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Garmin Forerunner 245 review

Four years in the making, but worth the wait

Garmin Forerunner 245 review
(Image: © TechRadar)

Our Verdict

Bursting with features, the Forerunner 245 squeezes a lot into such a compact and lightweight device. Then again, it doesn’t come cheap - especially for a watch made predominantly from plastic. But if you can get over this, it should deliver pretty much everything you’d need from a fitness tracker as long as you’re not super serious about your training, or too bothered about immensely detailed running stats.

For

  • Lightweight and unobtrusive design
  • Super comfortable, even during sleep
  • Great battery life

Against

  • Still feels a little cheap
  • Sleep tracking could be more accurate
  • No triathlon mode or Garmin Pay

Despite still being a popular pick for runners, the Garmin Forerunner 235 has been on the market for quite some time. Launched all the way back in 2015, it has taken Garmin four years to bring us the successor, namely the Forerunner 245. But the good news is it should have been worth the wait, bringing with it a slew of new features, sensor updates and tracking options.

So what’s new? For starters, the Garmin Forerunner 245 tracks more sports than before, including strength training and swimming. It also gives you better feedback on your training to help you tell if your load is too low or too high, as well as daily stress insights and an indication of whether you should be resting or not, thanks to Garmin’s Elevate heart rate sensor.

Best of all though, it has been given a battery upgrade, lasting more than twice as long as its predecessor when GPS is active. There’s a lot crammed in to such a compact smartwatch, but is the design a trade-off? Let’s find out.

Garmin Forerunner 245 price and availability

  • Out now in the UK, US and Australia
  • Starts at £249.99 / $299.99 / AU$469.99
  • Can pick up the Music edition for just £50 / $50 / AU$90 more

The Garmin Forerunner 245 is out now in the UK, US and Australia and at £249.99 / $299.99 / AU$469.99 costs £50 less than its predecessor ($30 less in the states and the same in Australia) did when it first launched four years ago.

While that price is without built-in music playback support, you can pick up the same watch with this function for just £50 / $50 / AU$90 more.

Garmin Forerunner 245 review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design, display and comfort

  • Crisp color screen
  • Improved resolution display
  • Comfortable silicone strap

The Forerunner 245 is definitely not a smartwatch that people are going to buy as an extension of their smartphone or to look pretty on their wrists, but it hasn’t been designed for those reasons.

Aimed at providing fitness tracking data to those who workout often but aren’t trying to be the next Paula Radcliffe, the Garmin Forerunner 245 includes a good number of sports tracking capabilities but not at the expense of form factor.

As a result, it doesn’t look or feel too obtrusive on the wrist, but with its largely plastic build it doesn't look or feel overly expensive either. It’s a mere 38.5g with a 30.4mm diameter face, which is pretty small in comparison to the company’s Fenix series, for instance.

Garmin Forerunner 245 review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

It’s this lightweight design, alongside its comfortable silicone strap, that makes the Forerunner 245 an absolute dream to wear during all kinds of sports and activities. You barely notice you’re wearing it.

The true test of comfort, we think, is wearing a smartwatch during a yoga class. If you can happily arm balance and back bend your way through an hour of vinyasa without feeling the urge to take it off, you know you’re on to a winner. In fact, we did two yoga practices with the Forerunner 245 and even wore it while sleeping four nights in a row and it felt extremely comfortable throughout, so a massive thumbs up there.

While the Garmin Forerunner 245 is slightly thicker than its predecessor on paper, you’re probably not going to notice - perhaps because it is smaller and lighter overall. The body has dropped down from a 45mm case to 42.3mm, something you’re only likely to recognize if you’re a Forerunner 235 user.

Still, it’s a good size, especially for viewing performance data mid-workout or run. On the sides, there's the same Garmin physical button setup you’ll find on most of its fitness-focused devices.

There’s no touchscreen here, but this is intentional. It not only works better for many physical activities - especially in water - but it also saves on crucial battery life. As always with Garmin, this button setup does take some getting used to if you’re a newcomer to the firm’s devices, but after no time at all, it will all make sense.

Garmin Forerunner 245

(Image credit: TechRadar)

As for the display, Garmin has upgraded the Forerunner 245’s screen from a 215 x 180 resolution on the Forerunner 235 to a 240 x 240 resolution, adding a welcome touch of sharpness and better detail that wasn’t present in the 235. The 1.2-inch screen is a good size too - being big enough to feed you the data you need without overloading you with information.

If you’re familiar with Garmin devices, you’ll know the firm doesn’t achieve display brightness through a backlit AMOLED screen as seen on many other smartwatches. Instead, it uses transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) tech which relies on external sources of light to illuminate the screen and what’s being presented on it.

This works really well on the Forerunner 245, and we never found a time where we couldn’t see what was being displayed on screen - all the timings, heart rate information and elevations illuminated brilliantly, especially in direct sunlight.

Obviously, this only really works in well-lit conditions, but for darker times, there’s an LED backlight that lights up at the touch of a button, when required (again, to save on battery life).