Garmin Forerunner 935 – too cheap?

I managed to get a ‘great deal’ on my second Garmin 935, with the price at the time coming in at GBP430, as shown below. That’s a low price for the UK but about the same as the US$499 current price on Amazon. But that price got me thinking (often a dangerous thing 😉 )

Garmin 935 Review best tri watch
No Garmin Freebies here folks


It got me thinking on whether or not the Garmin 935 was too expensive or, perhaps, too cheap.

Arguments for: “It’s too expensive”.

I’m one of the first to moan if I think something is too expensive. I’m more than happy to pay what I consider to be a fair price for something and realise that the manufacturer has to make a profit to re-invest in their own future.

I would tend to compare a product to the competition and figure out that it’s got, let’s say, 5 additional features. Perhaps I’d only use two of those additional features. In a realistic case with the 935, let’s say those additional features are: the ability to support multiple run-bike ‘brick’ repeats; and the ability to support ANT+ sensors.

Milestone Pod Review Garmin 935So how MIGHT I place a value to me on those features?

  • ANT+ :: Well LOTS of companies do that ‘feature’. It’s common, although not in the direct competition. It’s probably cheap to implement. Let’s say it’s worth £30 (read as: $30, Eu30)
  • Brick repeats – That’s a relatively unique feature that is scantily available outside of the Garmin ecosystem. Let’s face it we can get by without BRICK REPEATS with a few extra key presses. I’m just being lazy saying that I want Brick repeats. To compound that, how often do I really use that feature? Maybe 5 times a year? Maybe 10 times? Certainly NOT every week. Then again it IS a feature specific to the intended use that I bought the 935 for in the first place. Let’s say it’s generously worth £50 to me.

I don’t especially like the looks of the product, though it’s fine. I could knock a bit off the value to me because of that. There are lots of other features, some of them unique, such as all the clever Firstbeat metrics. Those are toys for me. Interesting … but they don’t add any value to me although they WILL add value to others.

So we are adding £30+£50=£80 onto the price of a competitor product like the V800 (£267) or SPARTAN TRAINER (£200). So that makes it generously worth about £350 which is still £80 LESS than I spent on what at the start of this month.

Conclusionette: It’s too expensive

Counter: You might come back at me with a well-worn phrase like ‘It’s only worth what someone will pay for it‘ and I clearly DID pay £430 for it. So, the argument goes, it IS worth £430 to me.

The argument may be a bit more nuanced than that as I had no choice but to buy the watch because of this blog. In reality I’d have paid more for it. BECAUSE I HAD TO.

Other arguments against the 935’s price would include features which the 935 does not implement as well as the competition eg GPS accuracy and other features that just don’t work as well as they should eg optical HR.

Arguments For: It’s too cheap

It’s got lots of features. And I mean lots. If you work out the cost per feature it may well come out cheaper than the SPARTAN Trainer. Pricing based on the accumulated cost/value of all the features may well make it more expensive. You could construct a reasonably plausible argument along those lines.

It is a cutting-edge product. It has cutting edge features that you can’t get elsewhere. There is a certain, mystical ‘something’ that the informed owner gets by wearing such a sports watch.

Putting aside the ‘you’re paying to be a beta tester’ argument, the early buyers of technology tend to be the ones who will pay a premium for whatever reason – be that ‘novelty-‘ or ‘toy-‘ related reasons.

Garmin 935 Amazfit STRATOS Suunto SPARTAN Trainer
Garmin 935 Amazfit STRATOS Suunto SPARTAN Trainer

A related argument for a new product would come out along pure economics lines. Namely that a new product will usually have lower production volumes as the company determines market demand, irons out early issues and starts to ramp product volumes incrementally higher. So, at the start of such a process, the product is scarce and scarcity combined with demand can lead to higher prices.

That economic argument was certainly true for the first few months of the 935’s retail life. It was generally hard to find one and buyers had no choice but to pay the full RRP as retailers had usually pre-sold models before even receiving their stock allocation. But, that moment in time is now well and truly passed.

Another argument could be along the lines of trying to answer the question “What will the market bear?“. Many triathletes are relatively wealthy in the global scheme of things. I think many would pay more for what is probably the best triathlon watch.

Indeed if we look at Amazon’s pricing we can see that prices go up and down; probably based on their stock levels at any given time compared to demand at any given time. Amazon seem to have a clever model that adjusts the price for what their market will bear. Maybe the Amazon price broadly reflects the true market price? Maybe.

Let’s say that instead of releasing the 935 how they did…ie en masse. That, instead, Garmin released 1000 units every month. What would people have paid for them given the restriction on supply? I would GUESS that in an auction those first 1000 units would have gone for very high prices. I would guess at over $1000/£1000/Eu1000.

Clearly Garmin have to balance production levels and the cost of holding back stock to support such a model. Whilst such a method WOULD maximise the price paid for each INITIAL Garmin 935 (review) it certainly would NOT maximise the total product revenues for Garmin over a longer period –  for example if instead they released 2000 units globally maybe they would have sold them at $900. I’m sure Garmin’s marketing team will be modelling scenarios along similar lines to that.

Garmin 935 STRYD

Perhaps instead Garmin could have maximised PROFITS and sold the 935 initially only through its own shop. That would cut out dealer margins entirely (which are probably a third, or less, of the 935’s price). Again that would also be a balancing act as such as strategy would seriously hack off certain dealers and, if often repeated, would eventually give Garmin distribution issues if dealers refused to work with them.

Perhaps also Garmin learned something from the release fo the CHRONOS? (Currently >$900) Effectively that was an expensive format Fenix 4. It’s not quite the same as the Fenix 5 and the Fenix 5 itself is nearly identical to the 935 in terms of functionality; even if parts of the hardware are different and don’t work ;-). Perhaps such a super-expensive watch gave Garmin a more true insight into the number of people who really are prepared to pay big bucks for a sports watch with a life of only 2 to 4 years.

Furthermore remember that there are no likely immediate successors to the 935. There will NOT be another product that essentially matches the 935’s features AND THEN DELIVERS SOME MORE FEATURES over and above that. Even the replacement V800 will not do that.

Maybe there are also arguments about avoiding annoying their intended market. Effectively forcing people like me to pay a large premium compared to the 920XT and then seeing the price collapse 9 months later is not a great move.

My Conclusion: I reckon they could have squeezed the market throughout most of 2017 for prices of over £550.

Thought: With increasing competition at the lower ends of the market from the likes of Amazfit with the STRATOS, perhaps we shall see prices rise for Garmin’s premium products to compensate?

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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18 thoughts on “Garmin Forerunner 935 – too cheap?

  1. Personally, I think the 935 was an anomaly for Garmin, and one we will probably never see again from them. What I think they were gunning for was a alternate watch for those that wanted all the “bells and whistles” found in the Fenix line, but didn’t want to really break the bank (even though the cost is eye-watering for most). What they got though by complete accident was a watch able to do everything (but maps from the 5x) the Fenix watch could, AND had a much better external sensor support….at $200 cheaper.

    You are dealing with a segment of users that are all about tracking their own personal metrics (and to a degree competition with friends and others). If that group can do it for cheaper and deal with a “more fragile device,” which as a person that’s owned Fenix watches in the past is not really that big of an issue. By this point in my time with the fenix 3hr bezel was marred while I have nothing on my 935. Still, the watch does everything the current Fenix line does (again no maps) and happened to work much better than Fenix line for external sensors. Without the radio problems the 935 would have most likely not made the waves it did.

    So where do they (any everyone else) go from here? Well to quote you:

    “There will NOT be another product that essentially matches the 935’s features AND THEN DELIVERS SOME MORE FEATURES over and above that. Even the replacement V800 will not do that.”

    Simple. The future isn’t going to rely on how much they can package under-the-hood. On-board music? sure. Maps on ALL tri watches? Probably. NFC support? It seems like it. No, what will be the focus for consumers is going to be accuracy. And it’s not only about how close are these metics getting to the actual, but who is delivering it. Every company (Suunto,Polar,Garmin) will eventually get to a place where they are giving the user the same “tools,” it will come down to how precise those tools are.

    Personally, I think Garmin plays fast and loose with their products, Suunto is lacking in metrics and needs to push themselves out of their comfort zone and Polar is meticulous, which ends up with nothing from them for YEARS. The answer is going to come down to which of these companies realize this first and perfect their features because there aren’t many more features to add.

    When the data these watches report are neigh-perfect….then they might have a problem creating new devices, but I don’t see anywhere else ANY of the sportwatch companies can go.

    1. maybe
      there are lots of different segments of users who will buy the 935. you describe a couple of those segments.
      accuracy: all the surveys say this is one of THE most important things that MOST people want. Yet they buy Garmin and use oHR.
      maybe, really, it comes down to ACTIONABILITY. Garmin’s GPS is accurate enough that many people simlpy don’t notice and the ohr is always less accurate than a chest strap BUT for some people the ohr is close enough.
      i’ll caveat my 935 repalcement comment: not until 2019. not unless the Fenix5 plus line also includes a 945 (which i don’t think it will from what i’ve heard)

      i dont think suunto are lacking metrics. they have enough. they are lacking an app store for SPARTAN and lacking ANT+ compatability.
      “there aren’t many more features to add” this is broadly true for sport-features but then we talk about galileo and group tracking and soon there are quite a LOT of peripheral features that a new entrant will NEVER be able to match in v1 of their product (unless they have a vibrant app store to leverage 3rd part efforts)

      anomoly: i don’t really see the 935 as an anomoly as such. no doubt a fenix 6 and 945 will follow in 2019. but in the sense that it accidentally got a few things right and the F5 accidentally got a few things wrong then, yes, the 935 is anomolous in the Fenix 5 product line. It seems fairly clear/likely that Garmin will broadly standardise in the future on a few physical forms and then tinker with the software in it to enable/disable bits of tech.

      1. A 935xt? I truly doubt it. As for the suunto comment, what I should have stated was lacking in options, namely in the “give me’s” Everyone else already has, like sleep tracking or a connection to Myfitnesspal. Everything connects to MFP but Suunto. But things like an app store and Ant+ support aren’t on Suunto, but neither are they on Polar (currently on the newer watches). Every tri sportwatch is also a 24/7 activity tracker within the Garmin ecosystem; the spartan line is a bit wishy-washy on that end. Personally I want those features and Suunto doesn’t give me the whole package like Garmin does.

  2. I do my brick repeats using the duathlon mode on the V800, so it’s the Garmin is £50 less valuable to me…

    For me Garmin following the Apple iPhone refresh rate, every 2 years just isn’t acceptable, I want my devices to be supported fully for 3 or 4 years, which Polar have always done (so far).
    Although Garmin has the upper hand with iQ in terms of functionality, that is of little use when they upgrade it every 10 minutes and don’t make it backwards compatible.

    1. yes the 2 years is quite galling. however overthe last few years tech has moved on quite rapidly. so, in a 2-3 year time horizon, some of the nice extra bits around core sports functionality have changed – most basic being a decent screen and the improved battery management to be able to power it. that’s basically all polar really need to improve on the v800 (oh and ant+ too 😉 )

      yes about the CIQ from Garmin – it’s taken several years for the CIQ stuff to start getting useful, the most recent being running power – although many, probably including you!, might doubt the usefulness of that one 😉

  3. Hmm.. this is an interesting debate. I paid £430 for my 935 from Wiggle.
    The main reasons for upgrading from the Fenix 3 were:
    1. It’s a smaller watch that feels less conspicuous and is more comfortable on long runs (I do marathons and ultras). I was at a xmas meal last night with running friends – several wearing the F3. I forgot how HUGE it is! Value – about £30 for me (I did get used to the F3, used a Velcro strap so it didn’t bob about, but def prefer the smaller 935)
    2. Battery life – despite it being a smaller device, the battery is excellent. This was a huge deal for me – I now don’t worry about charging it until it hits less than 10% as I know I’ve still got > 1 hour run left in it. It also seems to charge very quickly. I’m lazy so forget to charge, and I do long events – so 20 hours of life is a huge win. Value £50+ easily
    3. I have been on board with runscribe since the kickstarter, and have been hoping (and continually suggesting to Tim) that they work with CIQ and broadcast live metrics to the watch for display and FIT file recording. I know this is possible in the F3 with some very good CIQ coding efficiency work from the community, but the extended hardware and CIQ capabilities of the 935 will likely see longer term support, and the ability for the watch to deal with more complex data streams (although it did hang and then reset recently on a long run with navigation, runscribe and another CIQ full page data field on the go). Value £50
    4. In built oHR. Yes, it’s a but flunky sometimes (to borrow a DCR technical term!), but it’s convenient. For hard interval sessions, and during the winter months when I’m wearing long sleeves, I have an OH1 and accuracy there seems pretty good. But for the majority of the year, the oHR is ‘good enough’, and certainly tracks close to the OH1 during most sessions (compared using the aux HR field). Resting HR is also ‘interesting’, but not sure I’d put much value on it. Value £50 (I’m generally lazy so like the convenience, and one less thing to charge!). Value £50
    5. Firstbeat stuff… I use and the Health features there give training load and fatigue. It’s a useful tool to keep an eye on progress (even if there are a few bugs there). Garmin’s firstbeat metrics are designed to take that to the next level. HOWEVER… I’m not convinced. I have steadily increased mileage over the last month after injury, and its been on ‘unproductive’ most of the time (I KNOW I am getting fitting and quicker, and HR is holding much lower during steady runs etc). The 7.10 firmware update has now reset the metrics – the watch telling me to run outside a couple of times to get a reading – not great a week before my next marathon, and heading into Spring Ultra/marathon training. Thankfully I don’t rely on these metrcis, but I know some people who are really driven by them. Their frustrations are 10x mine! It’s a ‘nice to have, so value about £20.
    So without thinking too hard, that’s £200 of value over and above the F3. I sold that for £200 when I bought my 935 – so the £430 outlay, taking into account the F3 sale and the value above, suggests I made the right choice and its about priced at the right point for me (give or take £30!).

    1. ah yes…

      but how much WOULD you have paid for the 935? £530?…that’s give or take £100 rather than +/-£30. i’d guess you could afford it.

      how much of the purchase is post-purchase rationalisation? I probably feel like you about the 935 yet, reallym the screen is too small and too round 😉 for a proper sports watch

      7.10 – that explains my stats from this morning then. grrrrr.

      yep the stats are sometimes good and sometimes not. my sporttracks trainingload stats are saying i shoudl feel better than i do right now, whereas (apart from this morning) the 935 has been alright at confimring that i feel ‘not great’. when i trained a bit more seriously i used to use an ithlete-like HRV thing, the stats on the 920, firstbeat athlete and trainingload calcs…i could never rely on one . but they all helped to confirm or deny how i felt (usually knackered!)

      1. I think £530 would be pushing it a bit. Thats a heck of a lot of money for a watch. At that point you stop rationalising the value, and just see the fact its >£500. Even if its money I could afford, it still needs to show value. A second 220 does the basics… Is a 935 worth £400 more than that!?
        I agree about it being post-purchase rationalisation – hindsight is a great thing, but its worked out this time. I have had lots of Garmins, some for a year or more, others for only a few months. I’m happy to sell up and move on if something isnt right, or if an alternative ‘better’ device (for my needs) comes along.
        Interesting comments about tracking condition – but in the end you summarise about how you ‘feel’. Maybe we need to learn to trust that a little more, rather than the bleepy things on our wrist, or the screen infront of us (but I’m the WORST for not listening to my own body, so get why others want the external tracking too!).

  4. i was lucky to get a FR 935 in summer at -15% sale when it was sold everywhere at list price, i´ve payed ~400GBP for a new one, but sold it two weeks ago for 360GBP.

  5. Personally I would have paid $100 more for the 935 than the Fenix 5, just for the reduced size and weight (but I even prefer the 935 looks). At $500, the 935 is probably about right and the Fenix 5 simply over priced. I had always wished they had come out with a Fenix 3 light.

    Once you have the included hardware, CIQ probably adds the most value to me. Largely because I write my own apps, but also because it will be able to adapt well beyond Garmin’s limited support lifetime. No waiting for Garmin support for things like runscribe that will probably never come (from Garmin). The community can support it themselves.

    The one much more complicated price comparison is to the apple watch. I would gladly pay an extra $100 for the built in cell support so my wife could track me when I don’t have my phone. But the limited battery life and not always on display pretty much bring the apple watch value to Zero for me. But the apple watch is a pretty inexpensive device for many for what you do get.

    On the accuracy front, I find OHR and GPS in different categories. OHR is inaccurate enough “for me” that any thing derived from it is questionable. So suddenly the firstbeat features become useless. Garbage data in, garbage recommendations out. GPS, while not perfect, still tells me everything I really need to know about distance and track. Maybe if I was racing for a podium spot the extra couple of seconds per mile accuracy would matter, but not for the majority of us. So no added value for OHR/Firstbeat, and no negative value for GPS accuracy in my book.

  6. I paid $450 for my 935, which I got to replace a 5S because of the sensor issues. I would not have paid any more for the 935, and even then it was a tossup vs. the Spartan Trainer (which I tried for a few days and had its own issues).

    I really liked the appearance of the all black 5s for daily wear, and it was easily worth its price for me IF the sensors worked. I might switch to a 645 next year just for a better look with business attire (especially the compatibility with standard quick release bands). The 935 is still a big watch.

    1. yeah i reckon the 935/5s look pretty alright on the whole.
      i’m not sure you will like the 645 (i haven’t seen one yet in the flesh). if it’s like the va3 then it won’t exude quality. which, imo, the 935 and 5s do.

      1. i have seen it a bit lower elsewhere but once you get a sale below £400 you just go for it. maybe you’ll find it £5 cheaper ina few weeks time…or you might find it £20 more expensive.

  7. Joining the discussion late, but per the comments below it seems you guys are missing the point. 935 inception was to replace the 920xt for triathletes continuing the Garmin proposal of releasing something new every couple of years (or so). In the triathlon community, 920 and 935 are no-brainers. Very light, long battery life, durable and packed with all the existing data a performance athlete would want.. there’s no a lot to compare with the phoenix watches.. phoenix are also packed with features, but they are made for an active life style, not exactly an endurance sport life style.. I see Garmin covering different segments and smartly broadening their market share.

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