The Garmin Forerunner 235 has been one of my main recommendations for friends wanting good quality but affordable fitness tracking for the past few years, though the Vivoactive 3 has dropped low enough to be a better alternative for most now.

With the launch of the new Forerunner 245, there is a new choice for people not wanting to spend a fortune on a sports watch. It does come at a big price increase compared to the current pricing of the FR235 and Viviactive 3, but it brings with it a lot of upgrades. In fact, it has so many upgrades that it has become a viable alternative to the Garmin 645.

So how do the watches compare?

Price

I tend to be quite price sensitive with a lot of my reviews and recommendations so we had best get this out of the way.

The Forerunner 645 has an RRP of £350 or £400 for the music version. This technically puts it £100 more expensive than the FR245 and normally I would be inclined to say that for a lot of people, they would be better off with the FR245.

The problem being is that at the moment the FR645 can be bought for £289 or the music edition for just £299 from Wiggle making it exactly the same price as the FR235

Differences

Normally you would think that the FR645 is immediately better than the FR245 with it being higher up the product ladder, but with the FR245 launching a year later it has had a few tweaks and upgrade the other watch lacks.

Both watches have the Firstbeat feature but the Forerunner 245 offers 14 features compared to 11 of the FR645 with the addition of body resources, respiration rate.

Respiration rate

Respiration rate describes how often you inhale and exhale in a minute. It is also a primary vital sign along with heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Resting respiration rates are typically between 12-20 times per minute during rest and can be around 40-50 times per minute during intense physical activity.

You do need an Optical HR strap like the HR run or HR Tri

Body Resource

Garmin calls this feature body battery and takes the physical activity, stress, and recovery data and combines it. You then get a. Body battery score to enable you to make better, more informed decisions based on your physical condition.

Race Time Predictor

This feature is designed to give you a heads up on how long it will take you to complete several popular race distances. Distances include 5k, 10k, half-marathon and marathon.

The Forerunner 245 also has a superior battery life when using GPS, which could be essential for anyone into ultramarathons or other full day events.

The Forerunner 645 offers battery performance of;

  • Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days,
  • GPS mode with music: Up to 5 hours
  • GPS mode without music Up to 14 hours

The Forerunner 245 offers battery performance of;

  • Smartwatch Mode is up to 7 days
  • GPS mode with music is up to 6 hours
  • GPS mode without music is up to 24 hours

However, the Garmin Forerunner 645 has more sports profiles which should cover pretty much anything you do. That being said the FR235 has jumped up from three options to 16 options, and the other option is still there when you want to track something not listed.

The Forerunner 645 comes with barometric altimeter which will give you far more accurate elevation readings, as well as stairs climbed. You also get Garmin running power when you connect a compatible accessory. The final difference is the ability to be able to have more data fields during workouts.

Conclusion

It is a tough call, the music edition of the watches are currently priced the same, I am very interested in trying the new ELEVATE HR sensor with Pulse OX and the respiration rate on the FR245.

However, I think most fitness enthusiasts will benefit from the running power support, barometric altimeter and the Strava live segments. It also features the NFC contactless payment which is a handy feature if you have a compatible bank.

Or even cheaper at Eglobal, though this will be a grey import so Garmin may not honour any warranties.

Comparison Table

DC Rainmaker does some nice comparison tables, I have included the FR945 too, just because it is newly launched.

FUNCTION/FEATUREGARMIN FORERUNNER 245/245 MUSICGARMIN FORERUNNER 645GARMIN FORERUNNER 945
PRICE£250/£300£289/299 (WITH MUSIC)£519
GPS RECORDING FUNCTIONALITYYESYESYES (WITH GALILEO TOO)
DATA TRANSFERUSB, BLUETOOTH SMART, WIFI (ONLY MUSIC HAS WIFI)USB/BLUETOOTH SMART/WIFIUSB/BLUETOOTH SMART/WIFI
WATERPROOFING50 METERSYES - 50MYES - 100M
BATTERY LIFE (GPS)UP TO 24HRS REGULAR GPS, 24HRS+ FOR ULTRATRAC14HRS GPS/5HRS GPS-MUSIC36HRS GPS, 60HRS ULTRATRAC
RECORDING INTERVAL1-SECOND, SMART, ULTRATRAC1S OR SMART1S OR SMART
SATELLITE PRE-LOADING VIA COMPUTERYESYESYES
QUICK SATELLITE RECEPTIONGREATGREATGREAT
ALERTSVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUAL
BACKLIGHT GREATNESSGOODGREATGREAT
ABILITY TO DOWNLOAD CUSTOM APPS TO UNIT/DEVICEYESYESYES
ACTS AS DAILY ACTIVITY MONITOR (STEPS, ETC...)YESYESYES
MUSICGARMIN FORERUNNER 245/245 MUSICGARMIN FORERUNNER 645GARMIN FORERUNNER 945
CAN CONTROL PHONE MUSICYESYES (FR645 MUSIC VERSION)YES
HAS MUSIC STORAGE AND PLAYBACKYES (MUSIC VERSION)YES (3.5GB)YES
STREAMING SERVICESSPOTIFY, DEEZER, PANDORASPOTIFY, IHEARTRADIO, DEEZERIHEARTRADIO, SPOTIFY, DEEZER
CONTACTLESS-NFC PAYMENTSNOYESYES
BLUETOOTH LEGACY (PRE-4.0) TO PHONENONONO
BLUETOOTH SMART (4.0+) TO PHONE UPLOADINGYESYESYES
PHONE NOTIFICATIONS TO UNIT (I.E. TEXTS/CALLS/ETC...)YESYESYES
LIVE TRACKING (STREAMING LOCATION TO WEBSITE)YESYESYES
GROUP TRACKINGNOYESYES
EMERGENCY/SOS MESSAGE NOTIFICATION (FROM WATCH TO CONTACTS)YES (VIA PHONE)NOYES (VIA PHONE)
BUILT-IN CELLULAR CHIP (NO PHONE REQUIRED)NONONO
DESIGNED FOR CYCLINGYESYESYES
POWER METER CAPABLEWITH SOME CONNECT IQ APPS (BUT CANNOT RECORD DATA)NOYES
POWER METER CONFIGURATION/CALIBRATION OPTIONSN/AN/AYES
POWER METER TSS/NP/IFN/AN/AYES
SPEED/CADENCE SENSOR CAPABLEYESYESYES
STRAVA SEGMENTS LIVE ON DEVICENOYESYES
CRASH DETECTIONYESNOYES
DESIGNED FOR RUNNINGYESYESYES
FOOTPOD CAPABLE (FOR TREADMILLS)YES (ALSO HAS INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)YESYES
RUNNING DYNAMICS (VERTICAL OSCILLATION, GROUND CONTACT TIME, ETC...)YES (WITH ACCESSORY)WITH RD POD, HRM-TRI OR HRM-RUN (NOT VIA OPTICAL HR)WITH RD POD, HRM-TRI OR HRM-RUN (NOT VIA OPTICAL HR)
RUNNING POWERNOYES WITH RD-POD OR 3RD PARTY APPSWITH EXTRA SENSOR
VO2MAX ESTIMATIONYESYESYES
RACE PREDICTORYESYESYES
RECOVERY ADVISORYESYESYES
RUN/WALK MODEYESYESYES
DESIGNED FOR SWIMMINGYESYESYES
OPENWATER SWIMMING MODENONOYES
LAP/INDOOR DISTANCE TRACKINGYESYESYES
RECORD HR UNDERWATERNONOWITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (NOT WITH OPTICAL HR)
OPENWATER METRICS (STROKE/ETC.)N/ANOYES
INDOOR METRICS (STROKE/ETC.)YESYESYES
INDOOR DRILL MODEYESYESYES
INDOOR AUTO-PAUSE FEATURENONO (IT'LL SHOW REST TIME AFTERWARDS THOUGH)NO (IT'LL SHOW REST TIME AFTERWARDS THOUGH)
CHANGE POOL SIZEYESYESYES
INDOOR MIN/MAX POOL LENGTHS17M/18Y TO 150M/Y17M/18Y TO 150Y/M
ABILITY TO CUSTOMIZE DATA FIELDSYESYESYES
CAN CHANGE YARDS TO METERSYESYESYES
CAPTURES PER LENGTH DATA - INDOORSYESYESYES
INDOOR ALERTSYESYES
DESIGNED FOR TRIATHLONNONOYES
MULTISPORT MODENONOYES
CREATE/FOLLOW CUSTOM WORKOUTSYESYESYES
ON-UNIT INTERVAL FEATUREYESYESYES
TRAINING CALENDAR FUNCTIONALITYYESYESYES
AUTO START/STOPYESYESYES
VIRTUAL PARTNER FEATUREYESYESYES
VIRTUAL RACER FEATUREYESYESYES
RECORDS PR'S - PERSONAL RECORDS (DIFF THAN HISTORY)YESYESYES
DAY TO DAY WATCH ABILITYYESYESYES
HUNTING/FISHING/OCEAN DATANONOYES
TIDAL TABLES (TIDE INFORMATION)NONONO
JUMPMASTER MODE (PARACHUTING)NONOYES
GEOCACHINGNONOVIA GPS COORDINATES
WEATHER DISPLAY (LIVE DATA)YESYESYES
FOLLOW GPS TRACK (COURSES/WAYPOINTS)YESYESYES
MARKERS/WAYPOINT DIRECTIONNOYESYES
ROUTABLE/VISUAL MAPS (LIKE CAR GPS)NONOYES
BACK TO STARTYESYESYES
IMPROMPTU ROUND TRIP ROUTE CREATIONNONOYES
DOWNLOAD COURSES/ROUTES FROM PHONE TO UNITYESYESYES
ALTIMETER TYPEGPSBAROMETRICBAROMETRIC
COMPASS TYPEN/AMAGNETIC
OPTICAL HEART RATE SENSOR INTERNALLYYESYESYES
PULSE OXIMETRY (AKA PULSE OX)YESYES
HEART RATE STRAP COMPATIBLEYESYESYES
ANT+ HEART RATE STRAP CAPABLEYESYESYES
ANT+ SPEED/CADENCE CAPABLEYESYESYES
ANT+ FOOTPOD CAPABLEYESYESYES
ANT+ POWER METER CAPABLENONOYES
ANT+ WEIGHT SCALE CAPABLENONONO
ANT+ FITNESS EQUIPMENT (GYM)NONONO
ANT+ LIGHTING CONTROLYESYESYES
ANT+ BIKE RADAR INTEGRATIONYESYESYES
ANT+ TRAINER CONTROL (FE-C)NONONO
ANT+ EBIKE COMPATIBILITYNONONO
ANT+ MUSCLE OXYGEN (I.E. MOXY/BSX)YESYESYES
ANT+ GEAR SHIFTING (I.E. SRAM ETAP)NONOYES
SHIMANO DI2 SHIFTINGNONOYES
BLUETOOTH SMART HR STRAP CAPABLEYESYESYES
BLUETOOTH SMART SPEED/CADENCE CAPABLEYESYESYES
BLUETOOTH SMART FOOTPOD CAPABLEYESYESYES
BLUETOOTH SMART POWER METER CAPABLENONQOYES
TEMP RECORDING (INTERNAL SENSOR)NOYESYES
TEMP RECORDING (EXTERNAL SENSOR)YES (TEMPE)YESYES
COMPATIBLE WITH FIRSTBEAT HR TOOLS-N/AYES