pointless upgrade – Garmin HRM-PRO Plus – Comparison HRM-PRO vs HRM-Dual vs HRM-Swim

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Garmin HRM-PRO Plus vs HRM-PRO vs HRM-Dual vs HRM-Swim – A Comparison

 

TL;DR: The upgrade from the HRM-PRO to the Plus model is pointless. Other than a new battery door there is nothing to differentiate between Garmin’s top 2 heart rate monitors

 

Owners of older Garmin chest straps can check out the following table to see what new features might be on offer if they upgrade to the latest, greatest HRM-Pro Plus. The more significant differences are bolded and I’ll cover why the differences are important after the table

 

 

Garmin HRM-PRo Plus Comparison HRM-Dual (2019) HRM-Swim (2015) HRM-Pro (2020) HRM-Pro Plus (2022)
Real-time heart rate transmission via ANT connectivity (2.4 GHz) when out of water Yes Yes Yes Yes
Supports heart rate variability (HRV) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Transmits real-time heart rate and supports HRV via BLUETOOTH technology to compatible devices and apps Yes No Yes Yes
Number of concurrent connections supported ANT: No limit ANT: No limit ANT: No limit ANT: No limit
BLUETOOTH Low Energy: 2 No BLUETOOTH Low Energy: 3 BLUETOOTH Low Energy: 3
Running dynamics No No Yes Yes
Running pace and distance No No Yes Yes
Running Power Source for high-end Garmin watches only No No Yes Yes
Stores and forwards heart rate data for swimming or stand-alone use cases No Yes Yes Yes
Swim interval heart rate stats No Yes Yes Yes
Pairs with Garmin Connect app No No Yes Yes
Stand-alone activity monitoring (steps, all-day heart rate, calories and intensity minutes) using Physio TrueUp No No Yes Yes
Battery life 3.5 years 18 months 12 months 12 months
(using 1 hour per day) (swimming 3 hours per week) (tri training 1 hour per day) (tri training 1 hour per day)
Tool-free battery door No No No Yes
Water resistance 1 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM
Detachable module Yes No No No
Size range 25″-52″ 23″-57″ 23.5″-42″ 23.5″-42″
(64-132 cm) (58-145 cm) (60–106 cm) (60–106 cm)
Strap Extender (optional No No 23.5″-56″ (60-142 cm) 23.5″-56″ (60-142 cm)
Designed to stay in place during pool swimming No Yes No No
Battery CR2032 CR2032 CR2032 CR2032
MRSP /RRP $70 $100 $130 $130

Garmin HRM-Pro Plus Evaluation

These are all competent and accurate heart rate monitors for recreational and even pro-level athletes to consider.

Sports labs will tend to favour the Polar H10 for a variety of historic reasons including perceived levels of higher accuracy & reliability.

  • For runners: Consider if you really need running dynamics. You already probably get cadence from the wrist and both vertical oscillation & ground contact time have over-rated usefulness in my opinion. HRM-Pro and Pro-Plus both support the calculation of Garmin’s Running Power metric.
  • For swimmers: I find the HRM-PRO perfectly acceptable as a swim watch both in the pool and in open water. My regular pool has reduced chlorine and yours might not in which case the HRM-SWIM is built for that environment and also comes with a non-slip strap. Personally, I find the HRM-Swim to be uncomfortable. If you can do a speedier flip turn than me (highly likely!) then the HRM-Pro can flip over.
  • For Zwifters: You might need those extra Bluetooth connections on the Pro and Pro Plus models to simultaneously connect to various apps, TVs and sports devices. 3 connections are sufficient. Zwift Runners now get pace and distance estimated by the strap.
  • Reliability and longevity: The HRM-Pro/Swim do not have a good battery replacement mechanism and there are large numbers of reports of poor reliability once that first battery is changed. The new tool-free battery door is an improvement in that respect. However, the 1-year battery life is still not great and if you have no need for fancy features just get the older strap that comes with a significantly longer battery life.

Of course, for all these extra features produced by the strap you need to check that your watch supports them too. Otherwise, you’ll just get the basic HR/HRV measures and that’s also generally true if you use these straps on competitor watches.

 

Competitor Straps & My Usage/Thoughts On Them

I’m a big fan of Wahoo bike computers and their Rival watch. I’m less of a fan of their chest straps and prefer Garmin straps.

The Polar H10 (or Polar H9) is probably the best, pure HRM chest strap but the battery life is unpredictable and that’s why I only use the H10 for waking HRV readings. However, triathletes or swimmers who love their special Garmin data and the ability to cache data, won’t get those features from Polar.

The Garmin HRM-Pro is my preferred strap and I will eventually replace it with a Pro Plus model. The ONLY reason I use the top-end Garmin strap is because of its ability to cache HR when underwater.

Also, consider the Polar Verity Sense arm strap if you want basic HR data (no HRV). I use those all the time for this blog’s data comparisons. It’s accurate.

The Price

Ouch. At $130 it’s not cheap. the Polar H9 is more than half the price

All the links should go to a store in your country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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25 thoughts on “pointless upgrade – Garmin HRM-PRO Plus – Comparison HRM-PRO vs HRM-Dual vs HRM-Swim

  1. Lazy Update by Garmin. Hope the new compartment does not suck. No new Features such As Status LEDs Temperatur Sensor etc 😑

    1. yes it seems mostly pointless too unless there were commercial issues with returns/complaints on the hrm-pro.
      (hrm-pro will have features added to match the PRO version).
      Perhaps more is to come?

      1. I’ve sent two HRM Runs back through water ingestion after battery change. They’re just too fragile.

  2. useful table thanks, except that i’ve got an HRM-Tri – where does that fit in the picture? ie is there any meaningful benefit to upgrading? i think its basically the same as the pro? really confusing with so many different straps!

    1. yes that’s right. No bluetooth on the hrm-tri.
      (My hrm-tri is still going strong…well, one of them is)
      I suspect it wont get the upgrade to broadcast speed/distance tho

  3. In fact, I don’t see any reason to “upgrade” your heart rate strap still works. If don’t have one or yours dies, then this is helpful.

    I don’t think it’s a minor update for Garmin. Since I bought my Garmin 935 bundle back in the days with the HRM Tri, Garmin sent me a replacement unit for the strap 3 (!) times for free. Everytime the strap died shortly after I changed the battery.

    When the new battery compartment resolves the problem, it’s a huge win for Garmin.

  4. How about pace/distance detection calibration for treadmills, does HRM pro support this as well ?

  5. I wouldn’t call it a pointless upgrade. It looks like I’m finally able to replace the battery without destroying the device through water ingestion because you’ve cracked the glass-like case with a half screw turn too many.

  6. I have a feeling that garmin should replace broken (water ingress) hrm-pro and hrm-tri with hrm-pro plus (or offer an upgrade option).

    It is their design flaw.

  7. The one part I’d be really interested in seeing is the quality of the live pace/distance when set to always use on the watch compared to Stryd. If this was in the same ballpark for accuracy and responsiveness it could be compelling to ditch the foot pod altogether.

    1. fair question. ty.

      with limited time, i just wouldn’t test that as i would imagine it won’t be anywhere near as accurate as stryd. If there are credible reports that the Plus is accurate i might give it a go on testing.

      1. DCR had positive looking results when compared to Stryd on a treadmill. It would be interesting to see if they remain consistent outdoors. Two specific scenarios for me, live pace on roads and distance accuracy on trails.

      2. I would love to see it compared to stryd distance. I do trail running mostly and the Stryd is remarkably accurate and consistent. DCR tested but by using calibration based on GPS. My Fenix watches have always shorted the distance by a sizable amount. The treadmill generally will have a very consistent stride. Very interested!

      3. The overall reporting was certainly very similar, but within that the HRM Pro+ certainly seemed to very closely mirror the Stryd reported speed (and therefore pace) and the graph appears relatively smooth indicating stable reporting of live pace. An interesting comparison would be on single track trail with plenty of swicthbacks.

  8. Can anyone please help me if the HRM is a real added benefit when used with the Fenix 7?
    I’m in doubt if it adds anything more than running dynamics in regard to running.

    1. it adds running power and one or two of the firstbeat metrics MUJST have a chest strap to calculate eg lactate threshold.
      sometimes you might lose a few beats of HR and the HRM caches your workout and fills the gaps at the end.
      bottom line: it adds accuracy. nearly all the firstbeat stuff comes from hr…garbage in…garbage out

      1. Stupid question, but lets say Polar H10 vs HRM Pro Plus … when u have a Garmin Fenix … is there any value switching to the Garmin HRM?

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