Garmin Forerunner 235 – Hands-On Review

This is a guest post by Conor Henrie.

Garmin is no stranger to the world of fitness gear, as they have long been an industry leader in the space. The company has a variety of watches out there for everyone, whether you are looking to simply track steps or you’re trying to have a technological training partner for your twentieth marathon. As someone who fits in the middle of that spectrum, the Garmin Forerunner 235 seemed like a great fit. The watch is far from a new release but still maintains its position as perhaps the most highly-recommended fitness watch out there. With the growing threat of smarter competitors (Apple Watch Series 2, etc.), it seemed like the right time to dip my toe in the water. I have been using the 235 daily for about two months, and it is a great solution for almost everything you could need from a fitness watch, with some added “smart” capabilities to boot.

garmin forerunner 235 watch aerobic

Of initial utmost importance is the design of the watch. Coming in a variety of colors, the Forerunner 235 is sleek and simple, with a round face that helps it pass for a typical watch at a quick glance. The band is comfortable and adjustable, and the watch is fully waterproof to many more meters than I will ever be submerged. One of the main goals in wearing a fitness watch is to not stand out as a person wearing a fitness watch, and the 235 accomplishes this goal. It blends in whether you are wearing running clothes or business attire, and with multiple downloadable face options (more on this later), you can fit the design to your preference quite easily.

garmin forerunner 235 watch three different display view

The main reason anyone would be purchasing this type of watch is clear – they’re interested in tracking their fitness activities. The Forerunner 235 accomplishes this goal and does a great job of keeping it simple but also comprehensive. Tracking metrics such as distance, pace, steps per minute, heart rate, and plenty of other useful data, even the most ardent data lovers will be satisfied by the 235. Additionally, the daily heart rate and steps tracking is vital for the more casual wearer to monitor general level of activity. The user interface is fairly straightforward, simply requiring a click of a button or two to activate activity tracking modes, and the watch is always tracking your steps and heart rate in the background.

garmin forerunner 235 watch smart notifications

Another interesting use of the 235 is its inclusion of “smart” notifications. This simply means that when you get a notification on your phone, it will show up on the watch face. You can view them in more detail or dismiss them in a click and it’s a great way to keep yourself un-tethered (or more tethered, depending on your view) from your phone. It’s a good feeling to know that if you’re on a run and you get an important message, you’ll have the ability to see it. It’s just as nice to know if you get an annoying group text when your phone is in the other room, you can quickly dismiss it with a click.

garmin forerunner 235 watch strap

Of utmost importance to the Forerunner 235, and many other Garmin products, is the Connect app. In here, you can easily track your activity, view details, look at your history, compete with friends, and add capabilities to your 235. The Connect IQ Store allows you to add applications, watch faces, data fields and widgets to your watch. Each are pretty helpful, as I’ve added a few data fields, some weather widgets and a new, simpler watch face. This is a small but useful piece of the total experience of owning a Forerunner 235. A little bit of personalization goes a long way when you’re wearing a mass-produced watch that thousands of runners in any city are likely wearing.

Overall, the Garmin Forerunner 235 has been an excellent watch to own, both as a daily wear and a fitness tracker for a more casual runner like myself. I’ve found myself enjoying runs and other exercise more than ever, as the data tracking allows for insights into your performance at a high level. The fact that the watch is good looking enough to wear to an office every day is a huge plus on top of its intended capability. For anyone looking to blend a top notch fitness tracker with an understated daily watch, the Garmin Forerunner 235 is a great option.

Garin Forerunner 235

Conor Henrie is a Senior Business Analyst in the Technology Strategy Consulting industry.