Garmin Forerunner 935 – Preview – Master Stroke or Minor Tweak

forerunner-935Garmin’s Forerunner 935 has just been announced and the details of what we mostly knew have largely been confirmed.

Is it what the 920XT should always have morphed into? or something less impressive?

ESSENTIAL READING: 935 Features and 935 Comparisons to F5/920XT.


My biggest complaint with new Garmin products is that they tend not to work in some way or another for about 6 months. Somehow Garmin get away with that. But that approach irks me and many others.

HOWEVER. The Forerunner 935 is essentially a cheapened Fenix 5. That sounds bad. BUT the master stroke is that the firmware has largely been up and running for a couple of months with the new Fenixes. The Forerunner 935 WILL largely work when you and I get our hands on one.

2017 could mark a more tested and more robust year for working, new products for Garmin.


The minor tweak comment from the title refers again to the Fenix-like nature of this product. Which brings up these points:

  1. The Forerunner 935 tri watch is basically a Fenix 5t (where t=TRI or t=tweak). The tweak is an inferior casing albeit holding a generally good screen. For a US$500 top-end tri-watch I let out a long breath and can only say “eesh”.
  2. The implication is that the rectangular-faced 310xt/910xt/920xt series is dead. Let’s get over it. BANG goes any and all sub-brand loyalty. A lot of people like that form factor, me included. However a LOT prefer the more wearable round face. I will have to suck it up I guess. I just feel though that for a ‘pro’ tri watch, and many of us like to pretend we are pro’s, we want the more usable screen real estate of a rectangular screen .



The newer training load and training effect stuff is a great improvement. Firstbeat have done a great job. But honestly I’ve been using those types of metrics on my PC for probably not far off a decade – c’mon Garmin, keep up.

The battery life looks super-solid. No complaints there. With an Ironman looming closer this year for me I know that I’ll be wearing a Garmin of some sort on race day. I want MORE battery life than ‘might just be enough for the race with all the bits turned off‘, Garmin seem to have that.

There’s also a new running pod from Garmin. That doesn’t look too inspiring either.

At the time of its release, the 920XT seemed near-perfect in all it’s blue and black ugliness. It seemed more perfect after a year or so of firmware updates and feature additions. The Forerunner 935 gets a grudging thumbs up. How could it not? It IS prettier than the 920XT and it has more features and they will all mostly work.

ESSENTIAL READING: 935 Features and 935 Comparisons to F5/920XT.

But Garmin have now left the door open

Here is the chance for Polar to jump in with all their rectangular glory.

Right. I have some black paint. I’m going to paint my 920XT black and go and sit in a corner and cry “for what might have been”

But in the meantime I’ll look to Mr Amazon to boost my Garmin collection and also to do my little bit to boost the Garmin share price.

I have no link whatsoever to Garmin. Other than I buy their products myself. I don’t even get pre-release or loan ones anymore as I try to give my genuine opinions on their products.

Garmin Forerunner 935
Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices are about Eur450/$420/£430 and will stay around that level until Summer 2019. .

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20 thoughts on “Garmin Forerunner 935 – Preview – Master Stroke or Minor Tweak

    1. That would be of interest to me as well as while the 935 looks great and has the shiny new gadget appeal, it’s not exactly cheap and has a load of stuff I’d never use.

      My 620 is getting a bit old now but I’ve just spend €3.38 via ebay to get a replacement strap before the existing one falls to pieces on me so I’m sure it will do for while longer 🙂

      1. As i said 5k, I think the 635 has already been there for over a year in a different guise (735).

        if they do a Fenix 5″r ” that would seem logical. Unless they do a real 635… but if they dont,, which i think, what exactly is the 735 and why would one buy that watch anymore….

      2. Thanks, I’ll hang tough & see what shows up. Tbh a Fenix (lite?) device looks a bit too chunky for my liking, would prefer something of a similar style to the 935/735/620 and their ilk.

  1. I think I’m a class of athlete that Garmin doesn’t believe exists. I don’t compete in races (pro or amateur), but I push myself when I run (which is 5+ days per week) and value accuracy in my data, but also want to listen to music when I’m out. Garmin doesn’t seem to think that people listen to music and exercise at the same time which is bizarre to me, and apparently you have to be a triathlete to be worthy of a proper altimeter (I’m not a swimmer). As a 920XT owner I don’t think this new model offers me anything that I consider worth a £500 upgrade and leaves me wondering if I’m barking up the wrong tree waiting for Garmin to sell me the device that I really want.

    1. well………a lot of truth there.
      i’m hoping that there will be a 245 and a 635 this year. looks to be more like autumn for those. in terms of the functionality then I would hope that SOME of what you want will be in there eg altimeter in the 635 (prob not) but music s/be in the 245.
      you need a polar m600. have you thought about using a post-run tool to correct altimetry? that will be SUPER ACCURATE more than barometric in many cases. I can tell you more if you want to know. but won’t help you mid-run.

      1. Thanks, I’ll take a look at Polar. I’m kind of looking to avoid post-processing my data which is why I value the barometric altimeter but maybe that’s a compromise that I’ll have to make, either give up the barometric or accept that some post-processing may be necessary. I suppose with my regular routes I know the vertical distances so it’s only really on new routes that it’s a big deal. Mid-run it isn’t important to me, only at the end of a run when I’m trying to assess whether I ran well or not.

      2. ok. well then. I think garmin connect adjusts elevation – there’s a box next to the activity. basically there is a database (called SRTM) that links every GPS point to a correct elevation. So elevation correction uses that ie it is the accuracy of your GPS positioning that then is the key thing to get right (not garmin lol). you really need to look at NGP or flat or graded pace in an app or piece of software. That will also take into account weather, surface, temp, grade etc etc. I’m actually working on that at the moment in another life. But there is a flavour of that in (average for whole run I think). but in the desktop version of sporttracks you can get an elevation correction plugin that corrects the elevation profile 9including giving you total, corrected ascent/descent). how can you assess if you ran well if you don’t take into account fatigue/load 🙂

    1. good question. they ARE working on something. very little info out there but something has been seen at trade shows. I suspect they are getting the quality right before releasing.

  2. The biggest problem with Garmin and well, pretty much every other sportwatch developer is they are focused more of “options” and less on the audience.

    I live in an urban environment (well the suburb, but only like 10mins from the city). I do most of my workout within the confines of my town, which has lots and lots of trails and parks and places to do whatever exercise I want to do. I own a 5X and love the map function plus the extra information on runs and cycling and now…actual TE for both anaerobic and aerobic! What I don’t need (or will use more than a few times) are the rest of the sports locked in the watch. I also want expanded smartwatch functionality and MUSIC on the watch!

    Instead of doing this, they should be focusing on the lifestyle of the audience and build their battalion of watches around this. It could be said that is what each line is currently, but is it? Really?

    If not the audience, why not just go the modular software/hardware approach. Let me pick and choose what I want in the watch (body of watch, what software etc…) with base preconfigs available if you don’t want to build it. Everything is already developed to work as it, just let me put what I want in it and not what I don’t want in it.

    I know suunto was doing that with the body of the Ambit line for a bit (they may still be) why not let me build my own Forerunner?

    1. build your own watch is a neat idea but no one else has managed it yet (I think some google company tried, I forget the name). integrating components is not as simple as bolting them together unfortunately. eg electrical shielding and eg some components have more than one bit of hardware functionality on the chip in any case.

      Garmin build in all the bits and then turn of bits to give a similar effect to what you suggest. maybe the economies of scale work better that way. Garmin et al would say that they do segment markets based on lifestyles but then, as you say, where’s the music!! LOTS of people run with music. TBH I think it will come in a few months with a 245. we’ll see.

    1. good question. I asked someone at FB a few weeks ago a very similar questions. basically to summarise in table form the basics off all their calcs to see what goes into them. still waiting of r the answer. but I guess you mean compare the outputs?

      1. in years gone by I have read their white papers (not sure if they are still there or updated with newer stuff). they were/are quite detailed and FB are generally good at responding if I have the time to chase. Yes I think it would be interesting. first off you have to assume one or the other is ‘right’. simple power zones/durations are really not right as they assume everyone has a similar CP curve – which is not the case (and why I like golden cheetah). power adherents know the flaws of hr zones. my power and hr zones are sort of similar but they are certainly not the same at given points in time during exercise. so if the zones are different (or however FB do it) then the results are probably also different. Also I get different results on an edge 820 compared to a 920xt (in terms of recovery time, for example), so i’m not sure these things are that prescriptive BUT good as a guide. I suspect that most half-serious athletes just need a reasonably good guide in the physiological stuff – which FB give

      2. I don’t think they will fill in more detail from what I’ve seen but I may be wrong. (I hope I am cause I’d love to understand it better)

        I’m not assuming power or heart rate based is right, just interested in how off they are from each other. One is more cardiovascular linked and the other is muscular based. Overall they trend together but where they don’t trend together is the more interesting parts to look at. You have much less control over heart rate then you do over power (at least most people), for example when overtrained or sick your resting hr is high.

        Power on the bike I still think is more useful but even better is combine the two types of inputs to have an accurate calculation. Wonder when someone will train a neural net using all the data on a service (Strava, TP, ….) but thats a different issue.

        Don’t think any of those algorithms care what zones you define.

        All FB algorithms need to be trained so if the 820 and 920xt don’t record the same activities then you’ll get different results. This is the problem with tri watches that garmin hasn’t really addressed. If you record all your bike activities on an Edge unit and everything else on the watch your FB algorithms will not know about all of your exercise and so will be wrong

      3. yep fair comment by you on the trained algorithms.
        yep hr+power+feel is the way to go. I haven’t read friel for a while i seem to remember he said power was good for sub60minute training and hr for over that. if i remember that correctly it’s probable not too bad a rule of thumb.
        some might argue that HR zones should be set dynamically based on HR Reserve with HRrest accounted for every day but i don’t reckon that would change zones that much even in the ‘sick/ill’ scenarios you describe – but yes i agree it would be harder training then. (training when sick?!? resting is good 😉 adaptation is the goal NOT training 😉 )
        i was thinking of the example that 300w is not the same each day. if your ftp was 315w and you did 45 mins at 300w each and every day then the impact of each session would be different as the days pass. such sessions might well send quite a few people to breaking point fairly quickly

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