Garmin Forerunner 235: A Bang For Your Bucks! (In-depth Review)

It’s been almost 5 years since the release of Garmin Forerunner 235 in 2016. But the more the days went by, the more the demand for this particular GPS running watch increased. It’s not that the Garmin Forerunner 235 is the best of its family. But the cramming basic features for running and the affordable price tag are throttling its demand uphill. That also pressed me to buy a Garmin Forerunner 235 and review it in the context of 2021.

When I pop the screen up, e intelligent presentation of tons of data under certain menus opens a great opportunity to learn and improve. That’s why it won’t be too dramatic to interpret Forerunner 235 as your trainer device. You can take a look at your segmented data of your sessions and gain insights. You’ll find your best pace to lung power with this affordable Garmin Forerunner GPS running watch. The watch will compare the data and instruct you with the proper training session. It’s not only monitoring device but also a great coach to boost your stamina up.

It’s a reliable buddy for the serious runners. At the same time, you can wear it the whole day. Though I’m not a fitness freak or a devoted athlete, the watch seems to be a great tool for my sessions. It’s not only packed with activity trackers but it also adorns some really smart features to ease your boatload of daily work. Squeezing every feature out of the Garmin Forerunner 235 may seem overwhelming. But at such an affordable price, buying it will ensure a bang for your buck.

Without any further ado, let me take you from the boring chitchat to the exciting Garmin Forerunner 235 Review.

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A Bird’s-Eye View On The Garmin Forerunner 235 GPS Sports Watch

Garmin Forerunner 235 review
Garmin Forerunner 235 GPS Running Watch


➕ A 24/7 heart rate monitor deliver data every 4 hours

➕ Offers you to assess your cardiovascular condition by measuring maximum volume of oxygen in blood

➕ Can alert you with the inactivity period and also suggest you the best time to start your hard work out

➕ Tracks every steps, distance, pace, time and also the in-depth calculation for more insightful data

➕ Jam-packed running and other functions affordable only under $200


➖ Doesn’t offer WiFi connection like the premium watches normally do

➖ Lots of menus and tons of data that can be overwhelming and confusing for easy navigation

➖ Slow change of ‘current pace’ while running on track

➖ Heart Rate drops sometimes on interval of workouts. Not reliable totally

Hawk’s Eye on Hardware

At The First Glance

Garmin Forerunner running watch
Sleek design with lightweight body

At first glance, the watch attracted me with its mild but powerful appearance. As a sports watch, Garmin Forerunner is giving you more than your expectations. Fitness or activity trackers normally adorn a sporty vibe that’s not so attractive to eyes. But this watch is exquisitely designed to be eye-catching. The sexy round figure of the watch makes an enormous appeal.  The green color can be less aesthetic to some people. But the color beautifully appreciates the my energetic life.

As there are quite a handful of options for color combinations, you can pick your favorite one up. You can find it in black and red, black and frost blue, or black and grey. There are also some subtle variations with the color combinations. The watch face with the bezel is always black and the strap colors differ from blue to black. The color options are available and you can select the one that goes with your personality.

The Design and The Materials

The watch is easy to wear and comfortable to put on for the whole day. It’s become possible for the plastic body and sleek design. Sports watches mainly focus on sturdy builds that require a hard and large shape. Garmin refrains from reiterating the same thing for Forerunner 235. So as an exception, they made it to be more sleek and lightweight.

The Garmin Forerunner 235 has a sleek body but strong alignment for easy maneuver. If you expect any touchscreen feature, you’ll be disappointed. But the five buttons on its side- three on the left, two on the right make it easy for users to hover over the functions. Just tap into features and tap back on another. Really easy and hassle-free if you know which buttons to press.

When you’ll run or work out, the feather-like Garmin Forerunner 235 won’t cause you any discomfort. Actually, you won’t feel the presence of the watch on your wrist. The polymer of the plastic made it possible. The whole watch weighs only 42g for the sake of plastic. When the other chunky sports watch feels like a burden, the Forerunner 235 offers you an easy and smooth running experience. That’s a huge difference between Garmin and other smartwatch brands. An aluminum watch can be sustainable but the felt like weight of the Garmin watch is really comfortable on the wrist. I can easily bring it with me for my training session. It never feels like something on my wrist.

Again the strap is also a very important thing for the avid runners. The silicone strap comfortably nestles on the wrist and make you feel better. The perforated structure ensures the evaporation of the sweat. As the strap needs to be tightened to the wrist for better HR results, the materials also matter. So with the silicone strap, you’re getting no allergic reaction, sweat resistance, and so more positiveness.

The Battery Life

Battery life is one of the most buzzing features consumers notice first. Smartwatches don’t always have the greatest battery life. It’s the area where the brands need to put more effort into a revolutionary solution. 

Garmin Forerunner 235 can last up to 9 days while in watch mode. The normal watch mode offers plenty of functions without any access to the Connect app. If you put the watch on GPS mode, it won’t last more than 11 hours as tested. If you enable GPS and GLONASS together, then the battery life will dip down to 9 hours. The heart rate monitor was “ON” while testing the GPS mode. If you compare it with other running watches, the battery of the Garmin Forerunner 235 GPS running watch is still adorable. 

If you go for a long-hour marathon, it can still accompany you the whole way. So the serious runners can rely on this device while going for a long run. But the travelers will face some fuss for using Garmin Forerunner 235. The watch comes with its special lead for charging. The travelers can’t find any other easy way to charge it. Rather they should always bring this charger with them to ensure easy movement around the corner.

We’ve something exciting for you in this Garmin Forerunner 235 review. Well, it’s the power saver that’ll ensure low consumption of battery while in inactivity for a long time. If you pass more time on a screen other than the home screen, the watch will interpret it as inactive. And it’ll buzz a countdown of 30 seconds that’ll make you return to the home page. Thus it’ll stop the function and preserve the battery. However, every watch brands have the scope to research on battery capacity and improve it.

Soft Part Review of Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin introduced it as a GPS running watch. So let’s hope the Forerunner 235 features the best of the basic running function. While it’s no less compatible in other activity and fitness tracking, the watch is certainly a good buy as it can relay smart notifications for you.

GPS Running Tracking

Garmin Forerunner GPS smartwatch
Basic data for running

If you’re a serious runner who wants to keep every detail of your running, the watch is here to overwhelm you with tons of data. The Garmin Forerunner 235 offers you 4 options to select for run tracking. You can track your indoor running, running outdoors, cycling, and other activities.

While indoor, you can put on it and track your running in a treadmill or stationary cycle. You can set an ‘other’ option if you’re interested in weight lifting or yoga etc. The accelerometer sensor on the watch is used to track reports of your indoor exercises. It will give you data on pace, distance, time, and so more. When you are outside for running, GPS and GLONASS (alternative for GPS made by Russia) will lock on your location. If location sharing isn’t on your comfort zone, you can switch it off.

It gives precise and accurate tracking of distance and location. And you’ll also get data for time, pace, burned calories, etc. And for more in-depth insights, you can also peek at the average pace, current pace, or best pace data. It helps a lot if you want to hit a certain goal. However, sometimes it feels like the data isn’t accurate to some extent. Comparing with Fitbit, I found out a little differences on the measurements.

Moreover, the watch can store 200 hours of your running history and activity. You can take a glance at your data and find where you need improvement. The plenty of data compilation will help you to get a clear insight. And when you need any pushup, customizable audios and vibrating alarms can take that role to guide you to reach your target. Sometimes you can face storage issues.

Heart Rate Monitor

Garmin Forerunner 235 gps running watch
Regular updates of heart rate after 4 hours

With the heart rate monitor, you can notice if you’re building an athletic heart. The pumping capacity increases if you run on a regular basis. Just tighten the GPS running watch around your wrist, you’ll receive cascades of data regarding your heart rhythm. You need to place it as near as the pulsations of arteries to get the most accurate measurements.

Garmin Forerunner 235 uses a newer technology to measure heart rate. It’s termed as ‘Elevator’. It uses the optical sensor that uses light to detect the blood flow. The sensor on the case back projects light rays from 3 green LED lights. It measures the volume of blood measuring the absorption of light. When the blood swells on the capillaries, lights are absorbed to a large extent. That’s how the optical sensor can assess the ebb and flow of the blood. And from the change of the capillary tissue cells, the extent of blood pressure can be measured. All the data reflects in a graph that shows the spikes for Heart Rate.

Best Garmin running watch
Measurement of the maximum volume of oxygen in blood

If you want more precise data on heart rate, you can use the ANT+ chest strap. It can directly observe the blood flow of the heart and give you data while running. Sometimes the Garmin Forerunner 235 optical sensor cannot pace along the sudden up and down of the blood flow. So the chest strap associated with the watch can provide you with more accurate data.

The device also gives Resting Heart Rate data. That means you’re getting 24/7 HR data while the watch is strapped on your wrist. Actually, Garmin Forerunner 235 highlights the data in a way that you can take the scope to improve your heart rate. Even if you notice something unusual in the HR chart in the late night (that’s when cardiac arrest usually happens), you might consult your physician. Maybe you need to concise your training session also.

The Garmin Forerunner 235 won’t disappoint you with its load of exquisite features. The watch also has a VO2 Max measurement function. That means the watch powers the maximum volume of oxygen reading. It’s expressed in milliliters per kilograms of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min). It can appear as a practical feature if you are a serious runner. The metric will define the power of your lungs. There are some markings of zones for oxygen consumption. Hitting certain metrics in certain zones, you can assess the capability of your lungs for a marathon. 

I can’t say the data for heart rate is pretty accurate from pure medical perspective. The arterial pulse can be felt through the sensors though. To measure oxygen saturation, the sensors aren’t suitable. In the COVID-19 pandemic, oxygen saturation measurement is a very important thing. So rely on pulse oximeter rather than the Garmin watch to measure oxygen saturation on your blood.

Activity Trackers

Garmin Forerunner 235 Review

Garmin Forerunner 235 is not only a mere GPS running watch but it can also track your other daily activities properly. That’s why you don’t need to change your watch while switching the exercises. Though it’s especially for running, you can still squeeze the extra features available. 

Garmin Forerunner GPS sports watch
Cadence report

When you’re up for cycling, be sure to pair it with ANT+ speed and cadence sensors. The accelerometer will give you data on the pace, distance, and time while pedaling the bicycle. You can use the heart rate trackers to assess your breathing efficiency. In weightlifting, you can access your oxygen consumption and HR data to evaluate your capability.

I’m happy not super happy with this feature. The sensors can estimate the rotations but can’t accurately figure out the measurements. They need a big budget to research and improve the activity monitoring. But the estimation helps a lot to get a good result.

Sleep Tracking Efficiency

You’re getting another scope to track your sleep. Sound sleep is the key to a healthy life. And Garmin Forerunner 235 automatically tracks your sleep though not at full scale. It can properly track the total time you sleep and when you awake. The sensor can also detect the deep and light stage of your sleep. 

Using actigraphy, the watch can track your movements. It can show the high or low amount of movements on the graph. The sleep tracker is quite helpful to track the sleep time, not the quality of sleep. However, you can learn if you have insomnia and act accordingly. If you’re suffering from apnea or disturbance in sleep, your movements will be more likely frequent and unstable.

Sleep tracker isn’t a reliable function on the watch. To get the most accurate figure, you need to go under actigraphy process. That needs many sensors to be inserted. But Garmin watch can estimate the quality of your sleep. Garmin can improve it by installing artificial intelligence. The estimation will be more precise and to the point.

It’s A Smart Trainer

Garmin Forerunner gps running watch
Helps in race prediction

I loved this version of Garmin Forerunner as it has a comprehensive way to show data. If you don’t want to get insights into your running, the data might appear to be overwhelming. But it’s actually a very informative and constructive way to improve your efficiency. That’s why I call it a trainer or advisor for the daily workouts.

The data on running are beautifully categorized under different tabs and windows. It shows the normal distance, pace, time, heart rate, and so more. But under these categories, it also shows you the best pace, moving time, zones for lung power, and so on. The Garmin Forerunner 235 watch can also predict your racing time. And what more- a recovery advisor can tell you when to start your next hard workout spending a good time at rest. The jam-packed data are so intelligently presented that you’ll love to scroll and improve your fitness.

That’s where you’re a gainer by using the smart trainer. The insightful data will coach you to reach your goal.

Garmin Connect App

This is how you can keep your Garmin watch connected with your phone. The high-end watch brands always try to keep their app standard. But the Garmin Connect App can’t compete with the Fitbit app with its complicated maneuver. Garmin Connect has lots of menus with lots of data on it. But Garmin really tried hard to satisfy its consumer.

One nice and distinct feature can be its automatic synchronization of personal data into new watches (if you’re a previous user of Garmin). You don’t need to input your weight, height, age, and other personal information again. You can sync your smartphone over Bluetooth automatically. The pairing process seems unstable with Android phones. But it’s much more stable with an iPhone while pairing for updates of stats.

Unfortunately, Garmin Forerunner 235 doesn’t offer WiFi. That’s logical if you look at its cheap price tag. The inclusion of a WiFi connection will definitely raise its price.

The store of apps is commonly known as Garmin Connect IQ. You can download a number of apps and tons of watch faces from here. If you want to fully personalize your watch, a plethora of options will be enough for you. You can customize widgets, data fields, and apps on your own choice. However, if lots of menus can be concise into a precise presentation, the app will be a lot more comfortable.

Smart Features

Garmin Forerunner 235 Review
It provides weather report

The smart move of the Garmin Forerunner 235 raises its voice to be used as your daily companion. Whenever someone calls or texts you, notifications will pop up on your screen. Even the emails and social media updates will be available in your watch nestled on your wrist. You can also control the streaming of your smartphone music and Spotify. But all these functions need your phone nearby.

Unlike the other watches that show only the headline of a text, here you can read the full message on your wrist. Just swap and check the weather, just tap and play music. You can also allow your family and friends to track your movements using Garmin LiveTrack. The watch also gives you the opportunity to join like-minded fellows to share your activities.

Price of Garmin Forerunner 235

The most appealing thing about this Garmin Forerunner watch is its decreasing price tag. The first release-price was around $300 that was very logical per the exquisite features. 

But with the introduction of new members in the Forerunner family-like Forerunner 645, the price of the old member drops by almost $100. That’s actually half the price when Garmin forerunner 235 was first released. The more the days pass, the cheaper the watch will be. The price of Garmin Forerunner 235 now starts from $140 only. A quality watch on a budget and a big deal for the average Joes.

If you buy from Amazon, you’ll get started from $150 on the frost blue version. The black and grey will cost $160 and the masala/red Garmin Forerunner 235 will cut $199 out of your wallet.

The Final Thoughts

To accommodate a reliable buddy in your regular running track, Garmin Forerunner 235 can be your best buy in terms of low budget. With the Garmin Forerunner 235 review going on, you’ll learn the ins and outs, pros and cons of the GPS running watch. It’s not the best of the running watch, but the decreasing price makes it demanding and alluring.

To hack every alluring function and use it for the best, try to follow the article here. If you don’t want to dig into every detail of your activities, the watch can still be a good option to buy. And if you run regularly and want a running watch with basic features, Garmin Forerunner 235 is the best affordable option out in the market. Hopefully, the review helps you to gain wisdom about the Garmin Forerunner 235 GPS running watch.

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