertical speed, etc. And no, in swimming there are no screens to climb slopes, I'm sorry to disappoint you.
What I mean is that the configuration possibilities are common regardless of whether you are preparing a cycling, running, hiking or strength training activity.
And since it could not be otherwise in a multisport watch and very focused on triathlon, we can also create sports profiles that include more than one sport. Again everything can be customized, from including the transitions, selecting the order of the sports (including repeating the same sport), or the name you want to give it.
So not only can you create a sport mode for triathlon, but you can also have specific modes for bike-running block training days.
When creating these multi-sport profiles, you must first have the individual sports configured. When you create a profile with more than one sport what you are doing is joining several of the previously created sports. Therefore you do not need to configure the cycling profile when creating the triathlon profile, it simply inherits all its settings. And I am not talking only about data screens, but also alert settings, lap settings, etc.
If you want to have a profile with specific alerts for training, but that those alerts do not bother you on the day of competition (for example, not to exceed a certain heart rate) you must have two different applications of that sport, for example, a race for training and a race for competition, which will be the one you include in the triathlon profile.
Once the activity has started, you can move on to the next sport by pressing the back button. If you have chosen to have the transitions active, you will count down the duration of the transition to the pit exit, at which point you will press the back button again and move on to the next sport.
To finish with the sports profiles, remember that the Garmin 935 does not just offer swimming, cycling or bike profiles. There is also hiking, skiing, paddle surfing, golf, etc. Each of these is a specific and adapted mode, not just a stopwatch and heart rate monitoring.
For example, in the golf application you can download course information and see distance to flag, count strokes on each hole, etc. That is very similar to what is offered by a Garmin Approach series.
And the same goes for rowing sports by registering paddles; or in skiing and snowboarding where the clock automatically separates the descents with the times of the ascent. In your activity you will automatically see the descent times with their specific metrics without being altered by the time of the ascent.
After all this fuss, you know all about setting up your watch, so it's time to start training. After selecting the sport you're going to play, your first screen will appear and the search for satellites and sensors will begin.
You must wait until the circle turns green, by which time the clock will have a correct triangulation and enough satellites located.
Using the left scroll buttons you can switch between the different data screens you have set up, and by holding down the top scroll button you will access the main menu. Here you can also activate the navigation of a route or lap start; or select a workout that you have synchronised on your watch.
As it is a watch with a primary focus on multi-sport activities, if you hold down the bottom scroll button you can switch directly to another sport (in this case the behaviour is different to the Fenix 5, as by performing the same operation you would access the time display), indicating the duration of the previous activity.
Pressing and holding the illumination button will take you to the quick access menu.
When you are out of the preset zones, the training computer will display the information about the zone you are in, along with other information such as recovery time, laps, records, etc. This information includes time zone graphs and the variation in altitude during training.
Here you will also find the new training effect (which I will discuss in more detail later).
This is in the watch, of course when you finish training and synchronizing it (by cable, Bluetooth or WiFI) you can access it in Garmin Connect, visualizing the activity from the web or from the mobile application. And there is really a lot of information to be able to analyze, as you can see in the Garmin Connect user guide here.
If you have used a Connect IQ application, it will also record data if it is ready to do so, for example from muscle oxygen meters or from Stryd's running power meter.
Let's continue... As with most of the Garmin range, the 935 also has advanced trainings that you can set up directly in Garmin Connect. These must be created via the web, not from the mobile application.
When you are doing one of these workouts you will have a specific screen where you control each of the intervals. The top of the screen is reserved for the target interval you have selected: pace, heart rate, watts, etc.
Underneath you will have the rest of the important fields for the interval, like this case target power. And if it is an interval that is going to be repeated several times, you will know which repetition you are in and how many you have left.
This is not the only way to perform advanced training. If you have not created it on the web or want to do something simpler, in the clock menu itself you will find the option to perform easier training.
There is also compatibility with Strava segments, not only for cycling but also for race training. This is something that premiered on the 735XT and that I detailed at the time.
And to finish this section (which is already being too extensive), it remains to talk about activity monitoring during the rest of the day. FR935 monitors your daily activity by counting steps against a goal that, by default, is variable. In this way the goal will be adjusted daily to try to demand a little more, although you can also set a manual goal as 12,000 steps per day.
There are more goals to meet, such as minutes of intensity or floors climbed.
Better than looking at this data on the clock is to open the application on the mobile and see all this information in more detail.
The Garmin 935, like the Fenix 5, features an automatic activity log, called Move IQ, which was first introduced to the brand's activity monitors and allows you to identify activities outside of specific workouts without any user interaction, such as running, walking, elliptical training or swimming, as long as you do so for more than 10 minutes and you do not find it interesting to record individually.
In this example you can see two detected walks in the morning (which I have not recorded) and one swimming activity in the afternoon, recorded manually.
24/7 pulse tracking is another new feature of the Garmin 935, thanks to the evolution of the Elevate sensor. Now the recording is constant, since in the past it was variable depending on the movement. Just compare this image obtained with the 735XT.
Now look at this other graph, obtained in this case with the Forerunner 935.
There are many more points, when before there were many periods when the line was totally flat as it took data every few minutes. The new sensor demands less energy, so it is always on.
It is also possible to check the heart rate graph on the clock, but in this case the data displayed is from the last 4 hours.
At the top of the graph you can also see your instantaneous pulse, while the digits marked on the graph are the highs and lows in that time period. And if you press the main button you can see the trend of the graph at rest for the last seven days.
There's also sleep tracking, of course.
A lot of things, right? I hope I could refresh your memory and that you already have a general idea of how Forerunner 935 works (practically identical to the Fenix 5), so now we can get into the new features, treating them in a more specific way.
The performance metrics we first saw on the Fenix 5 were its main innovation, its most important function. The same is true for the Forerunner 935.
This star feature, far from being developed by Garmin, is the work of the Finnish company FirstbeatThey've been studying heart rates for many years and much of what Garmin offers is licensed through them. Just take a look at their website to see how many proprietary algorithms Forerunner 935 has to offer.
All these new data recorded by the clock are available exclusively there, through a new widget where you will have access to the information.
All data revolves around this training state, which Garmin calls Training StatusEach time you do an activity this screen will change, showing the indications of the last workout and putting it in context with what you have done up to that point. It will also change if you do not train, reflecting for example that you are recovering.
This information is extracted from the estimate of VO2maxBoth in career as in cyclingwhich is something that was already present in previous models.
This estimate needs several weeks of data to be reliable, so before you have a reliable data you must have done a few trainings at different intensities.
All this is obtained directly with the optical sensor on the wrist, but for lactate threshold tests (manual or automatic) the sensor on the chest is still necessary. And for the VO2Max in cycling you need to have a power meter on your bike.
I have the impression that the algorithm has changed slightly, showing now slightly more accurate data. Lately my running VO2Max is 3 or 4 points below what I had in other models, but the truth is that the estimated running times (which start from said VO2Max) are now very close to my real times.
Within the same widget you also have access to the state of recoveryThe main news is that now under that sum of hours you will see the recommendation you should take into account about your next training, if you can train normally or it is better to take it easy.
After this you will find the training loadThis training load is just a concept that represents the physiological demands you have been putting on yourself, and we each have a level of endurance.
So this figure is entirely personal. A training load of 200 may be optical for me, but for a professional that would be a week of virtual rest. This graph therefore uses your past history to determine whether your training load is correct or not.
For example, if you've been accumulating a weekly COPD of 200 for three months and suddenly you're doing a week with 800, it will obviously tell you that you should watch out. And the opposite is true if your weekly load is a little higher and you've lowered the piston a little in the last few days.
Garmin puts all this information into a shaker and mixes it, then provides the data for training statuswhich is the screen that heads the main widget.
It is divided into two variables: fitness and load. The arrows will indicate how the training you are doing is affecting your fitness and training load. Logically what we are not interested in seeing is that the fitness is going down and the load is going up, because that would mean that we are getting fed up with training without any benefit to our body.
The news doesn't stop there. After finishing a running or cycling training, a new screen will appear, the training effect or Training EffectIt is not a new metric, as it was already available before, but it only gave an indication of 0 to 5 without providing much more detail. Now it is separated into aerobic and anaerobic effect.
The separation of the two metrics now indicates how the workout you have just completed will affect your fitness. The scale remains the same, but will now catalogue aerobic and anaerobic improvement separately, as logically and depending on what you are training for you will be interested in preparing one facet or the other.
In addition to viewing it after training is over or accessing the activity history of the watch, you can also view it among the activity details in Garmin Connect.
If you click on the question mark you will have more details about what each figure means.
As for the values it gives, in general I think they are quite good. The previous training, for example, was a bike ride where I didn't do intervals, but it was a bit demanding at least in a couple of sections, while the rest was smooth. This results in an anaerobic effect of 1.5. A strictly series training will raise this value quite a bit.
And an aerobic improvement of 2.7 that maintains my physical level, as it hasn't been particularly hard.
A different example.
That was a very smooth 15-minute run, recovering from a knee tendinitis, and it marks it perfectly as a recovery without any possibility of anaerobic improvement.
Then a training at the rhythm of the race.
And indeed, I spent all my training in the lactate threshold zone, so it's an improvement in that heart rate range. But even though it's not an easy workout, there's no anaerobic improvement because I didn't do any speed work or push myself above those pulses.
This is where improvement is important, as it now provides information that the average user can use and understand. This is where you need to know how to mix different activities in your workouts so you don't get stuck.
Everything I have indicated so far can be recorded directly with the pulse sensor on the wrist. A chest sensor is not necessary, except for the lactate threshold test specified above.
To obtain this record it is necessary to have pulse variability data, which, by the way, we can also record this other metric in the FIT file of the activity to be able to analyze it later in the applications that support it.
But it's not the only test we can run on the clock. So is the cycling FTP.
In this case and of course, in addition to the chest sensor you will also need a power meter.
In short, everything is exactly the same as the show that premiered in the Fenix 5 and that I already told you in a little more detail.
Yes, there's also navigation on the Garmin 935. The same as we might find on the Fenix 5, which is more geared towards this type of use. This includes things like a route detour warning or an altitude profile. I won't include it here again because I don't think it's a feature that the average FR935 user will get the same performance from as the Fenix 5 user, so I'll leave you the link to all the details I specified in the test of the latter so at least you know what 935 has to offer.
Garmin Forerunner 935 GPS
I haven't noticed any big changes in the behavior of the GPS with respect to the Fenix 5. I mean, it's not the best of all, but it behaves pretty well. Well enough to train without any major problems in any situation.
Without a doubt, the operation of the GPS is what causes the most blisters in this type of device, and in a certain sense it's something that makes me laugh. It's frequent to read comments from users who take their hands off their GPS because it fails. Because it adds or takes away 150m after a 10km race (and no one has asked how it has taken the corners or if it has run between buildings that make the signal difficult). Or because on an athletics track instead of counting the 400m it counts 397m on each lap.
Let's not forget one thing. We have a watch on our wrist which, in the case of the FR935, is 45mm in diameter. When we run, the watch does not face the sky, but is usually slightly ajar. Under these conditions we have to receive the signal from some satellites that are not around the corner. No, they are at an altitude of more than 20,000km. And I repeat, on your wrist you have a very small antenna, in a device that is not precise (nor does it pretend to be), and whose battery we want to last many hours. Really, go over all this the next time you think your watch is failing because the track of your trail run between trees and mountains moves 2m from the road you see on the map.
Nowadays it is very difficult to find a GPS watch that does not work reasonably well. Something that can tell you "you can't train with this". In fact, saving the Apple Watch Series 2I don't remember any model that I can categorize as not bad, but simply regular. All brands have very satisfactory results even in difficult conditions. Logically some are better than others, but there is no model that can be said to be unusable because of poor GPS reception.
So, what do I look for when I perform GPS tests? Well, finding anomalies that repeat over time: constantly irregular traces, cutting corners over and over, etc. Any model of any brand is going to have erratic behavior at some point, it always does and it always will. But again, if you want to know what a bad performance of a GPS watch is, take a look at the Apple Watch test above.
Well, after a little ranting, let's go with the performance of the model in question. As you would expect from a high-end model at this point, in addition to being compatible with GPS satellites it also supports GLONASS.
As I said before, there are no big differences with what I saw in the Fenix 5. In spite of changing the steel of the bezel for the plastic material, I don't notice excessive improvements in the reception by using a material that in theory is less restrictive with the signal reception.
I'll start the analysis with this training route that I perform very oftenWith good reception possibilities almost the 90% of the route, but with some key turns, for example in this area.
At the top of the route the FR935 cuts a little bit of the curve when entering the uphill street. The Spartan Sport Wrist HR and the FR230 do it too, but to a lesser extent. That street is quite covered by trees, so it can present some problems. We can see that that area does not present big problems for the Garmin, but the Suunto gets lost momentarily. In the rest of the turns and straights of the image the operation is quite correct in all cases.
Another complicated area. The street turns towards the sea are in an area with leafy trees that make it difficult to signal. The three clocks behave somewhat regularly, it is difficult to declare a winner as in this situation everyone could have behaved better.
Here you go. another training on June 24thVery similar situations, perfect on the straights and with some overhanging turns. But with some points where it has moved one meter from the real distance. Remember, one meter is within a totally acceptable possible error.
And a different example, of the June 23rdThis includes, for example, going under a bridge where the signal is lost completely, but there is no problem in getting it back.
Pretty boring tracks... because there's not much to highlight.
On the bike everything is much simpler, because at higher speed it is easier to have a clean and nice track. Even going through tunnels, as in this bike training on june 28th.
Even in open water swimming Here you can see them compared to a Garmin FR230 under the swim cap, so you never lose the signal as you are always out of the water.
The distances measured by both are very similar. 935 has gone slightly longer for that instant on the way back where it has deviated a couple of times, but both the exit and entrance to the beach, as well as the swimming between buoys parallel to the shore, records it perfectly.
The Polar M430 didn't have the GPS activated, it was just using it for heart rate recording, so there is no distance data.
All the trainings are linked to the corresponding comparatives. These are just some examples, I invite you to do the analysis yourself by clicking on these links, both of these activities and the ones you will find in the next section about the optical pulse sensor.
In short, positive results on the Garmin 935's GPS. I'm keen to remind you that you won't find perfect records, but I like what I see.
Optical pulse sensor on FR935
As with the Fenix 5, the FR935 also features the new evolution of the Garmin Elevate sensor, which is more discreet and less bulky.
Not only is the size new, but its operation has also improved. CF monitoring throughout the day is now constant, as it has a lower consumption and it is possible to leave it active without fearing for the duration of the battery. It now records the pulse every one or two seconds, instead of every few minutes as in the past.
This is regarding the inactive heart rate monitoringWhen training, logically, data is taken every second, both in the new and in the previous ones.
In terms of accuracy, I see good data. The pulse is stable when there is not much activity, and if there are changes in the pulse, it is because there is activity. But I suppose you're interested in sensor performance during training. Although the wrist pulse sensors are here to stay, they're not yet ready to replace the chest sensors, at least for all activities. There are times when you can do without them altogether and rely on the wrist pulse reading. Let's see what those times are.
As I always like to start my tests with something simple, in this case a steady pace shootingThis is the simplest activity for a wrist pulse sensor, where they can really shine. You can click on the link to see more detail and make your own analysis, if you want.
First example compared to a HRM-Tri chest sensor and the sensor of the Vivosmart 3.
Where more problems can occur is with training series Along with cycling training, it is the Achilles heel of optical sensors, where manufacturers must pay more attention.
At first glance the result is quite positive for all three sensors (in this case the Polar M430 comes in place of the Vivosmart 3), but let's look at each of the intervals separately.
In the first one you can see that the beginning of both sensors in the wrist is a little slower. There is a small delay until they are in tune with the sensor in the chest, but once they reach the point they remain totally stable until the end of the interval, where again you can see a small delay.
Same situation in the second interval.
And in the third...
And also in the room.
It is not perfect during the whole training, but except for those moments when you can appreciate a little delay - which is not only the case with Garmin, but also with Polar - the result is really good.
Here's another example of series training, this time against the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR sensor with a Garmin HRM-Run sensor as a judge.
The Suunto (purple line) doesn't know about the film until well into the first interval. And when the Spartan is incorporated, it's the Garmin that gets lost temporarily at the end of the interval. Why does that happen? Well, it's frequent that we can see some delay at the beginning and at the end of the interval (as you can see in the second and third ones). I'll simply catalogue it as one of those moments that every sensor has when it gets lost. And yes, in the chest sensors from time to time these things can also happen.
As a triathlon watch, it is also important to check the performance of the sensor during cycling activities, which are much more complicated due to several reasons that make reading difficult:
- Road vibrations that cause the clock to move
- Position of the wrist on the handlebars (which will depend on the type of bike we are using)
- Constant muscle tension when operating gear levers or brakes
- Much more variability in exercise intensity than running
That's why cycling is the toughest test for wrist pulse sensors - not just for Garmin, but for all other manufacturers.
I'll start with a very typical triathlon training, trying to maintain a very constant intensity.
The line that interests us is the blue one, which is the one that corresponds to the Garmin 935. The result is acceptable, much better than in the case of the Vivosmart 3 that has two points where it is lost completely. It is interesting to see this test, because it is about two devices that share the same optical sensor.
Why is the 935 much better in this case? It is larger, covering a larger area on the wrist preventing the entry of sunlight. It also has three LED lighting (the bracelet only has two). And probably the algorithm in both cases will vary slightly. This is why I like to perform these tests on all devices, and not take for granted a result from one sensor and assume that it will be the same across the range.
Let's go with other bike training.
Same models facing each other, and again the result of the Vivosmart 3 is really bad. Even worse than in the previous training. But let's focus on the red line of the Garmin 935, which is what we are interested in.
The start is good, until about the 7th minute is lost. That strange reading is during a period I was stopped in the gutter, I think I remember answering something on the phone. But as soon as I get back into traffic everything returns to normal. Some occasional moments when it doesn't match 100%, but the result is reasonably good.
In short, I think Garmin has taken a step forward with the new version of their sensor, starting with its lower power consumption, which not only enables a much more constant recording of the resting pulse, but also allows them to offer a very good range even when using the wrist pulse sensor (up to 24 hours with GPS and optical sensor).
On the bike there are better records than we had in the past, just like in interval training in races, but in these two cases I still prefer the data provided by a chest sensor, at least if I am going to analyse these activities later. But in constant pace training without variation in intensity? I have full confidence in the optical sensor. I know there may be times when the reading is not correct, but in return it offers much more comfort.
For example, for triathlon I have it clear, at least for longer distances than the Olympic one. HRM-Tri sensor for the first two segments, but in T2 the chest sensor stays in the box and I go out to run only with the sensor on my wrist. I don't worry about the seconds I can lose by taking the sensor off in the transition, especially because in exchange I will be able to run the half-marathon much more comfortably without having to be aware of possible rubbing or burning.
Because effectively, the moment the watch is disconnected from the sensor in the chest it will switch to the optical sensor and vice versa.
Sensors and Garmin Forerunner 935
If the watch is the central axis of your training, you can be sure that the sensors are the ones that feed information to the main brain, and they are more numerous every day.
Another novelty that was released with the Fenix 5 and, consequently, also arrives to the Forerunner 935, is the possibility to connect with external Bluetooth sensors.
This doesn't mean that there is a change in Garmin or a bet on other connectivity, it just opens up more possibilities (something that other brands should take a leaf out of their book and adapt to ANT+ use as well, like Polar or Suunto). Of course ANT+ sensor support is still available, and you can pair all of these:
- External pulse sensor, including advanced metrics (HRM-Run or HRM-Tri) and memory for water activities (HRM-Tri or HRM-Swim)
- Footpod for running
- Muscle oxygenation sensors (Moxy or BSX)
- Speed, cadence or speed/cadence sensor in cycling
- Power Meter
- ANT+ Lights
- Garmin Varia Radar
- Garmin Varia Vision external display
- External temperature sensor Tempe
- Electronic derailleurs (Shimano Di2, SRAM RED eTAP, Campagnolo EPS)
- VIRB action chamber
That huge list is only for ANT+ sensors. You have to add the new possibilities opened up by the new support for sensors using Bluetooth Smart technology.
Bluetooth Smart Sensors
- External pulse sensor (but not using memory options)
- Footpod for running
- Speed, cadence or speed/cadence sensor in cycling
- Power Meter
As for the difference in performance between the two technologies, what you should know is that while an ANT+ sensor will be able to connect to a multitude of devices, Bluetooth sensors can only connect to one at a time. Their relationship is master-slave, so a slave (the sensor) will only be able to connect to a single master (in this case the watch). This means that you cannot use a pulse sensor simultaneously with the watch and a cycling computer or application in your phone.
Of course you can connect several sensors of this type, no problem here. That is, a clock can have multiple slaves, each through a different channel, so you can connect a pulse sensor, a speed/cadence sensor and a power meter.
ANT+ does not have these limitations and allows one sensor to connect to multiple devices, as it maintains an equal-to-equal relationship, so in this case you can connect a pulse sensor to several devices at once.
You don't have to choose between one type of connection or the other, both are concurrently active, so you'll have no problem carrying a Bluetooth pulse sensor next to an ANT+ power meter, for example, the watch will receive information from both.
Connectivity and WiFi
One of the substantial differences with respect to the Fenix 5 is that the two models of the Garmin 935 (both the normal and the one corresponding to the "Tri Bundle") have WiFi connectivity. In the watches of the Fenix range you must pay extra to have wireless connectivity, available only in the models with sapphire crystal.
Thanks to WiFi you can synchronize your activities, settings, training programs or any other configuration directly without data cables or a nearby smartphone. However, the wireless network must be synchronized beforehand, it is not possible to search for it from the clock and enter the key manually.
Of course, Bluetooth is also available, so you'll always be syncing with your mobile phone, as long as they're paired through the application (not the phone settings). The Garmin Connect application is available for all platforms: Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.
Thanks to the Bluetooth connection, you can receive on-screen notifications from your mobile phone, not only calls or text messages, but any other: email, WhatsApp messages, Facebook ads, whatever. Everything goes through the Garmin Connect application, where you can select (in Android, those are) which applications will show on-screen notifications. In the case of iPhone, you will have to show all or only the calls.
What you can't do is play music directly from the clock. You can control the playback of your mobile phone, but you'll need to carry it with you if you want to listen to music.
Opinion Garmin Forerunner 935
Garmin has achieved a great product with the 935. It has lost the XT designation, traditional for triathlon watches, but has not lost any of its usefulness for any of the three disciplines. Garmin has simply discarded it because they want to target this model not only to triathletes, but also to advanced runners.
Building the watch from the Fenix 5 is a great success, and in some aspects I consider that the 935 is a better option, not only because it is a little more economical (and offers WiFi in all its versions), but also because of the weight reduction. It is true that it does not offer the same quality feeling because it does not use steel or because of its lightness, but it feels much more comfortable on the wrist and the lower weight should be beneficial for heart rate records, as it moves less on the wrist.
There may be more than one triathlete who is a little disappointed that Garmin has left behind the larger square screen, especially the 920XT and 910XT. They have never been watches with a "nice" aesthetic -although it is already personal taste-, but it is true that they had their own personality, which to some extent the 935 loses.
The positive side is that the entire top range is consolidated into a single development, so the new features will arrive sooner and it will be easier to see what's new for both the Fenix 5 and Forerunner 935, as they have so much in common.
The question that may remain is whether you should opt for the Fenix 5 or the FR935. If you are a triathlete the decision is clear, the 935 is the choice to make because of its fast extraction kit and its thinner profile (more comfortable underneath the neoprene). If you are a runner then it is a totally personal decision that you should evaluate yourself and choose between the lightness and comfort of the 935, or the higher quality look of the Fenix 5.
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