Garmin 745 vs 945 Comparison | Let’s Get Real | What the Forerunner Differences REALLY are.

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Garmin Forerunner 745

Garmin 745 vs 945 Comparison

There seems to be a slight misunderstanding about where the new Garmin Forerunner 745 fits into the overall product line. Let’s try and clarify one important difference that keeps being overlooked when comparing these two top-end tri watches.

 

Similarities

The triathlon feature sets across the 2 watches are identical. OK, only the 745 has got the special track mode but that should be in beta for the 945 and others by the time you read this and, OK, there’s no Respiration Rate metric that you can use in a workout either. But that’s it. 99% of you reading this are going to be fine with the FR745 for doing all your triathlon stuff…planning…training…racing…analysing…SAME.

Differences

Virtually every article about comparing the Forerunner 745 to the Forerunner 945 goes something like “It’s the same as the 945 except the much shorter battery life and no maps yet it’s only $100 cheaper at $500. Crazy! It’s way too expensive.” I’m probably guilty of agreeing with comments on this blog that say the same thing. Why? Well, because it’s essentially a true statement but the IMPORTANCE of the other key difference keeps being overlooked.

The Forerunner 745 is really what might otherwise be called the 945S ie it’s simply the small version.

(Plus the battery life in GPS-mode is really 24 hours…shhhh don’t tell anyone, even Garmin will realise that too soon!)

THAT is an important difference. If no-one has ever told you size doesn’t matter then, well, you haven’t lived. Previously, the old 735XT and old 920XT were visibly different watches targetting different price points and which were also differentiated by a wider difference in features. The Forerunner 745 is targetting a different audience, mainly it’s targetting those who have thinner wrists; and so if you start off at that point then you realise that the comparison you need to consider is that of a Fenix 6 Pro vs Fenix 6s – unsurprisingly, they differ in price by $100 too 😉 So it’s really like the 745 is the 945s and the 945 is really the 945 PRO.

Of course, there are subtleties of a lack of maps, less storage and shorter battery life but those mostly follow from the constraints of the smaller case size that is needed by the different market segment. And then from that, it also becomes obvious that the lack of battery/map makes the 745 unsuitable for people who want to do an Ironman (maybe even HIM) and people with more intelligent routing needs.

There are some other differences but they’re trivial or for another day eg the accuracy levels seem subtly different for both oHR and GPS (chipset/antennae design-size)

Problem

Where the problem comes in is where you start to compare the 745 at $500 with some of the competition. The obvious ‘new kid on the block’ comparator is the Coros Pace 2, which is cheap-as-chips and jam-packed full of features. OK at $200 it’s an expensive bag of chips but you get my point, you get two and a half bags of those chips for the price of the 745…which then means you can put the cash you save toward some quality extras like a power meter.

Take Out

If you are already invested in the Garmin ecosystem then the 745 is a sensible upgrade from the 735XT. If you have bigger wrists and prefer a bigger watch and are targetting an Ironman and might need some navigation then you stump up the extra $100 and go for the 945 (I have one and regularly use it).

Garmin 745 Review | High-End Forerunner For Triathlon

Future

I think that take on the 745 is correct. However, if in the nearish future (Jan 2021) the 945 is replaced by the somewhat mythical Garmin Forerunner 955LTE then that price differential will increase and become a more salient point of difference. I’d say there’s a high chance the 955 forms part of Garmin’s plans and was another reason for choosing the price tag they did

 

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33 thoughts on “Garmin 745 vs 945 Comparison | Let’s Get Real | What the Forerunner Differences REALLY are.

  1. I’d get the 745 if it had LTE. I just want the liberating experience of going on a run without a phone. I’ll probably now just wait for 955.

    Btw if you get the 745, could you please post wrist pictures of comparisons one versus the 945? I wish we had something like https://www.phonearena.com/phones/size but for watches.

    1. there are comparison photos above, there only a few mm in it (see specs), the thickness of each seems the same so the material difference is the diameter. I hadn’t planned to do any more images; though as you asked nicely 😉 I will try and get one into the review. It is the same kind of case size difference as the 6s vs 6. screen size is the same. If you wait for the 955 the actual usable screen size should increase, that would be a good point of difference for me even if i weren’t doing this blog.

  2. Sorry tfk but that’s not 100 % correct (mhm, I’m German… ;-)): The size difference for the Fenix is 5 mm (47 to 42)! The difference for the Forerunner is 3.2 mm (47 to 43.8). Nitpicking, I know! But what I really wonder about is, that the battery-life of the 745 in GPS mode is less than half of the 945 (16 hrs vs 36 hrs). Compared the “little” F6S to the FR745 the Fenix has better lasting energy than the Forerunner (25 hrs vs 16 hrs). Looking at this, the FR745 doesn’t make sense to me…

    1. I still think that Garmin is having a overlapping watch/product issue. There are simply to many models making it hard to customers to choose the right one and this comparison is a great example of Garmins problem.

      Being a Garmin customer and selecting the right watch should be an easy task – if not, then a customer, spends way to much time comparing different garmin products and during that process discovers a non garmin product like Coros 2, Polar Vantage or even an Apple Watch.

      When looking at 745 and 945 there is also another thing to consider besides from the technical-stuff. To garmin the 945 is an old watch and 745 is a new one. Meaning that just like Fenix 5 plus and Fenix 6… then Fenix 5 plus is old and unfortunately seems to be in termination mode = no more new functionality, only bugfixing. So regardless of 945 is way better in may ways.. I would NOT choose it – and I would choose the 745 due to the lack of maps and “limited” battery issue.

      So If you are a current user of af Fenix 5 or 5+ then I would definately wait for the Forerunner 9xx.

      1. @PalletA, yes i agree with what you say

        taking your comment further, “then a customer, spends way to much time comparing different garmin products and “. I would say in that scenario, the customer usually, not always, ends up buying one of their initial choices…a garmin. less time to research other brands

    2. @JJS

      F6s – 42 x 42 x 13.80 mm
      945 – 47 x 47 x 13.7 mm
      745 – 43.8 x 43.8 x 13.3 mm
      F6 – 47 x 47 x 14.70 mm
      735xt – 44.5 x 44.5 x 11.9 mm

      no need to apologise for your Germanic precision…that’s why your cars don’t fall apart 😉
      technically the vagueness of my English means I’m right ” there only a few mm in it”, indeed I could probably argue that ‘a few mm’ covers a discrepency of 1.2cm (12mm) … 😉

      IMHO the battery life comparison is premature. The 945 can get through its battery a LOT quicker than the specs say. I’m still not quite sure why. in the end it will come down to an exact use case. that’s why I include possible lack of suitability for HIM for the 745. I was expecting someone to say ‘how slow do you do your HIMs, no-one does them that slow’…or similar. But I don’t think anyone quite knows what woud happen if you paired lots of sensors and left various other things like Sp02 and broadcast hr turned on. Well, no-one would know that until they accidentally tried it in a race and the battery ran out.

      yes the 25 vs 16 hours doesn’t make complete sense, it could simply be a more conservative claim from garmin

    3. Did anyone verify the battery life on the 745 to be 16 hours? It’s a known fact that Garmin’s specs on their website is often outdated with lots of omissions, and in this case it looks like it’s a typo, 16 hours instead of 26 hours.

      945
      Smartwatch Mode: Up to 2 weeks
      GPS mode with music: Up to 10 hours
      GPS mode without music: Up to 36 hours

      745
      Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days
      GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours
      GPS mode without music: Up to 16 hours

      245
      Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days
      GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours
      GPS mode without music: Up to 24 hours

      All 3 watches are using similar software and internals. GPS with music is the same for the 245 and 745. The slightly bigger 745 at least get the same battery for GPS without music as the 245?

      1. this is a good point. the original garmin.com specs for the 745 said ‘mineral glass’ and that has now been updated to gorilla.
        also two retailers I talked to were given incorrect specs at launch
        24 or 26 (with an improved something or other) would make sense. maybe it has the super accurate sony gps chip that uses more juice 😉 (it doesn’t !!!…probably)

        indeed the official specs say ultratrac is up to 21 hours which is complete nonsense.

        https://the5krunner.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Capture-70.png

        so, this says the battery life in gps-only mode with some other bits turned off is 24 hours

        https://the5krunner.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Capture-71.png

        glad we sorted that out.

    1. my daily watch now is the AW6
      it’s usually the 945 for sport (kinda my default device for my personal data collection)
      last year i used vantage M and V, i still do use the VV for running to power as i like ZoneLock

  3. I m waitin for the 955 but i m not sure i ll need the lte version (if there will be 2 version of the 955). Hope for something new in 2020 (before xmas it would be perfect)

  4. Would you say there is another upgrade coming in the low-mid tier Forerunner area? Such as a 245 plus (with Pay) or a 655 (645 with the newer features) or do you think the Forerunner range is going to be 945/955 – 745 – 245 for the next 12 – 18 months?

  5. I ordered the 745 this weekend at full retail after finding the 945 on Amazon for only $509.00. The 945 is simple too big for my tastes. A 945s was exactly what I’ve been looking for.

      1. Got myself a 6s sapphire for 590 Euros. In Germany, you can get the 6s pro for 540 Euros – prices are heavily fluctuating though. If you don’t mind a couple of grams extra this seems to be a better deal to me.

    1. That would be a little bit rude to say that 🙂 I would say for a quite a large group of trainiacs the battery time is a dealbreaker. And to many like me the lack of maps is also a big issue.

  6. Smaller size should not be a characteristic leading to a high price especially if some features are excluded compared to FR945. FR745 will have longer support and when FR955 pops out with a million price tag, 500$ for FR745 will look better as you mentioned. 🤣

  7. I think the price argument goes away if you look at the 745 as a 935 replacement – which on a feature basis it is except it drops the mapless golf support.

    That said, I am trying to find a Garmin watch and it is not easy with the mix of old and new models intertwined in the price structure, and knowing that they effectively have a two year support span for all but the most egregious bugs – unlike Apple, which is supporting at least 4 year old hardware with watch OS7.

    Garmin should have a lineup something like this:
    1xx: $150, small, no HR
    3xx: $200, small, HR, music
    5xx: $300, medium, HR, music, pulse OX
    7xx: $450, medium, HR, pulse OX, barometer, smart features, Garmin pay
    9xx: $600, large, HR, pulse OX, barometer, smart features, Garmin pay, maps

    If the want to differentiate fitness watches from smart watches, then use:
    2xx, 4xx, 6xx, and maybe they are square face to also distinguish them

    They can still have Fenix, Instinct, and others that same basic internals, but with different cases/construction for ruggedness and/or style

    1. yep but then there is pro sapphire, small/large, solar or not, lte or not, music maps wifi or not.
      the names are going to get real complex, real soon and you have to wonder if the volume is there to justify some of the model combinations. and then what are the FULL/TRUE costs in providing all those variations…all in the name of product differentiation.

      Apple Watch 6, SE, 3. LTE or not, big or small. Even that’s a bit complex but its a heck of a lot easier to understand than what garmin is doing.
      indeed i think we demonstrate that here. most people commenting know garmin products fairly well…and WE are all confused ! what about poor old Jo Public?

      1. They should sell a generic Forerunner with alacarte functions (I want barometer + maps)

      2. yes dcr has mooted that idea a few times. it would be a disrupting business model for sure. it would make retail stocking and sales more vanilla and hence easier. i suspect the add-on purchases would get credited to Garmin directly regardless of the original intention, not sure it would work for the distribution channels that a large company like garmin has (ie the profitability of the distribution channels). Plus, Garmin just aren’t going to do it 🙂
        more likely would be more monetization possibilities of CIQ.

  8. Do you think replacing FR 645 Music with FR 745 is a good idea? FR 645 broke few days ago (damn lug has fallen apart, so I expect refund from wiggle). I don’t mind price of 745 and prefer it over 945 due to smaller size (645 was perfect for me).

    My only concern is that 745 will end up in similar limbo as 645 was where it was relatively new watch but new features just stopped.

  9. I’m still rockin’ my Forerunner 220 from 2013. 😀
    It would be nice to upgrade to the 945 for the long battery life, suitable even for full-day hikes / activities. But $$$. Should get cheaper when the 955 is released though.

  10. I’m confused, if the battery life in GPS mode is 24 hours on the 745, or even “just” 16 hours, why would I need the 945 for an Ironman? Not that I would be buying the 745 over the 945 in any case.

    I’ve just bought a secondhand 735xt on eBay because I’m not an Ironman, I needed a new watch (sick of my Spartan Trainer, it sucks) and didn’t feel like spending a fortune in a market that seems to be in transition, and maybe waiting for the new Vantage V. But now I’m really happy with my “new” watch. I have been won over by Garmin, it’s a much richer ecosystem than Polar, and Suunto is just embarrassing. I don’t see any killer app features on the newer watches, and I won’t be training for more than about 4 hours with GPS any time soon, so I’m in no hurry to upgrade. Honestly, apart from battery life, what useful features am I missing out on, and how useful are they, really?

    I just don’t understand what Garmin are trying to do with the 745. It’s stupid to use the numbering series of the cheaper watch on a new premium watch. I think this watch has been set up to fail. If I have the money for a 745, I’ll be getting a 945 instead. A quick online search throws up new 945s for significantly LESS money than the 745. Are there really enough people out there with tiny wrists to sustain this product?

    1. hey Tim
      the battery lives are ‘up to’. battery life degrades over time and will be less with bells and whistles enabled. you need to find a battery life that is significantly higher than your intended race duration to give yourself wiggle room
      features: polar FLOW is good for certain kinds of athletes and the app is decent. Garmin Connect lacks analysis, tho improving. not everyone wants analysis
      745 numbering…yep!! actually in some ways the 935 is a more predictable performer with all the cool functions and cheaper. that might have been a better choice than the 735xt but that’s cool as well. neither will make you any faster 😉

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