Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE | Review, full test of new LTE features and opinion


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When the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE arrived on the market, some were left cold. Perhaps because they were expecting a 955 with greater changes, or because they wanted the LTE feature to allow more functions than it does. 

But beyond the model itself, with the arrival of the Forerunner 945 LTE Garmin marks a before and after in terms of exclusive features. Something it has already done in the past with things like wireless payments, music playback or route navigation with maps. All of these are things that even today the competition is still trying to answer.

To all of these functions is now added the tracking and security functions independently, without relying on any other device. Almost all of the new features of the FR945 LTE revolve around mobile connectivity and what it offers for sports adventures, both in tracking and security.

An important detail you should keep in mind is that, effectively, the only mission for LTE connectivity is that. No podrás receive your text messages or Whatsapp, nor make or receive calls. Nor play streaming music from Spotify. At the moment all those functions are outside of what Garmin wants to do with LTE.

I've been testing the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE since July, seeing not only the performance and possibilities of this constant mobile connection but also the other features that the new model incorporates. The FR945 LTE you see in this review is a test unit on temporary loan from Garmin which, as you know, will be on its way back once I've finished the review.

There is no compensation of any kind for performing the analysis. That is, what I write below is what I think of the watch, without any pressure from the manufacturer. And you know, if you like the work I do in the tests and want to collaborate with the website, you can do so by making your purchases through the links posted. Thank you for your support!

In this article, I will explain in detail what the connectivity of the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE offers, but if you prefer me to explain it to you in a video, just press play or go to YouTube.


Overall - 9
Training possibilities - 10
Platform and applications - 9
Battery life - 8
Finishes and comfort - 8
Price/performance ratio - 7



The Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE is all about tracking and safety. That's its main novelty, and while it's not the only one, Garmin didn't want to overshadow those features. Not only is the 945 LTE important because of what it offers, but also because it is the start of a new range of devices that, from now on, will also feature LTE connectivity.

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The good

  • LTE integrated in a simple and cost-effective way
  • Smaller size without toll in exchange
  • Improved GPS performance over the 945
  • Good autonomy (LTE apart)

The bad


  • Price
  • With the use of LTE in all our activities, autonomy suffers considerably.
  • No aesthetic changes

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE, features and functions

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Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE

Before getting into the subject, I'd rather clarify what specifically are the new features present in the Garmin FR945 LTE. Logically most of them have to do with respect to mobile connectivity, but there are also others that are present:

  • Smaller size, it goes to 44.4mm in diameter (47mm has the Forerunner 945)
  • Same 1.2″ screen with 240×240 pixels
  • Weighing 49 grams, it is practically the same as the FR945.
  • Same autonomy: up to 35 hours without music, 12 hours with music and 7 hours with music and LiveTrack via LTE. Up to 2 weeks as a smartwatch
  • New Garmin Elevate v4 optical pulse sensor, the same one that debuted in the Garmin Venu 2 a few weeks ago
  • LTE connectivity for tracking and messaging functions (requires subscription through Garmin, no need to change carrier)
  • Incident alert with fall detection or manual activation, to send a message to your emergency contacts
  • Assistance Plus function, sending an emergency request to an emergency rescue coordination center (not available in all countries)
  • LiveTrack independently, even without the cell phone on your handset
  • Messages from viewers. You will be able to receive text and audio messages (only if you have a headset) from family and friends.
  • Automatic notifications to family and friends during events, similar to what some races offer with their tracking apps
  • Automatic interval detection to display at the end of the activity
  • Open intervals
  • Support for Connect IQ 4.0
  • Changes in fonts and some displays inside the watch

All in all, most of the new features of the Forerunner 945 LTE revolve around mobile connectivity. Then I'll also show you some changes regarding how some things look in the menu, use of new fonts or somewhat changed screens with respect to previous Garmin models.

What remains the same as the current Garmin Forerunner 945? The following

  • Music playback and synchronization with platforms such as Spotify, Amazon Music, etc.
  • Wireless Payments with Garmin Pay
  • Route navigation with maps
  • ClimbPro 2.0, for both ascents and descents and with pre-alerts
  • Daily training recommendations for running and cycling
  • Complete performance metrics (training effect, load, recovery, etc.)
  • Health functions with blood oxygen saturation estimation, Body Battery, stress monitoring, etc.
  • Sleep recording directly on the watch

Of course, beyond reducing the external size of the watch, there are no other changes or feature reductions. Some of the above are features that were not present in the original Forerunner 945, but have been arriving through software updates and in the case of the 945 LTE are already listed as features from the beginning.

Of course the most important thing here is the LTE connectivity. Not only because it's the new feature that's present in the FR945, also because it's what we're going to start seeing in other Garmin high-end models (think Fenix 7, Garmin Edge 1040, etc). But don't worry, I've prepared a specific section to fully unpack all the features offered (and not offered) by mobile connectivity.

Anyway, I'll give you a very brief overview of the basic functions of the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE and then we'll get into it.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE Basics

As this is a "slight" update of a watch that was already on the market, I don't want to make a detailed step by step of all the functions. First, because for that you already have the review of the Garmin Forerunner 945Secondly, because in this analysis I can focus on the changes in the new model.

If you already know the 945 you don't need me to tell you all over again, and if you don't know it what you can do is to have a look at the analysis of the other model where I do go into everything FR945 has to offer, which is a lot.

So I prefer to go directly to the differences between the 945 LTE and the rest of the Garmin range, as far as the user interface is concerned. First, though, I want to dwell on the main new features that are indeed announced as such and which are around the intervals.

These new interval options are divided into two different functions:

  • Automatic detection of intervals at the end of the activity (differentiating between exercise and rest). We see that in Garmin Connect and in the activity summary.
  • A new training function called "Open Intervals".

The first one is very simple. If you do an interval training, fartlek or similar without being previously set (changing pace when you feel like it, pressing the back button when you change pace), the watch will detect whether that interval has been work or rest.

When categorized, in the Garmin Connect pod activity summary we will be able to see what is what to look at directly, which will usually be the strong intervals, and even poder filter by removing everything else from view.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Open Intervals

However, you must remember to press the lap button during rhythm changes, as this will indicate to the watch that you have made a phase change.

Secondly we have the "Open Intervals". Which at the moment has a pretty bad translation in the menu.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Open Intervals

The only thing it will ask you is if you want to warm up beforehand, in which case you will warm up for as long as you want by pressing the lap button when you finish and move on to the intervals.

As before, you simply press the back button when you make the change of pace to tell the watch that you are in the work interval or at rest.

This mode will display the interval training screen, but without the pace or heart rate targets (because it has not been instructed to do so). 

Garmin FR945 LTE - Open Intervals

On this page you can see the interval pace/speed, time and distance. That way you can control when you want to take a rest. And at the bottom it will show the number of intervals you have completed (excluding rests).

The display is not configurable, so that's the data we're going to have. And that's where my complaint comes in, because race pace is fine (it will be what you want to have on the vast majority of occasions), but it should be smart enough so that, if we have a potentiometer connected, what it would show us in the bike intervals would be power data.

In addition to that page we have another one that, when completing a lap, will show a summary of intervals. Again, only the fragment of the intervals, without showing anything of the rests. That data page appears only when we mark the first of the intervals, and we would have to go to it manually by scrolling through all the others.

Garmin FR945 LTE - Open Intervals

In Garmin Connect everything will appear the same as in the case shown above.

Let's move on to the small changes that have been incorporated. Starting with the interval training screen itself, which now changes the distribution of its elements. In the image you can see how it looked until now (using the Garmin FR745 as an example) and how it looks on the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE.

Garmin FR945 LTE - Interval Display

Now the main metric is distance or time remaining (depending on what you have selected), showing pace at the top and time elapsed at the bottom. Previously the main metric was target pace or heart rate, leaving distance and time aside.

This is not the only change with respect to intervals. Now when you view the workout before you do it, it is displayed much more clearly than it was before. This is directly inherited from the Garmin Venu 2.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Advanced Training Summary

The sensor search screen is now different. Not only because it shows the LTE coverage and indicates that everything is ready for LiveTrack (which we will see later), but also because at the bottom we have the time of day and the exercise time (in case you have paused). The font is also different, now in italics.

Garmin FR945 LTE - Sensor search

The same font is now shown in some other sections, for example when displaying VO2Max. 

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - New source

The feeling I get is that the new typography will be showing up more and more on the different UI screens.

There are also new features in the notifications. Until now when we received one, in addition to displaying it 1TP10We could delete it and it disappeared from the watch and phone. Now there is a second option, and if you press the button marked with the X what it will do is delete it from the watch, but it will still keep the notification on the phone.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Notifications

Within the menu there are also simplifications. For example by adding main menus with submenus for options. For example, before we had a menu for watch faces, widgets or controls. Now those three options are encompassed within a menu called "Presentation".

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Presentation menu

And the same goes for the "Connectivity" menu, which now has all the communication possibilities inside with phone, Wi-Fi and LTE options.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Connectivity menu

Finally there is a rotating keyboard on the watch, which will serve us to send messages through the LTE connection under the assistance function, or to enter some data such as the Wi-Fi key.

Garmin FR945 LTE - Keyboard

As you can see these are small things that have been altered, which sets the trend for what Garmin watches will look like later on. 

As for the watch itself, remember that although the aesthetics are the same as the 945, it is slightly smaller. It measures 44.4mm instead of 47mm. That's just over 2mm difference, but you have to have a very keen eye to appreciate the difference. That reduction in size comes from making the edge more discreet because it uses the same 1.2″ display as the FR945.

On the back we have the new Garmin Elevate v4 sensor that debuted with the Garmin Venu 2.

Garmin FR945 LTE - Sensor

Changes the location of components and adds one more infrared sensor to assist in the PulseOx function for estimating blood oxygen saturation.

In terms of software possibilities it includes everything that the Garmin 945 has been receiving over time. For example the sleep log directly on the watch, without having to wait to synchronize with Garmin Connect.

Garmin FR945 LTE - Dream Widget

Also the suggestion of daily workouts, for running or cycling.

Garmin FR945 LTE - Training Tip

Track and field running profiles, virtual run for use in applications such as Zwift, eBike profile, ultra distance running profile, VO2Max adapted for trail training... There are many things that have been added to the original Forerunner 945 and that are logically present in the 945 LTE. 

We have the functions of training status tracking, load, focus, recovery, etc. 

Garmin FR945 LTE - Training load

All this data, together with VO2Max and other data, is what feeds the training suggestion function that I mentioned earlier.

Of course the high-end Garmin flagship features are also present: navigation with maps, music playback directly from the watch (including synchronization with platforms such as Spotify or Amazon) and wireless payments via Garmin Pay.

Garmin FR945 LTE - Maps

And so much for the quick review of what's changed in the new Forerunner 945 LTE and what's stayed the same. Let's move on to the specific new features, where I do want to discuss things in a little more detail.

945 LTE connectivity and associated features

LTE connectivity is undoubtedly the highlight of this watch, which is why I reserve this section specifically. Before going into all the details I want to clarify a number of points.

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For the functions I'm going to discuss below, the watch does not rely on the cell phone at all. You can go for a run, ride a bike or do any other activity with nothing but the watch (well, put on some clothes).

Also, note that it does not depend on your current cell phone operator, nor do you have to get a specific line for it. The way it works is through a subscription with Garmin, paying 6,99€ if you subscribe to the annual plan or 7,99€ if you prefer to contract a single month (which is what I have done). The watch has no SIM slot and does not support eSIM, so this is the only possibility.

To clarify as soon as possible, LTE connectivity does not mean you can receive calls or text messages from your regular number on the watch. It is not intended for that. LTE connectivity simply allows you to have the features I'll explain later (tracking and security, messaging for viewers and sharing live events).

And by the way, there are two different watches depending on the market for which it is intended. On the one hand we have a model for North America (Canada, USA, Mexico) and New Zealand. On the other the one for the rest of the world. Thus 

With that cleared up, these are the possibilities offered by the LTE connection:

  • LiveTrack over LTE
  • Text or audio messages from viewers (if you wear a headset)
  • Live shared events
  • Automatic and manual assistance messages to your emergency contacts
  • Assistance Plus, Garmin's emergency response center
  • Remote activity synchronization (including daily activity data, workouts, etc.)

So LTE connectivity is focused on tracking and security, not on having conversations with the training group to see where you're having a beer or chatting with your Tinder hookup.

But before having these functions available we have to activate the subscription. Doing so is very simple and is all done directly through the Garmin Connect app, either during the initial setup or at any other time.

With the LTE function configured, I will now briefly detail what the monitoring of each of these modes offers.

The most basic function and the one you will use most often is LiveTrack over LTE. On the watch I have set it to start LiveTrack automatically. In doing so, when we enter a sport profile, during the search for sensors and satellites 1TP10We can see a new coverage search icon.

Garmin FR945 LTE - Sensor search

At the moment everything is exactly the same as when LiveTrack is used through your mobile connection. The contacts you have selected will receive an email with a link in which pod will see your position, where you have ridden and, if you have uploaded a route, what that route is. They will also see sensor data such as pace, heart rate, power, etc.

The difference with respect to using it with the cell phone is the data update frequency. By default the watch updates the information every minute. That is, every minute it transmits all the data corresponding to the previous minute not only of position but also of sensor data.

Within the LiveTrack 1TP10 options we have to activate the power saving option. By doing so we change the update frequency from every minute to every 5 minutes.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - LiveTrack Power Saver

The truth is that this is a function that consumes quite a lot of energy, so in principle for most of your activities it will be enough to transmit data every 5 minutes. Because speaking of autonomy, this is what Garmin declares:

  • Smart watch mode: up to 2 weeks
  • GPS mode with music: up to 12 hours
  • GPS mode with LTE LiveTrack: up to 10 hours
  • GPS mode with music and LTE LiveTrack: up to 7 hours
  • GPS mode without music: up to 35 hours

So all things being equal the difference of using LiveTrack or not using it is 25 hours on each battery charge. As you can see, a substantial difference.

Where the differences begin with respect to LiveTrack using mobile is that now 1TP10We can receive messages from those to whom we have sent email with LiveTrack. Now, in the browser window used to view LiveTrack data a window appears where our friends or partner can send us messages of encouragement or requests.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - LiveTrack Message

A few seconds later the watch will vibrate and emit a tone, notifying us of the message received and we 1TP10We will be able to see it on the screen.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - LiveTrack Message

This applies to text messages. If a headset is connected, the sender of the message will also have an option to record an audio message. You will be able to record a message up to 30 seconds long and it will also be automatically sent to the watch.Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - LiveTrack Audio Message

When you receive the message, it will be played automatically, so depending on what you have been sent, it can give you a good scare.

Regarding this feature, at the moment Safari does not allow to record audio, neither on the computer nor on iOS. Additionally on iOS I have tried with Chrome and only a fragment of that message is recorded, I guess Garmin will polish the source code of the LiveTrack website.

The problem we currently have is that these messages, both text and audio, are not recorded anywhere, and the time to view the message is ephemeral. So if you don't realize at the time that you've received a message, you run the risk of arriving home without churros, and that's not going to do you any good. Guaranteed.

If at any time you see that you are being "trolled" too much, you can always momentarily disable the reception of messages from the activity menu.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Viewer Messages

Continuing with the tracking options, next on the list is live event sharing. It's sort of like LiveTrack but with a little twist.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Live Event Sharing

If you've ever tracked a friend at a big event (Major marathon, Ironman, etc.), you'll have podido constantly tracked them with push notifications on your phone every time they pass a checkpoint.

This is the same, they are automatic notifications that your selected contacts will receive and offers the recipients data such as accumulated time, last lap time, etc.

You can configure from Garmin Connect both the message content (cumulative time, pace, last lap, estimated time to finish) and the trigger for the messages (each lap, distance, time, etc.).


By default, the live event will be active for 24 hours and then it will be deactivated, so that you don't forget that it is active and the person you have set as a receiver gets fed up with you every time you go out to train.

And depending on the options you have selected, the recipients you choose (up to a maximum of 5) will receive an SMS message with what you have chosen each time one of the triggers is fulfilled.

Garmin FR945 LTE - Follow-up messages

All this in terms of monitoring, it is time to talk about the security possibilities, which is perhaps the most interesting aspect of LTE connectivity. Mainly because you only need to use it on one occasion to get a good return on the investment you have made.

First we have the same options for manual and automatic alert messages as we had in the other Garmin models, with minor differences:

  • We do not depend on carrying our phone with us
  • We do not depend on the connection between the phone and the watch.
  • 1TP10We can now send messages instead of a simple help notification

The part of the phone is important, because perhaps there are activities in which you always take it with you (cycling, trail...), but others in which you don't (going to do intervals in the park). And then there is the part of connectivity, in the end we depend on the connection between the two devices to be stable and we all know that from time to time there are connection cuts, if that cut occurs just when you have hit a concrete wall, bad business.

But the third point is another notable change, as we now have the ability to customize our help message. Because maybe we don't need help and we simply want to notify of something, like we are going to be 1 hour late.

When activating the manual assistance message from the quick access menu (top left button) 1TP10, you can choose between some predefined messages or open the keyboard.

Garmin FR945 LTE - Keyboard

However, holding down the top left button for 5 seconds will directly send an assistance message, for example if you are in a compromising situation or do not have the strength to chat.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Assistance Plus

And logically we keep the automatic assistance messages, those that the watch activates in case of detecting a deceleration or important impact (and that if it is a "false positive" 1TP10We can cancel).

But where it really matters is in the function. Assistance Plus. That's the icing on the cake, an icing you don't want to eat but if necessary it will be the best purchase you've ever made in your life.

Unlike the assistance function that I have detailed above, Assistance Plus connects directly to the IERCC of Garmin (International Emergency Response Coordination Center). But keep in mind that this is for real emergencies, for example being in the middle of the Pyrenees and having broken an ankle after a fall.

To be absolutely clear, this is not a feature that you can play with. If you activate Assistance Plus you will be directly contacting a real person, not a machine. And you will be using resources that may be needed in a real emergency. 

In fact all I am going to show you is how to activate the function and what 1TP10We can see on the screen, but not the rest of the process for obvious reasons.

After activating Assistance Plus through the Garmin Connect application (by default it is deactivated), when requesting assistance you have the option of contacting your contacts or the rescue service.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Assistance Plus

Selecting emergency rescue will start a countdown that allows you to cancel the request, in case it was a mistake and poder will prevent you from meeting a helicopter at your front door.

In case it was not a mistake and you really need help, the connection process with the IERCC will start and a chat will be initiated through the watch screen. As with emergency contact assistance messages, we have a number of predefined messages and the option to type using the keyboard.

As the conversation progresses, the predefined messages will change, and you will always have the possibility to write your own to detail exactly the reason for the emergency.

Naturally, from the beginning of the emergency request the IERCC will receive your positioning data, so they will know where you are at all times in case it is necessary to send a rescue team. If necessary, they will contact GREIM, Police, Guardia Civil or whoever is needed to proceed with the rescue.

Assistance Plus is a feature that nobody wants to use. Because if you need it, you're in big trouble. But if it comes to it, it can be something that saves you from much worse. However, keep in mind that Assistance Plus is not available in all markets.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE- Assistance Plus

Finally we have the data synchronization via LTE. That is, all the information of daily activity, completed activities, etc. the podremos synchronize with Garmin even if we do not have the phone with us. 

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - LTE Synchronization

And this is as far as LTE connectivity services go. Remember, tracking and security only. You're not going to receive your phone's messages, nor are you going to poder make calls. That's not the intention.

So it all depends on where you train or how complicated and remote your routes are. Maybe if you go out to train in the park below your house for 30 minutes every 2 days, having these features is excessive. But if you do more "adventurous" activities, I don't think you'll find the extra outlay too much.

I think it's a win-win for both parties. You are getting an advanced security solution for a fairly cheap price (yes, you depend on LTE connection and it is not a satellite communication), while Garmin adds a little extra to the price of the product and also sells a monthly or yearly subscription. No doubt it is good for everyone.

The Forerunner 945 LTE is the first Garmin device to have these features, but I am sure that over the next year we will see it in many other devices from the brand. It wouldn't make sense for Garmin to develop this whole system, with the complications of reaching agreements with operators independently by country, if not to launch it more globally. We will soon see it in more of the brand's watches and cyclocomputers.

GPS and optical HR sensor performance

Taking advantage of the fact that this month of August I have had two models on test, this allows me to use the work with one for the analysis of the other and, in this way, to make my workflow easier. So the comparisons you will see below are the same as those of the Suunto 9 Peak analysis.

Like the optical sensor tests that we will see later, the GPS comparisons are done in the same way: with the watches accompanying me in my usual workouts. Wearing both the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE and other watches and checking where the problems appear.

I don't have any defined route to establish a score for the simple reason that there are other external factors that we should never forget. Things like clouds, tree leaves or simply the position of the satellite can alter the GPS results from one day to the next. It is for this reason that I prefer to do this type of comparison instead of having a predefined route and evaluate it based on this. 

I start with a somewhat different route than the usual one I do. For the test, in addition to the Suunto 9 Peak and the Garmin FR945 LTE itself, I am accompanied by the Suunto FR945 LTE. Garmin Forerunner 745 (which is one of my last references for the good performance of the GPS).

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

From a distance it looks like totally matching tracks, and the truth is that in general during the test there are not too many problems, but let's see with a little more zoom.

At this point, about 500m after starting the training (transition after 3 hours of cycling) the 945 LTE gets a little lost going over the buildings. It is true that it is a somewhat complicated area as I run close to the building itself, but it is something that neither the 745 nor the 9 Peak has been affected.

It recovers quickly and returns to the joint track quickly.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

In fact later on, as the turns appear, all the tracks match almost perfectly.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

At this point of descent and ascent there is a new slight slip on the part of the 945 LTE. But we are talking about a displacement of little more than one or two meters with respect to the original track, nothing important. But I emphasize what I said above, neither the 745 nor the 9 Peak have suffered it.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Let's move on to more difficult things. At this point I "sneak" into an urbanization. Those turns were going to help me with the GPS analysis, but... August... 1 in the middle of the day... south of Spain... I confess that I was looking for water like a little dog :-). Water I didn't find.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

But well, let's put aside my hydration problems that made me finish the workout 10 minutes early.

Let's go with another different training, in this case of intervals repeating them in the same straight line in a constant way. Same members in the comparison as in the previous case. 

To explain a little of the route, I warm up by doing the big lap and then proceed to do the intervals on the main straight, in the shade of a pine forest. The "tails" that you can see at the bottom of the course are the breaks, done on foot, between the different intervals.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Here you can see the part of the "tails" that I indicated before. At the bottom there are different layouts depending on where I was going to make the break, but I want you to notice that section on the left. 

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

That part still corresponds to the warm-up, and I purposely go into the pine forest area to check how each one behaves when conditions are more difficult due to the vegetation.

My intention was to enter and leave the pine forest as straight as possible. Of course, there is no marked path, so one thing is the intention and another what I actually did. 

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Each watch makes a layout as it sees fit, and none of them match. Which one does it best? Well, I have no idea, but it is obvious that it is something of enormous difficulty. 

In the heating part there is another point where there are slight differences, in this case on the part of the Suunto 9 Peak. I have marked it with the arrows, being the most important difference the one on the left point because it makes a strange turn. 

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

The rest of the layout, done on a narrow path, can justify the difference in that the two Garmin watches go on the left arm while the Suunto goes on the right wrist.

But back to the part of the intervals where I run the straight over and over again, there's not much to say.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Only in one of the intervals does the Suunto 9 Peak deviate a little bit from the track marked by the rest of the watches, but it does so very slightly.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Let's go with one last example, this time on my most common layout, so I know exactly where to look for the tickle of each watch...

It is the same route both on the outward and return, so when there are complicated areas we will poder see 6 different tracks.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE | Review, full test of new LTE features and opinion 5

Overall performance has been good for both Suunto 9 Peak and Garmin FR945 LTE over the vast majority of the course. Here for example pod We can see two small deviations by the 945 LTE, but they are very brief glitches and it immediately returns to the right place.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE | Review, full test of new LTE features and opinion 6

On the other hand, it is here the Suunto 9 Peak that suffers a little in a left turn, in an area with a lot of tree cover. Here it takes a little longer to recover the correct line, something that does not happen with any of the other two Garmin, but it is not something excessively serious.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE | Review, full test of new LTE features and opinion 7

This area is usually very difficult, crossing Puerto Banus on its main avenue. There are buildings on both sides and you run under a row of trees, so the signal reception and bounce problems are quite noticeable.

Just look at the graphs, here all three clocks have problems both on the outward and return journeys, even though I am driving at exactly the same point on the road.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

But as soon as I go out into the open air, the problems are over, the three tracks overlap perfectly, making the turn without any major incident.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Cycling? Nothing to show, both Suunto 9 Peak and Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE perform flawlessly.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

Even on climbs at a slower pace, there is nothing to alter the track of either watch.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS ComparisonLike, you want open water swimming too? Ask and it will be granted. In open water I did have some problems with the Suunto 9 Peak. In fact on the first attempt made, despite starting the activity with GPS coverage, it recorded absolutely nothing but time. 

Suunto 9 Peak - Open Water Error

Later tests were somewhat better, but not without problems. For example this workout, where there is an area of considerable distance where the Suunto 9 Peak has no GPS fix record.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

That mistake starts right at the point where I stop for a moment before starting the return, and leave the watch submerged in the water for a few seconds.

The Forerunner 945 LTE has no problem recovering the signal, but the Suunto does. And by the way, regarding the reference track, it is the one on the 745 that goes above the water under the swim cap at all times.

This is a bug that I have been encountering with the Suunto 9 Peak repeatedly. The watch takes a long time to register the signal after removing the hand from the water, leading to it registering very few points during the entire swim. Here's another example on a different day, with the Polar Vantage V2 as a reference under the cap.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak GPS Comparison

For this test I did it on purpose, stopping briefly at the pivot point to keep my arms underwater for a little longer. 

The result is that during the return trip the Suunto 9 Peak did not record a single GPS fix, and it wasn't until I got out to the beach and waited a while for it to add the distance to the activity total that it wrote another fix to the file.

The 945 LTE does almost everything right, until the end of the training where something similar to the Suunto 9 Peak happens. You can see a straight line in the direction of the beach that has nothing to do with the real route (the one marked by the Vantage V2).

As for the GPS performance, everything seems very correct. It has inherited the good performance of the Forerunner 745, which significantly improved the previous Forerunner 945 that on more than one occasion had given me somewhat strange records.

Let's go with the optical pulse sensor performance. Garmin has included the Garmin Elevate v4 in the Forerunner 945 LTE, the same one that was released with the Venu 2. This new sensor includes two infrared sensors, to try to help in the estimation of blood oxygen saturation, which Garmin calls PulseOx.

Beyond this what matters to us is the use during the practice of sport, because if you are reading here about this watch is that that is what interests you. But before showing you comparisons of different sensors, I would like to remind you of some basic aspects of optical sensors.

Keep in mind that a wrist heart rate monitor does not work the same way on all bodies. We're all different, and if we put things in the equation like skin tone, tattoos, body hair... the difference from person to person can be quite big.

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.

It is also important that you understand that while a heart rate sensor on the chest performs effective measurement, the optical sensor estimates our pulsations. In this post I explain all this more broadly.

I'll start with this progressive pacing workout. Easy for any optical (and non-optical) sensor. 

Comparison of optical sensor Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak

Except for around minute 18 where the Garmin HRM-Tri sensor I'm wearing paired with the FR745 has a weird drop that only lasts a second, everything else is pretty boring graphs. 

Full coincidence in the records made by the optical sensors of both the Suunto 9 Peak and the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE.

But as I said, it is a simple training for an optical sensor because there are no major changes in intensity.

So now I move on to a more demanding workout with a warm-up, 100m activation series and finally 800m series until my legs said enough in the seventh interval... For this workout, in addition to the previous sensors, I include the optical sensor. Polar Verity Sense recording independently.

Comparison of optical sensor Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 PeakDespite the demands of the training (more for me than for the sensors, as you can see from the graph) there is no problem with the intervals.

Perhaps a little more hesitation in the rest periods, which I do by walking and that is not what the optical sensors are calibrated for.

Except for the second 800m interval break where the Polar Verity Sense has a slight delay, the rest of the intervals both the Garmin FR945 LTE and the Suunto 9 Peak do them to perfection, very good performance by both.

But speaking of demanding workouts... let's go with a 10k test. One of those that hurt and that demand everything...

Basically the training consists of a 3km warm-up (the initial period), followed by five short 200m intervals to prepare the body for the storm, and then the 10km test.


Comparison of optical sensor Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak

That strange drop that occurs at the end of the first 200m interval is that I stopped my watches to wait for my hare during the test, resuming the training as soon as we were ready to launch. 

The part I have marked with the arrow is the specific part of the 10k test, which is where there are more differences in the sensors.

The beginning of the test the three optical sensors (both watches were accompanied by the Polar Verity Sense) is good, but around minute 40 the differences begin. I'll expand on that part below.

Comparison of optical sensor Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak

Here the intensity is already high, forcing the machine to the maximum. And this is when some problems appear. Not that there is much difference between the three graphs, but none of the three coincide. Maybe it's because of the cadence, maybe because of being forced and making more abrupt movements, but the truth is that after 10 minutes of testing is when the differences begin to appear.

With respect to cycling we have the same situations as always, the optical pulse sensors are too irregular. When we are doing some intensity training the performance is good. 

Comparison of optical sensor Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - Suunto 9 Peak

For example this 3 hour workout with series on the climbs. While there is intensity the Suunto 9 Peak and Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE graphs match perfectly with the HRM-Tri sensor paired with the Garmin Edge 830. 

But when it's time to rest or the intensity becomes too variable (descents, riding in traffic, etc.) the problems return.

Overall good performance of the optical sensor, which I fully trust for most training. Not so for cycling, activities in which I would always wear a pulse sensor on the chest (if heart rate data matters to you). Maybe also in those full intensity workouts, but it's true that I only have a single sample of those, and not too eager to get more samples in similar conditions :-D.

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Review Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE

Yes, I know, it's not the Forerunner 955 many of you were hoping for. And I also know, many others would have liked the LTE functionality to go beyond what it offers on the 945 and at least allow for calls as well. 

Perhaps adding more features at this time is somewhat complicated, mainly because it is with Garmin with whom we have to contract the subscription and not with our usual operator. So this is not a war of unlimited calls and a data limit, but what is offered is a service as such. 

And as a service package that it is, the experience is fully satisfactory. It's something that Garmin has just launched on the market, with a high complexity because it's not something that depends exclusively on them, and at all times the experience of use that I've had is as if everything is a service with a long time behind it.

From the moment of subscribing to making use of all the features (well, luckily I haven't tried Assistance Plus), everything has worked perfectly.

But beyond the watch itself, what I think it promises is the service itself. This isn't just a Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE, it's the start of a series of devices from Garmin that will feature their same services. And it won't be long because as I was saying earlier, this is a win-win for both parties. Garmin charges a little more for the product and also associates a monthly fee to it; while the user gets some benefits especially in the security framework. A win-win in every sense of the word.

What I am still curious about is what happens with respect to federations and race organizers. For example, Ironman specifically prohibits the use of communication devices during the race. The same goes for the Spanish Triathlon Federation, USA Triathlon, ITU and I'm sure all the other federations.

The reason is simple. Anyone 1TP10Could receive a message indicating your current position with respect to your competitors. To know if you are ahead of the second, so you can slow down a little... If you are approaching the third and you are going to catch him in 3 kilometers... In short, the competition is totally distorted.

At the moment there is no official position on the matter, but there is no easy way to detect that someone is using it illegally. So we will have to see what moves they make in the future.

And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. A spectacular review, like all the ones you do, Eduardo, congratulations!

    I think it is a great watch, of ideal size and I think the criticism it receives is unfair. The COROS Vertix 2 is being praised to the skies, when really it only provides GPS accuracy. However, a watch that can save your life, we belittle it. What a nerve...

  2. Do you know if it is possible for them to update the API used to version 4? As the Fenix 6, the one I have, go with 3.2.0 still.

    1. At the moment the only ones that are on API 4.0.0 are the Venu 2's, which are the ones that at the moment make sense for what this version offers in terms of how their UI works and so on. When version 4 offers more functionality I'm sure both this model and the Fenix 6 will be updated.

  3. Perhaps absurd question....el lte can be connected with Vodafone? Or only with garmin is it possible?


  4. Great presentation at the level that we are used to, very interesting device, when it came out I thought it was a gadget more and that contributed little to what I already had Garmin, today swimming in the sea I have lost my way, entering much more than usual and I have seen the true usefulness of the device, you can get out of a good trouble. I think Garmin has got it right and the future goes that way.

  5. Hi Eduardo, excellent work once again, I have a question and I would like to know your opinion.
    I currently have the 735xt and for long distance testing it is going to fall short for me in terms of battery life. I like the size around 42-44mm, so I am thinking about the fenix 6s pro solar or this 945 lte.
    What do you think about it and which one would you go for?

    1. It all depends on the value you place on the LTE functions. If you are interested in them for day to day use it is a good choice, because for the long distance day you can disable those features and recover the 100% from the battery.

      The 945 is more intended for triathlon, especially for weight, but the Fenix 6S is not much different either... Either one is a good choice.

  6. Thanks for the excellent analysis. Very interesting system when applied to devices that have more autonomy than 10 hours with LTE. If it really works in every remote place where you have service and no gaps without connection.

  7. Dear Eduardo, thanks for this review.
    I have one question (maybe stupid ;-))
    Poland where I live, is not in Garmin LTE range yet - and FR945LTE is no offer. However I can buy it from Germany online.
    Can I use this watch with no Garmin LTE plans activation but keeping all features except live tracking and emergency assistance, ect. Can I turn off LTE options?
    I like the new sensor, chip and the battery - this is FR945 upgrade anyway...


    1. Hi Michal

      Yes, you can get the LTE version and use it without enabling LTE without any issue. And when LTE is available in Poland you will be able to activate the plan just as normal.

      You can get the 945 LTE cheap from RunnerInn and they will ship it with no issues to Poland. Buying from that link will help the site quite a bit!

  8. Great article. I currently have a big headache, I'm looking for a new gps watch for around 500€ or less that meets my needs and I'm having a hard time deciding. I had a Suunto Spartan Sport with the HR band (I did many kms running on asphalt, trail and MTB) and at the beginning of last year 4 years later it was asking for a replacement. After holding out a little longer, I switched to the Apple Watch SE for work and it is certainly a luxury syncing with iPhone. However, lately I'm a little worried because now with the arrival of good weather and remembering pre-pandemic times, I seriously intend again to go out of the gym and go back to running in the mountains and asphalt above all, as well as a little MTB, while still going to the gym. I'm not usually very careful with watches in general and more outdoors (I left good marks in trail races in the Suunto) and I'm afraid that the SE, which already has some marks just from rubbing in the gym, will break even having the apple care +, plus I will give the GPS and I like to see the precise metrics of what I do (I worry about the battery, size and accuracy of the SE data, even using WorkOutDoors) as I used to do with the Suunto.
    I'm between this Garmin, the 6 pro or AW S7 45mm by price range (529€ the 945 lte, 429€ the 6 pro and 379€ the 7). The latter I include because I really like the ease of use and screen quality of the Apple Watch (although maybe I'm wrong).
    Because I still have the chest strap and records of Suunto, I also looked at the Suunto 9 (269€), 9 baro (449€ in sapphire) and 9 peak (569€, over budget), but apart from that I see no evolution in interface from the Spartan, they still have almost no smartwatch functions, while with the Garmin I can go running with music without the phone, pay, notifications and more functions... Maybe these are things that before I had the AW I didn't notice but if you can have them then all the better.
    In short, I'm looking for something to wear every day and withstand everything (land, sea and air hahaha) as did the Suunto for a few years, to poder be comfortable and safe. Maybe for what I do is too much budget and actually I have enough with the garmin and with the suunto 9 + the band I already have I save the money but I have no one nearby who can give me advice....
    Thank you!
    PS: I have seen the Fenix 7 at 569€, do you consider that the 6 pro at 429€ is worth stretching?

  9. Gran decepción Forerunner 945 LTE!!! Solo funciona con cartografía oficial de Garmin. Si cargas el topo Hispania, topo Pirineos, etc. en cuanto vas a configuración de mapas, se queda colgado, y se reinicia transcurrido un tiempo!!! Los mismos mapas funciona perfectamente con los Garmin, Forerunner 945, Edge 1030, Oregon 550.
    Me puse en contacto con Garmin y me indicaron que solo funciona con mapas oficiales!!!

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