Garmin Forerunner 45 Preview – Specs Comparison 45s too

The two Garmin Forerunner 45 running watches have arrived and they nicely complete the entry-level end of Garmin’s 2019 range, I’m not sure I will do a full review at all so, for now, let’s go ahead now with a preview-cum-opinion piece.

In Brief
  • Price - 75%
    75%
  • Build Quality & Design - 80%
    80%
  • Features, Including App - 80%
    80%
  • Openness & Compatability - 80%
    80%
79%

Summary

This is a pleasant, entry-level device that perhaps justifies its non-entry level price to those that care about training plans, connectivity and optical HR.

I *DO* like the package that has been put together and how it is sensibly targetting the casual runner who is probably also a gym goer and avid activity tracker. I’m guessing that many of you who are thinking of buying this will be interested in heart rate to measure progress and calories. Well, you have Garmin’s newest optical HR sensor to do that but every vendor’s optical HR is a little bit hit-and-miss in terms of the accuracy so here’s hoping you will be one of the luckier ones.

I think Garmin has made a fair call by the OMISSION of music and apps and you should be looking at more advanced models for that kind of feature, at least for Garmin you will be. Yet I think the omission of easily interchangeable straps and a little bit more running functionality might be a mistake. But, if you like the colours & sizes on offer, then all is good. Even the inclusion of CIQ watch faces is a clever move by Garmin.

You’ve got some serious Garmin tech inside this somewhat pretty-looking sports-watch, it’s well-made and is one of those devices where the only buyer’s remorse you might have in buying it would be that you didn’t go for the more expensive model instead. Garmin is a safe bet when it comes to picking a sports watch and they price accordingly – that means you CAN get a better running watch at the same price but you can also get a worse one as well.

Still, at least in the UK, you can sneak a discount with the link below if you are a new customer to Wiggle

Pros

  • Sensible aesthetics for a wide appeal
  • Thought-through options covering wrist size and safety concerns will appeal to some target demographics
  • Decent-enough battery
  • A great upgrade choice from a FR25/35 or basic activity tracker if you’re looking to get a bit more sporty
  • Garmin Coach is a nice bonus for free plans
  • Market-leading Garmin CONNECT ‘ecosystem’ really adds to the value

Cons

  • Price
  • Need either more smarts or more running features to justify the price

Jump To

Garmin Forerunner 45 – Where Are We?

Garmin Forerunner 45The earlier, Garmin Forerunner 35 from 2016 was an acquired aesthetic taste albeit in a useful square format. It was ‘sort of’ alright but I found it hard to recommend except at 11:30 on a Friday night. Perhaps my view at the time was tainted by the device’s seemingly over-reliance on Garmin’s good CONNECT infrastructure to beef it up to more of a running offering than it really was.

Almost 3 years further on and we have two replacements; the Forerunner 45 and Forerunner 45s, the latter being a smaller format watch for smaller wrists.

What Is It? What’s New?

The new Forerunner 45 entirely replaces the older Forerunner 35 which will effectively be discontinued once current stock is sold-up.

It’s an entry-level running watch which is perfectly fine for beginners and seasoned runners alike and packs in a very decent tranche of Garmin’s pure-running functionalities. However, the ‘smarts’ and ‘connectivity’ that are packaged around that are OK but relatively thin-on-the-ground. I can see exactly why Garmin has made the various calls about what should be in all of the new Forerunner watches, it makes sense within the range but Garmin does not have superiority at the cheaper end of the price range and its offerings are easily threatened by those from competitors to the point where competitors might over-trump Garmin’s usual trump card…ie that of MORE FEATURES. To be clear, at this price point there are better and cheaper competitor products that offer MORE features…more, that is if you take into account non-running features.

What’s New – Hardware Base

The Forerunner 45, when compared to the 35, is a totally different bit of kit. The shell has obviously changed from square to round and so the watch looks entirely different. But everything on the inside is different too…everything. Indeed the Forerunner 45 is really a cut-back version of the newer and more expensive Forerunner 245 rather than a beefed-up FR 35. This means that inside, it contains all-new, high-tech components for 2019 ie: ELEVATE HR sensor v3; GNSS/GALILEO Chip (Sony); battery; larger screen with higher resolution; straps; all of it.

Some aspects of the new hardware, like the bigger and better screen, may consume more battery but battery savings elsewhere, such as with the Sony chip, mean that overall the battery life is materially unchanged from the earlier FR 35. So, with up to 13 hours of GPS usage on one charge – that’s decent.

What’s New – Firmware

All has changed and yet all has not changed.

To me, there is some confusion about what the Forerunner 45 is trying to be. Garmin’s strength has ALWAYS been the ‘sport’ piece rather than the ‘smart’ piece.

So, enabling the use of gym-based sports profiles is sensible, adding a bit extra activity tracking functionality is sensible,  adding a few more ‘smarts’ is sensible. Yet Garmin have done those sensible things rather than nailing some of the more niche ‘running’ features which are included in the 235. But Garmin is also putting the price up. Thus Garmin is leaving the door open for some competitors to do better running features at the same price (China, Polar) and clearly also leaving the door open for MANY competitors to do WAY superior ‘smarts’ at the same price (Amazfit, Apple, Samsung, WearOS and more).

So I can sort of talk myself into thinking that the FR45 makes sense from some perspectives. But when I look in a digital shop window at my sub-$200 choices, I’d probably go elsewhere.

Maybe Garmin plan to lower the price after a year’s worth of convincing the legacy customers to upgrade ie those who have already tied their workout history into Garmin Connect and who are thus reluctant to move platforms?

What’s New – Personalisation & Protection

Other than your initial choice of colour, size and the ongoing ability to change watch faces, there’s not so much that you can do to make the Forerunner unique to you. Although one of Garmin’s strengths is to personalise the display of the data that you have available during your runs but that’s standard stuff these days on many watches.

For those of you worried about running in remote locations there are also assistance and incident detection features which send your location to selected emergency contacts via your smartphone.

What’s New – Physiology

These are nice features to support & enhance the legacy, activity tracking stuff. The Firstbeat features, though limited on this watch, really start to take activity, rest & sleep onto the next level to help you understand more about what your efforts actually all mean to your overall fitness levels and how you feel.

 

What’s New – Garmin Coach

Well, it’s not new, but it is a very nice addition to the 45 which makes the overall running offering more attractive to novice runners. Garmin Coach offers adaptive running plans which sound great but which are a little let down in the execution. Nevertheless, they are great for beginner-level runners (>25 min/5k) and the plans deliver individual workouts to your watch which you can follow.

Basic Specifications

More complete specs are shown at the end with a comparison to the old Forerunner 35 and the new, higher-spec Forerunner 245.

  • Dimensions: small: 39.5 x 39.5 x 11.4 mm @32g, large: 42 x 42 x 11.4 mm @36g
  • Screen: 26.3mm dia, 208x208px – not great. Strengthened glass NOT gorilla glass
  • Battery life: up to 7 days in smartwatch mode; up to 13 hours in GPS mode  – GOOD
  • Waterproof 5 ATM (you can swim with it) – FINE

Price, Discounts & Availability

Use REI in the USA who now have stock and they give members 10% off (link to: rei.com). Definitely use Wiggle in the UK where you can get a new Customer Discount with the code NEWGB at this link (here) with platinum discounts of in-stock products up to 17% in boost periods. They will also get stock earlier than most other retailers. Wiggle is also pretty good on the whole throughout the Eu I’m just not sure of the in-stock status for May 2019 for non-UK markets.

Delivery should be mid-may if you order from from Wiggle

 

 

Garmin Forerunner 45 (45s) Specifications & Comparison

Here are the full specs (Source: Garmin.com) and a comparison to the Forerunner 35 that it succeeds and the 245 which is the next model up.

 

Forerunner® 45 Forerunner® 245 Music Forerunner® 35
$199.99 USD $349.99 USD $169.99 USD
GPS running watch with Garmin Coach training plan support GPS running smartwatch with advanced training features and music Easy-to-use GPS running watch with wrist-based heart rate
General
Lens Material chemically strengthened glass Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 chemically strengthened glass
Bezel Material fiber-reinforced polymer
Quick Release Bands yes (20 mm, Industry standard)
Strap material silicone silicone silicone
Physical size Small: 39.5 x 39.5 x 11.4 mm 42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 (mm) 35.5 x 40.7 x 13.3 mm
Fits wrists with a circumerence of 124-185 mm
Fits wrists with a circumference of 127-204 mm Fits wrists with a circumference of 140-200 mm
Large: 42 x 42 x 11.4 mm
Fits wrists with a circumference of 129-197 mm
Display size 1.04″ (26.3 mm) diameter 1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter 0.93″ x 0.93″ (23.5 x 23.4 mm)
Display resolution 208 x 208 pixels 240 x 240 pixels 128 x 128 pixels
Display type sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Weight Small: 32 g 38.5 g 37.3 g
Large: 36 g
Battery life Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days Smartwatch Mode: Up to 9 days
GPS mode: Up to 13 hours GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours GPS mode: Up to 13 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 24 hours
Water rating 5 ATM Swim, 5 ATM 5 ATM
Color display Yes Yes
Memory/History 200 hours of activity data 200 hours of activity data 7 activities
Clock Features
Time/date Yes Yes Yes
GPS Time Sync Yes Yes Yes
Automatic daylight saving time Yes Yes Yes
Alarm clock Yes Yes Yes
Timer Yes Yes No
Stopwatch Yes Yes Yes
Sunrise/sunset times No Yes No
Sensors
GPS Yes Yes Yes
GLONASS Yes Yes No
Galileo Yes Yes No
Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor Yes Yes Yes
Compass No Yes No
Accelerometer Yes Yes Yes
Pulse Ox No Yes No
Connectivity
Connectivity Yes Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi® Yes
Connect IQ™ (downloadable watch faces, data fields, widgets and apps) Only watchfaces Yes No
Smart notifications Yes Yes Yes
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android™ only) No Yes No
Calendar Yes Yes Yes
Weather Yes Yes Yes
Controls smartphone music Yes Yes Android™ supported; iPhone® not supported
Plays and controls watch music No Yes No
Music Storage No up to 500 songs No
Find My Phone Yes Yes Yes
Find My Watch Yes Yes No
VIRB® Camera Remote Yes Yes No
Smartphone compatibility iPhone®, Android™ iPhone® and Android™ iPhone®, Android™
Compatible with Garmin Connect™ Mobile Yes Yes Yes
Safety and Tracking Features
Incident Detection during select activities yes (Smartphone Required) yes (Smartphone Required) No
Assistance yes (Smartphone Required) yes (Smartphone Required) No
LiveTrack Yes Yes Yes
Live Event Sharing No Android™ Only No
Activity Tracking Features
Step counter Yes Yes Yes
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
Calories burned Yes Yes Yes
Distance travelled Yes Yes Yes
Intensity minutes Yes Yes Yes
TrueUp™ Yes Yes Yes
Move IQ™ Yes Yes Yes
Fitness Age yes (in app) yes (in app) No
Body Battery™ Energy Monitor Yes Yes No
All-day Stress Tracking Yes Yes No
Gym & Fitness Equipment
Available gym activity profiles Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Yoga may be added through app Strength, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Indoor Rowing and Yoga Cardio Training
Cardio workouts No Yes No
Strength workouts No Yes No
Automatic rep counting No Yes No
Training, Planning and Analysis Features
GPS speed and distance Yes Yes Yes
Customizable data pages Yes Yes Yes
Customizable activity profiles Yes Yes Yes
Auto Pause® Yes Yes Yes
Interval training Yes Yes Yes
Advanced workouts Yes Yes No
Downloadable training plans Yes Yes No
Auto Lap® Yes Yes Yes
Manual lap Yes Yes Yes
Configurable lap alerts No Yes No
V02 max Yes Yes Yes
Training Status (lets you see if you’re training effectively by tracking your training history and fitness level trend.) No Yes No
Training Load (your total training load for the last 7 days calculated from estimated EPOC) No Yes No
Training Effect (aerobic) No Yes No
Training Effect (anaerobic) No Yes No
Customizable alerts No Yes No
Audio prompts Yes Yes Yes
Finish time No Yes No
Virtual Partner No Yes No
Race an Activity No Yes No
Course guidance No Yes No
Touch and/or button lock Yes Yes No
Auto scroll No Yes No
Activity history on watch Yes Yes Yes
Physio TrueUp Yes Yes No
Heart Rate Features
HR zones Yes Yes Yes
HR alerts Yes Yes Yes
HR calories Yes Yes Yes
% HR max No Yes No
% HRR No Yes No
Recovery time No Yes No
Auto max HR No Yes No
HR Broadcast (broadcasts HR data over ANT+™ to paired devices) Yes Yes Yes
Running Features
Available run profiles Running, Treadmill Running. Indoor Track Running may be added through app Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running yes
GPS-based distance, time and pace Yes Yes Yes
Running dynamics No yes (with compatible accessory) No
Vertical oscillation and ratio (the degree of ‘bounce’ in your running motion and the cost-benefit ratio with stride length) No yes (with compatible accessory) No
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) No yes (with compatible accessory) No
Stride length (real time) No yes (with compatible accessory) No
Cadence (provides real-time number of steps per minute) Yes Yes Yes
Performance condition (after running 6–20 minutes, compares your real-time condition to your average fitness level) No Yes No
Run workouts Yes Yes No
Race predictor No Yes No
Foot pod capable Yes Yes Yes
Outdoor Recreation Features
Point-to-point navigation No Yes No
Bread crumb trail in real time No Yes No
Back to start No Yes No
TracBack® No Yes No
UltraTrac mode No Yes No
Distance to destination No Yes No
GPS coordinates No Yes No
Cycling Features
Available cycling profiles Biking. Indoor Biking may be added through app Biking, Indoor Biking yes
Courses No Yes No
Race an activity No Yes No
Time/distance alerts (triggers alarm when you reach goal) Yes Yes Yes
Compatible with Varia Vision™ (head-mounted display) No Yes No
Compatible with Varia™ radar (rear-facing radar) No Yes No
Compatible with Varia™ lights No Yes No
Speed and cadence sensor support (with sensor) yes Yes yes
Swimming Features
Available swim profiles No Pool Swimming No
Pool swim metrics (lengths, distance, pace, stroke count/rate, calories) No Yes No
Stroke type detection (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly) No Yes No
Swim efficiency (SWOLF) No Yes No
Drill logging No Yes No
Pool swim workouts No Yes No

 

In Brief
  • Price - 75%
    75%
  • Build Quality & Design - 80%
    80%
  • Features, Including App - 80%
    80%
  • Openness & Compatability - 80%
    80%
79%

Summary

This is a pleasant, entry-level device that perhaps justifies its non-entry level price to those that care about training plans, connectivity and optical HR.

I *DO* like the package that has been put together and how it is sensibly targetting the casual runner who is probably also a gym goer and avid activity tracker. I’m guessing that many of you who are thinking of buying this will be interested in heart rate to measure progress and calories. Well, you have Garmin’s newest optical HR sensor to do that but every vendor’s optical HR is a little bit hit-and-miss in terms of the accuracy so here’s hoping you will be one of the luckier ones.

I think Garmin has made a fair call by the OMISSION of music and apps and you should be looking at more advanced models for that kind of feature, at least for Garmin you will be. Yet I think the omission of easily interchangeable straps and a little bit more running functionality might be a mistake. But, if you like the colours & sizes on offer, then all is good. Even the inclusion of CIQ watch faces is a clever move by Garmin.

You’ve got some serious Garmin tech inside this somewhat pretty-looking sports-watch, it’s well-made and is one of those devices where the only buyer’s remorse you might have in buying it would be that you didn’t go for the more expensive model instead. Garmin is a safe bet when it comes to picking a sports watch and they price accordingly – that means you CAN get a better running watch at the same price but you can also get a worse one as well.

Still, at least in the UK, you can sneak a discount with the link below if you are a new customer to Wiggle

Pros

  • Sensible aesthetics for a wide appeal
  • Thought-through options covering wrist size and safety concerns will appeal to some target demographics
  • Decent-enough battery
  • A great upgrade choice from a FR25/35 or basic activity tracker if you’re looking to get a bit more sporty
  • Garmin Coach is a nice bonus for free plans
  • Market-leading Garmin CONNECT ‘ecosystem’ really adds to the value

Cons

  • Price
  • Need either more smarts or more running features to justify the price

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