It looks like speculation for the next Garmin sports watch has finally & correctly switched to the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music (FR245M) and non-Music variant (FR245). Indeed, from several sources over the last few months, I would say that the speculation you can read about elsewhere on the net is now almost certainly correct with a release of both the FR245 & FR245M being imminent. This is going to happen in mid-April followed by the Forerunner 945 in May…or the other way around.
As reported first elsewhere on the net, the Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 245M were both registered on the FCC in late 2018 and so it looks like these were the devices that were pulled from CES2019 by Garmin. However, if you look more closely at the FCC registrations and follow through with some related research on the same site, then the case for a 245 is not as clear cut as that link might, at first, suggest.
To be clear: This is all speculation. I don’t know for sure but I do have a high degree of confidence in all of this.
The Forerunner 235 is a solid and ‘proper’ running watch with sensible buttons and functionality in a sensible, sporty format. It is the last CIQ1 device from Garmin that is in need of an techy upgrade, most probably to CIQ3 like nearly all of Garmin’s other high-end devices. This will happen, although I was a little unsure for a while as Garmin released the Forerunner 235L, with no CIQ, as a cut-down model in the Far East in April 2018.
But, as well as needing a techy upgrade, there is also the fact that the 235/245 sits in a LARGE market segment. And that segment is being encroached upon to a limited extent by cheap Chinese models eg Amazfit but also by stalwarts such as Polar with the Vantage M, Suunto with the Suunto Spartan Trainer WHR and Coros with the Apex.
Let’s look at the Forerunner range.
The entry-level TEAMMATE devices are non-CIQ and the EXPERT devices are full-function triathlon watches. Thus all the Forerunner 245 needs to do is replace the 235 in the middle MENTOR tier and, most likely, have a few extra features or, said more correctly, it will be the same as the Forerunner 645 but with some of the 645’s features disabled! It’s unlikely to have ANYTHING that the 645 does not already have – although it is perhaps possible that one entirely new feature might be rolled out to the 245 before any other model.
Garmin Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 245M – Likely Details
The specs for the 245 are under wraps. However, it’s not too hard to infer what will be in them
First up, I’m pretty sure that the 245 Music will support Bluetooth headphones 😉 As well, of course, as all the awesome new Music support that Garmin have recently been working on, the latest being Spotify.
You then have to think what general area will be improved in the 245. It could be SMARTs (Garmin Pay), it could be token support for other sports (swimming like the 645), it could be new physiology metrics (Firstbeat) or it could be more core running features. The 235 was always a ‘runner’s watch’ and so, put like that, it would seem more sensible to assume that the 245 will be more likely to gain more competence in true running functionality.
So, I think the main area that Garmin will add to the 235 to give us in the 245 will be ADVANCED RUNNING DYNAMICS – by now a relatively old feature.
Form Factor & Hardware
In terms of the overall form factor: the screen will be improved to match the 645; the watch should stay light; and the battery should still be good enough to support ULTRAs and, to an extent, perhaps counter the new Coros Apex and the success it has been having. After all ‘being able to run for longer’ is still a true running feature.
Next, as we’ve already said, it will have CIQ3 to differentiate it from the FR25/FR35. CIQ3 requires that the 245 will have a better and faster processor behind the scenes to make the watch run more quickly and support many of the wonders of CIQ. The CIQ apps are now impressive in what they can offer. So just the addition of “CIQ” is WAY more than just 3 token techy letters and can add map, swim and tri support – to name but a few.
Then, POSSIBLY, add to that a BAROMETER and this will give the Forerunner 245 the ability to display running power via the Garmin Running Power app – nah (I don’t think it will have a barometer). You’ll still need a more expensive Garmin or STRYD for running power.
Oh yes and quick release bands too.
The social side of running is embodied by STRAVA segment support and group/live tracking. There’s a good chance these will be added too. Full STRAVA live segment support is now much more mainstream than it was a couple of years ago and is offered in brands beyond Garmin.
Training, Coaching, Planning
Garmin Coach: The 245 will also support Garmin’s running plans (kinda obvious). But these running plans have somewhat stagnated in their depth and breadth since they were first introduced in July 2018. Perhaps Garmin will expand the scope of adaptive plans beyond 25 minute 5k training plans?
I suspect that there will be a Firstbeat feature or two added, like Anaerobic TL, but certainly NOT the whole raft of Firstbeat features found on the 645 as this is one ‘nice-to-have’ area that differentiates the 645 from the 245/235. Tieing in with the previous section, we might see a wholly new adaptive plan from Firstbeat find its way onboard as well…mainly because Firstbeat already provide them to Suunto and others but I suspect Garmin will, instead, stick to its own plans.
Smarts & Connectivity
I would like Garmin Pay to be added but I don’t think it will be. Even though Garmin Pay would generate revenue for Garmin it would blur the lines when comparing the 245 to the Vivoactive 3.
I can’t see the 245 having LTE/cellular support like the VA3M LTE either.
So the improvements with the SMARTS will be better phone integration for calls and apps.
I think we will also see WiFi support added (controversial!) as well as BLE and ANT+ sensor support but do NOT expect cycling power meter support.
Finally, it would make sense for me to see the 245 have better gym functionalities (see below) but, at the same time, I don’t think new sport support will be given to add many/any outdoorsy/navigational features (see below). That would then start to encroach too much on the Instinct/Fenix range.
Price? $280-$300 and add $50 for music. Sorted, I’m probably going to buy one.
I reckon that’s about it. You can look below to guess for yourself what might be in the 245.
THESE are the potential high-level areas that Garmin might add to the 235
Much of the differences shown above are Firstbeat functionality. With the addition of CIQ3 then it would seem silly not to make the most of the enhanced CIQ capabilities. So that would suggest that a lot more Firstbeat functions will be added. Maybe there will be one or two TOTALLY NEW ONES, perhaps linked to training plans? Maybe.
Another of the differences is the 235’s lack of Garmin Pay. Garmin Pay is a feature that Garmin can make additional revenues from so it would seem strange to omit that as a revenue stream. Probably.
But then if those two areas were implemented, all that would remain as a difference would be the metal bezel. Hmmmm. That’s not going to happen.
In fact there are quite a lot of differences between the 235 and 645 that Garmin’s chart above doesn’t show. So, in reality, there are a lot of other niche functionalities to play around with. These are shown in the following table but note that several CIQ apps can provide the missing functionality already
|Garmin Forerunner 645 Music||Garmin Forerunner 235|
|Top-end running Watch||Mid-level Running Watch|
|Headline RRP USA||$450||$300|
|Lens Material||Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3||chemically strengthened glass|
|Bezel Material||stainless steel|
|Quick Release Bands||yes (20 mm, Industry standard)|
|Physical size||42.5 x 42.5 x 13.5 mm||45 x 45 x 11.7 mm|
|Display size||1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter||1.23″ (31.1 mm) diameter|
|Display resolution||240 x 240 pixels||215 x 180 pixels|
|Battery life||Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days||Smartwatch Mode: Up to 9 days|
|GPS mode with music: Up to 5 hours||GPS mode: Up to 11 hours|
|Memory/History||200 hours of activity data||200 hours of activity data|
|Daily Smart Features|
|Text response/reject phone call with text (Android™ only)||Yes||No|
|Find My Watch||Yes||No|
|Activity Tracking Features|
|Preloaded gym activity profiles||Strength Training, Cardio Training, Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing and Yoga||No|
|Automatic rep counting||Yes||No|
|Training, Planning and Analysis Features|
|Configurable lap alerts||Yes||No|
|Training Status (lets you see if you’re training effectively by tracking your training history and fitness level trend.)||Yes||No|
|Training Load (your total training load for the last 7 days calculated from estimated EPOC)||Yes||No|
|Training Effect (anaerobic)||Yes||No|
|Race an Activity||Yes||No|
|Auto multisport activities||Yes||No|
|Manual multisport activities||Yes||No?|
|Segments (Live, Garmin)||Yes||No|
|Strava features (Beacon, live segments)||Yes||No|
|Heart Rate Features|
|% HR max||Yes||No|
|Auto max HR||Yes||No|
|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 (with compatible accessory?)||No|
|Records heart rate while swimming||yes (with compatible accessory)||No|
|Running dynamics (with accessory)||Yes||No|
|Vertical oscillation and ratio (with accessory)||Yes||No|
|Ground contact time and balance (with accessory)||Yes||No|
|Stride length with accessory)||Yes||No|
|Lactate threshold (with accessory)||Yes||No|
|Outdoor Recreation Features|
|Bread crumb trail in real time||Yes||No|
|Compatible with BaseCamp™||Yes||No|
|Sight ‘N Go||No||No|
|Sun and moon information||No||No|
|Dual grid coordinates||No||No|
|Bike lap and lap maximum power (with power sensor)||No Power||No|
|Race an activity||Yes||No|
|FTP (with accessory)||No||No|
|Compatible with Vector™ (power meter)||No Power||No|
|Power meter compatible (displays power data from compatible third-party ANT+™-enabled power meters)||No Power||No|
|Preloaded swim profiles||Pool Swimming||No|
|Pool swim metrics (lengths, distance, pace, stroke count/rate, calories)||Yes||No|
|Stroke type detection (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly)||Yes||No|
|Swim efficiency (SWOLF)||Yes||No|
|Pool swim workouts||Yes||No|