So tri-fans. It’s here.
You probably have either a Fenix 3, a 735XT or a 920XT and you want to know if it’s worth the upgrade to a shiny new Forerunner 935.
Really you’re going to buy one anyway, you’re just trying to justify it 😉
Actually, maybe not. It’s a bit more complex as you might be thinking of a Fenix 5 rather than a Forerunner 935 (aka Fenix 5tri). That confuses the picture somewhat as they are essentially VERY similar.
Really I can see very little from a tri-perspective that warrants a minor upgrade. Those 3 are all competent devices (735XT, F3, 920XT)
If you currently own a Fenix 2 or Forerunner 910XT then YES there is a lot to upgrade for.
For a new tri-watch purchase go for the 935 over the 920XT and over the 735XT; UNLESS you are concerned about the price, plastic shell or screen shape in which case you get the 920XT
FULL, DETAILED REVIEW: HERE WARNING there are some issues with the 5X that you need to be aware of before buying. These seem to be glossed over elsewhere in other Garmin-biased reviews.
Also be wary that there are ANT+ sensor issues with the 5X and GPS accuracy issues with the 935 eg (here)
Feature Comparison Table – below…keep going!
PRE-ORDERS (USA): HERE at PMC
If you are going to upgrade anyway then maybe the 935 represents a nice little saving over the Fenix 5? but if you could afford the 935 then what’s another £100, or so, more?
You might ask, “What might tempt the5krunner to move from a 920XT to the 935??”
A: VERY LITTLE.
If I didn’t do this the5krunner-thing then I would not upgrade. As it happens I’m probably going to end up with a 935 and a Fenix 5x but only because of this blog (Edit: I did!). Although I’m really not sure if I will use anything other than my 920XT for racing in all its rectangular greatness (Edit: I used a 935 for my Ironman).
Training is a different matter entirely, I use loads of watches for that (discussed here) …just some more than others; I still like the Spartan Sport FWIW 😉 now with oHR but called ‘wHR’…nicey nice. Another reason that I would upgrade to the F5/935 is for the “techiness value” of the newer CIQ 2 apps as our 920XTs only support the older CIQ version (CIQ 1.X). But that still has ALL the apps working fine right now.
Here are my pro’s and cons.
- Better cost & Quick Release kit of 935 vs Fenix 5.
- Better battery & Prettier 935/F5 vs 920XT.
I appreciate there are many more subtle differences but, to me and my training, they are trivial eg weight. You’re different of course – for example, I don’t use STRAVA that much and you could be segment-mad and want those segments on a fancy higher-res screen (Buy a Wahoo, Lezyne or Garmin Edge!). Go for it. You know what to do.
To me what is missing is something like WHOOP functionality. ie really integrated and actionable stuff that tells you to train less or sleep more. Stuff that makes you behave differently, behave better. A game-changer. Having ‘HotKey’ functionality, on the other hand, I can live without. But, to be fair, Firstbeat and Garmin are moving towards the type of actionable feedback provided by WHOOP.
Similarly we STILL have all these running cycling/dynamics but “so what?”. Other than “run faster” how exactly would you lower your ground contact time? So we still need integration with technique coaching (eg a la SHFT). That will come. Or we need a better metric ie instead go and buy STRYD for it’s running power and super accurate running pace sensor. WAY more useful for training more accurately and maybe even getting faster.
I was hoping the Fenix 5/935 might have had something more revolutionary, hardware-wise. Like XPLOVA’s X5 built-in SIM card. Maybe that will come soon with the Garmin Edge 1030/1010?
What might make a more personal difference in a few months’ time is newer CIQ v2.2 ‘apps’. I was sceptical at first. But now there are some quite interesting and useful apps emerging. I always mention XERT at this point but there are many more now. Indeed the inbuilt Training Peaks” workout downloading app” could be useful too if your coach uses TP, for example. I don’t use TP.
The integration with turbo trainers is great but integration to some other peripherals is of ‘peripheral use’ at best (pun intended, as always) but some people love that sort of thing. Then again WIFI could be considered peripheral too but, for some people, it might save 5 minutes a day of manually syncing data and that adds up to a lot of quality time over the year.
So what does NOT add up for me; may well add up for you and your needs.
Go forth and spend!
The fenix5/935 is prettier than earlier watches 😉 Maybe the colour will be a clincher 🙂 But, the Suunto is prettier still. Just saying…if colour is your thing.
Recommendation: Don’t upgrade! Instead, for your 920XT/F3 buy a new front wheel or STRYD or a power meter for your bike. You’ll get faster with those! Maybe 😉 Although admittedly you might look slightly less cool.
Here’s a table showing very similar products. Enjoy a very hard game of ‘Spot The Difference‘ 😉 If you found this info useful and wish to support this blog then please make your next Amazon purchase from the links below or buy one of the F5s from the super-nice Josh at PowerMeterCity (links with current prices at the end)
|Fenix 5||Forerunner 935||Forerunner 920XT|
|Some features require accessories|
|Lens Material||glass or sapphire crystal||glass||glass|
|Physical size||47.0 x 47.0 x 15.5 mm||47.0 x 47.0 x 13.9 mm||48.0 x 55.0 x 12.7 mm|
|Weight||85 g (silicone band)||49 g||61 g|
|156 g (metal band)|
|Water rating||10 ATM (100m)||5 ATM (50m)||5 ATM (50m)|
|Display size||1.2” (30.4 mm) diameter||1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter||1.1″ x 0.8″ (29.0 x 21.0 mm)|
|Display resolution||240 x 240 pixels||240 x 240 pixels||205 x 148 pixels|
|Battery life||Smart mode: Up to 2 weesk||Smart Mode: Up to 2 weeks||Weeks as a watch|
|GPS/HR mode: Up to 24 hours||GPS/HR mode: Up to 24 hours||GPS/HRM mode: Up to 16 hours|
|UltraTrac mode: Up to 50 (60?) hours – not tested!||UltraTrac mode: Up to 50 (60?) hours – not tested!||UltraTrac mode: Up to 40 hours|
|Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor||Yes||Yes||No|
|Daily Smart Features|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth® Smart, ANT+™, Wi-Fi with sapphire editions||Bluetooth® Smart, ANT+™, Wi-Fi®||Bluetooth® Smart, ANT+™, Wi-Fi®|
|Connect IQ ‘Apps’||Yes, V2||Yes, V2||Yes, V1|
|Face It™ watch face creator||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Find my Phone feature||Yes||Yes||No|
|Activity Tracking Features|
|Move bar (displays on device after a period of inactivity; walk for a couple of minutes to reset it)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Auto goal (learns your activity level and assigns a daily step goal)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Sleep monitoring (monitors total sleep and periods of movement or restful sleep)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Training, Planning and Analysis Features|
|GPS speed and distance||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Customizable data pages||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Downloadable training plans||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Configurable lap alerts||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Training Status (lets you see if you’re training effectively by tracking training data, such as VO2 max and anaerobic threshold, and comparing it to recent data)||Yes||Yes|
|Training Load (combines heart rate and VO2 max to score your intensity over 28 days’ time to help ensure you’re in the optimal range to meet your goal)||Yes||Yes||No|
|Training Effect (aerobic)||Yes||Yes||Yes (Total)|
|Training Effect (anaerobic)||Yes||Yes||No|
|Activity history on watch||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Personal records (running, cycling, swimming)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Strava Segments (Live)||Yes||Yes||No|
|Auto multisport activities||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Manual multisport activities||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Customizable activity profiles||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Touch and/or button lock||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Heart Rate Features|
|% HR max||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Auto max HR||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|HRV stress test (measures your heart rate variability while standing still, for 3 minutes, to provide you with an estimated stress level; the scale of this is 1 to 100; low scores indicate lower stress levels)||Yes||Yes||No|
|Records heart rate while swimming||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|HR Broadcast (broadcasts HR data over ANT+™ to paired devices)||Yes||Yes||No|
|Preloaded run profiles||Running, Indoor Running, Trail Running||Running, Indoor Running, Trail Running|
|GPS-based distance, time and pace||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Vertical oscillation and ratio (the degree of ‘bounce’ in your running motion and the benefit ration to stride length)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ground contact time and balance (shows how much time, in the running motion, your foot is on the ground rather than in flight and lets you check your running symmetry)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Stride length (real time)||Yes||Yes||CIQ|
|Cadence (provides real-time number of steps per minute)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Performance condition (after running for 6–20 minutes, compares your real-time condition to your average fitness levels)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Lactate threshold (through analysis of your pace and heart rate, estimates the point where your muscles start to rapidly fatigue)||Yes||Yes||No|
|Personal records (running)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Foot pod capable||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Outdoor Recreation Features|
|Bread crumb trail in real time||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Back to start||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Distance to destination||yes||yes||yes|
|Barometric trend indicator||yes||yes||No|
|Trail run auto climb||yes||yes||No|
|GPS coordinates||yes||yes||yes (partial)|
|Courses (compete against previous activities)||yes||yes||yes|
|Bike lap and lap maximum power (with power sensor)||yes||yes||yes|
|Race an activity||yes||yes||yes|
|Time/distance alerts (triggers alarm when you reach goal)||yes||yes||yes|
|FTP (Functional Threshold Power)||yes||yes||yes|
|Power Meter Compatible||yes||yes||yes|
|Pool swim metrics (lengths, distance, pace, stroke count/rate, calories)||yes||yes||yes|
|Pool lap recognition||yes||yes||yes|
|Stroke efficiency (SWOLF)||yes||yes||yes|
|Advanced swim (drill, rest timers)||yes||yes||yes|
|Open-water swim distance||yes||yes||yes|
There is 10% off most stuff at Power Meter City with the coupon / discount / promo code: 5KNOV16. HOWEVER It will not work for the Forerunner 935/Fenix 5. Sorry. That will be at list-price everywhere for some time, plus Garmin sternly frown upon discounting in any case while products are under MAP.
If you buy the Fenix at powermetercity or any of the Amazon links below you help support this blog and future detailed reviews!! Thank you!
I will update this post with links to Amazon and with links in the UK as they surface.
UK Buyers note: Forerunner 935s are NOT yet available for UK pre-orders through Amazon. Excuse the image for now, I will change that and the links once it gets listed 🙁