Where are the Garmin Replacements? 645, 245, 745, 1030 & What Might Be In Them

L-to-R Suunto Spartan, 935, 5s, Epson 810

We’ve obviously had the 920XT replaced by the 935 and the Fenix 3 replaced by the Fenix 5. What about the other Garmin sports watches?

The summer gadget drought is upon us. Next upon us will probably be the Edge 1030 and Vector 3 probably announced a few weeks ahead of the INTERBIKE show which starts on 20th September. So let’s say Tuesday 12th September for an announcement (that really is a guess).

However, I want to dwell a little more on these:

  1. Will the 630 (r. October 2015) be upgraded with only optical HR to become a 635 (A: no!)
  2. Will the 630 (r. October 2015) be upgraded more significantly to a 635 or 645. If so, how so? (A: yes!)
  3. Will the 235 (r. October 2015) be upgraded to a 245? If so, how so?
  4. Will the 735XT (r. May 2016) be upgraded to a 745XT? If so, how so? and, maybe, why?

Again my favourite chart to the right showing which devices WILL be upgraded to CIQ2.x through new watch versions.

One option for Garmin is to degrade and rename the 735XT. By that I mean, through firmware, they take away the multisport options and voila! you have a CIQ2.x-enabled 245 or 645 – or whatever you want to call it. From a firmware/hardware point of view that is probably along the lines of what will happen. Really, though, I’m not so interested in the mechanics behind it. I want to see what’s new for you guys (and me) ie new features.

Garmin 735XTJust because something, effectively, supports the new ‘app store version’ isn’t a headline selling point in my opinion. So what is?

Headline selling points need to be ‘big topics’. Adding optical HR IS a big topic, like the Polar M430, but that is market-following rather than market-leading. Remember the original release of the MIO Link/Garmin 230? those were market-leading products in that respect.

I can only think of 3 ‘significant’ areas of innovation that will provide a relatively broad appeal to specific SPORTS market segments (there may well be more than 3). These are

  1. Onboard Music – this is following the likes of TomTom and Polar/AW2. Suunto even questioned users about the inclusion of music functionality recently (credit: @MarkusGietzen). It’s no secret.
  2. NATIVE Running With Power – this is following what Polar and Suunto have already done. This would be either good news for STRYD or bad. Bad news if Garmin also produce a pod. I had heard about a new Garmin POD collaboration with an Indian startup called BOLTT which I thought was linked to a Garmin running power pod but I do NOT now think that’s the case and it’s really a re-jig of the old Garmin pods. Such a product with native power support is likely, initially, only going to appeal to triathlete and a small section of relatively high-end, gadget-focussed runners (ie me 😉 ). To be clear: many Garmins currently support STRYD but via STRYD’s free CIQ apps.
  3. In-workout intelligent coaching – I’m envisaging something here that would take Polar Flow’s excellent online running plans to a whole new level of interactivity during your exercise…and on a Garmin sports watch 😉 Your watch would know your physiological goal for that workout and guide you towards it for example by increasing target pace or increasing recovery time between intervals or lower HR on longer runs. This would be technically hard to properly and precisely achieve BUT Garmin work with Firstbeat who already do much of what is required. The downside here though is trust. I just don’t know what kind of runner would really trust their technology more than their paper plan that they downloaded for free from this site (see menus above – or elsewhere!!). I’m making that comment seriously, even though it sounds a bit sarcastic. 12 weeks of your life training for an event is a LOT of personal commitment, you REALLY have to trust the plan to follow it.

Other areas of innovation: So I’m specifically excluding maps and navigation for runners (F5/AW2). Although I get the feeling that maps/nav is a growing ‘need’ especially for new adventurers; I don’t think the need is really that big YET. I’m also excluding all the existing and clever Firstbeat physiological stuff that’s in the Fenix 5/935. It’s REALLY clever technically BUT it’s not really consumer-focussed properly by Garmin to make it important in the watch buying process – anaerobic TL/TE…so what? Do your mates know what it means? I’m also excluding technical connectivity as a differentiator…I think we all expect that by now and if a watch is connected to a specific website via an app then that’s worth a ‘shrug’ rather than getting my credit card out (again) just for that.

The difficulty comes in the complexities of the marketing messages that Garmin must then deliver. Most of you reading this are probably, like me to some degree, in that we look at the tech quite a bit. But you have to admit that it really is difficult to clearly differentiate and explain all of Garmin’s models to your average buyer (this is where one of you comments below and sums it up in 6 words).

Summary of What Might Be (aka: Speculation + a tad of Common Sense)

  1. September: Edge 1030 (special battery + big screen buttons) + Vector 3 (broader cleat & cranks choice with better calibration…no pod)
  2. October: Forerunner 245 with Music (+oHR)
  3. October: Forerunner 645 with Music and Native Runner Power (+oHR)
  4. Forerunner 745 (tri-lite): 2018

Must be time to start speculating about the Fenix 6 by now? (Joking)

Post Script:

Native running power would likely be rolled out at a similar time to the 935/Fenix – assuming the same code base is behind them all.

However, I don’t see music making it to the 935. If the hardware supports it, I suppose the Fenix 5 might benefit from that feature as it is the ‘flagship model’. (I know it’s the same hardware/software in both F5/935).

The interactive workout coaching could possibly have a wide appeal. Because of my plan links (menus above and using Google Analytics) I have a reasonable idea of what people are looking for. But initially, it would need to be a high-end feature to sell/justify a premium device. It would also initially be solely RUNNING focussed and probably would not initially find it’s way to the 935/FENIX as a result. In one of my other jobs, I’ve looked at this area quite a lot. It IS within the realms of a resourced and intelligent company to implement it for running BUT FOR TRIATHLON it is a LOT, LOT more complicated. So triathlon coaches out there need not give up their day jobs to the robots just yet. Maybe this sort of thing would be too adventurous for Garmin anyway….would be nice tho! Even then, I’d still use my spreadsheets 😉




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10 thoughts on “Where are the Garmin Replacements? 645, 245, 745, 1030 & What Might Be In Them

  1. “In-workout intelligent coaching – I’m envisaging something here that would take Polar Flow’s excellent online running plans to a whole new level of interactivity during your exercise…and on a Garmin ?”

    I couldn’t agree with this more, but this type of programming might be where ALL of these sport watches should/are, go/going. Personally, there are plenty of systems either behind a paywall (for example Beachbody) or just available in a book or through the internet, i’d want at least one of these to develop an app for Garmin that allows the user to follow a program’s calendar or have so metric information and/or times and phases of the workout(s) built in; including type of movements and reps (actual expected vs. what you are doing). Sure I can build my own workouts now, but having something that has these programs information already imputed with goals included and how well you are doing over time would be great.

    It’s a problem i’ve always had with Garmin’s ecosystem; there is just the raw data without context beyond the user parsing it out for themselves. I mean, I barely use GC for anything nowadays, either I parse the data with Golden Cheetah or Runalyze. In the case of the latter, I get prognosis metrics almost perfectly aligned with my health (in particular training loads). If they would put more thought into EXPLAINING the data they are recording to the user (why you are here on this, how you got here, when should you do more, why you shouldn’t push harder, what the end result could be…) You’d have a happier user base that doesn’t run to other systems (and competing companies).

    1. doing a *proper* & fully dynamically adjusting training plan (down to the moment of training and mid-training) is EXTREMELY difficult. I’ve spent quite a long time looking at it. It is possible though.

      I kind of disagree with your last paragraph tho. I think the market is for people to be told EXACTLY what to do and EXACTLY WHEN to do it.

  2. Forerunner 245 is probably a downgraded 735 as you suggest, probably with the new HR monitor and 24/7 monitoring. Probably no 745, then. 245 may get Courses or some new HR-based metric like lactate that doesn’t need a running dynamics pod. An upgrade to the FR 35 watch may also appear to recapture the lower-mid range if the 245 moves up enough. Hopefully 245 has better battery life than 235 since the 735’s battery life is very good.

    Forerunner 645 may have Galileo sat support for Europe. It will have the 24/7 stress tracking that Vivosmart has and Fenix is supposed to get and that will likely be tied to workouts for better recovery tracking and training effect or load. And, of course a touch screen and Fenix innards giving it longer battery life. Multiple workouts available, but not multi-workout (ie, Tri). Step by step training is interesting, but they’d probably contract with Training Peaks or someone for that.

    I think music is hard to do in a cross-platform way and I’m not sure Garmin will see the value. (I don’t see the value). Garmin’s not known for their software prowess and I am skeptical they could pull off a cross-platform player. Even Apple has limits on the watch’s music playlist (a single playlist, no podcasts). Perhaps down the road they’ll have offline Spotify or a watch fitted with LTE for streaming so they can let Spotify manage the playlists.

    1. i think it’s too early for Galileo, good point nevertheless.
      music: LOTS and LOTS of runners use music (not me either). implementing it through a CIQ app partnership of some sorts would be the best way to de-risk the software side of things. you’ll see that quite a bit of the pre-delivered functionalities from Garmin are apps.

  3. I suppose that Garmin will move down the line to 245/745 some/all new features from 935: bluetooth for sensors, higher screen resolution, new oHR. And probably they will add something extra that will later appear in 935/F5

    1. would be interesting if Bluetooth sensors move down the range.
      that would be a notable thing to add (don’t know about market demand, but that’s another thing). Hadn’t thought they would do that but you could well be right.

  4. Probably a long way down the road but if they could squeeze a half decent camera into the chassis it would be probably be extremely popular. Have often thought on my lsr that it would be nice to capture the scenery along the route. Of course, the opportunities for running selfies I image would be popular too.!

  5. Do you have any update on when will Garmin release the FR645? Furthermore, any info on the first shipping dates in Europe?

    I am planning to buy a new watch and onboard music would be a huge addition for me.

    1. I have no certain information.
      I assume:
      1. availability will be IMMEDIATE upon announcement
      2. Announcement will be either next week or VERY soon after black friday/cyber monday.
      the leaked pictures came from a store. Stores simply do not have this info months in advance. a release is imminent unless Garmin are playing ‘tricks’ – i wold imagine they have more important things to do with their time.

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