Brands, Comparisons

Garmin 235 vs 735

A new running clock follows to the next. And at the forefront is Garmin again. Just a few weeks ago, the Garmin Forerunner 235 WHR came on the market as a successor to the FR 225 and the FR 230. Now a few weeks later follows the triathlon heart rate monitor Forerunner 735 XT.

Without a heart rate monitor, most people can no longer imagine doing sports. All the more comfortable, now that all manufacturers make it possible to measure the heart rate comfortably on the wrist. Because let’s face it, without a chest strap, running is just more fun. Whether the Garmin Forerunner 235 and 735 it manages to beat the proven pulse watches with chest strap, and what new highlights they have in other ways, you will learn here in my practice test.

Since the pulse watches Forerunner 235 and 735 XT look not only visually confusing but also have many standard new features, I’ll take a closer look at both here in the test. In advance, you’ll get a brief and concise from me the key figures, the price and for which athlete I would recommend these two heart rate monitors.

Specifications for Forerunner 235 and 735 XT

Forerunner 235 WHR

  • Heart rate sensor on the wrist
  • Dimensions 46 x 46 x 13mm
  • Display size, W x H 31.1 mm diameter
  • Display resolution, W x H 215 x 180 pixels
  • Touchscreen  no
  • Color display Yes
  • Weight 41.3 g
  • Battery in watch mode: up to 9 days
  • Battery in GPS mode: up to 11 hours
  • GPS and Glonass: yes
  • Barometric altimeter: no
  • Smartphone notifications: yes
  • Vibration alert: yes

Forerunner 735 XT

  • Heart rate sensor on the wrist
  • Dimensions 45 x 45 x 11.7 mm
  • Display size, W x H 31.1 mm diameter
  • Display resolution, W x H 215 x 180 pixels
  • Touchscreen  no
  • Color display Yes
  • Weight 40.2 g
  • Battery in watch mode: up to 11 days
  • Battery in GPS mode: up to 14 hours
  • GPS and Glonass: yes
  • Barometric altimeter: no
  • Smartphone notifications: yes
  • Vibration alert: yes

RUN and WHEEL FUNCTIONS

Forerunner 235 WHR

  • V02max estimate: yes
  • Recovery counselor: yes
  • Run forecast: yes
  • Accelerometer (calculates the distance for indoor training without the need for a foot pod): yes
  • Pace alarm (If you deviate from the set pace, an alarm will sound): yes
  • Interval training (set training and pause intervals): yes
  • Heart rate-based calorie calculation: yes
  • Training Effect (effect of activity on aerobic fitness): yes
  • Display views customizable: yes
  • Virtual Partner® (training against a virtual person):  yes
  • Virtual Racer ™ (compete against other activities): yes
  • Route function (you can transfer routes and follow them):  yes
  • Switching between sports modes by pressing a button (triathlon): no

Forerunner 735 XT

  • V02max estimate: yes
  • Recovery counselor: yes
  • Run forecast: yes
  • Accelerometer (calculates the distance for indoor training without the need for a foot pod): yes
  • Pace alarm (If you deviate from the set pace, an alarm will sound): yes
  • Interval training (set training and pause intervals): yes
  • Heart rate-based calorie calculation: yes
  • Training Effect (effect of activity on aerobic fitness): yes
  • Display views customizable: yes
  • Virtual Partner® (training against a virtual person):  yes
  • Virtual Racer ™ (compete against other activities): yes
  • Route function (you can transfer routes and follow them):  yes
  • Switching between sports modes by pressing a button (triathlon):  yes

SWIMMING FEATURES:

Forerunner 235 WHR

  • Swimming pool functions (lanes, distance, pace, number of trains/number of trains, calorie consumption):  no
  • Swimming style identification (e.g., crawl swimming): no
  • Open water swimming functions (distance, pace, number of moves/number of trains, calorie consumption): no
  • Swimming training:  no

Forerunner 735 XT

  • Swimming pool functions (lanes, distance, pace, number of trains/number of trains, calorie consumption):  yes
  • Swimming style identification (e.g., crawl swimming):  yes
  • Open water swimming functions (distance, pace, number of moves/number of trains, calorie consumption):  yes
  • Swimming training: yes

ACTIVITY FUNCTIONS

Forerunner 235

  • Pedometer: yes
  • Auto Target (learns how active the user is and assigns a daily goal steps): yes
  • Inactivity bar (displayed on the device after a period of inactivity, going around for a few minutes to reset the display): yes
  • Sleep monitoring (monitors the total sleep time and times of exercise or quiet sleep): yes

Forerunner 735 XT

  • Pedometer: yes
  • Auto Target (learns how active the user is and assigns a daily goal steps): yes
  • Inactivity bar (displayed on the device after a period of inactivity, going around for a few minutes to reset the display): yes
  • Sleep monitoring (monitors the total sleep time and times of exercise or quiet sleep): yes

Garmin Connect ™

Forerunner 235

  • Compatible with Garmin Connect, Apps management, training analysis, sharing with an online community: yes
  • Automatic synchronization of training data with the PC or smartphone: yes

Forerunner 735 XT

  • Compatible with Garmin Connect, Apps management, training analysis, sharing with an online community: yes
  • Automatic synchronization of training data with the PC or smartphone: yes

For which athletes fits which heart rate monitor?

Garmin Forerunner 235

  • The Garmin Forerunner 235 is for runners, indoor runners, bikers, for the gym,  actually for all athletes who are looking for a very high-quality heart rate monitor with very accurate heart rate measurement on the wrist. And still, want to have a fitness tracker and a few smartwatch features.
  • Exception: Triathletes, swimmers, and athletes who prefer an exact and always up-to-date altitude measurement.

Garmin Forerunner 735 XT

  • The Garmin Forerunner 735 XT is designed specifically for triathletes who want to get rid of their chest strap (at least for all sports on land). But also for highly ambitious athletes who want to accurately determine their swimming and running efficiency values.
  • Exception: athletes who prefer an exact barometric height measurement.

TIP: The barometric altimeter is a bit more accurate than the GPS-based altimeter. Anyone looking for such a sports watch may be right with the following heart rate monitors. Polar V800, Garmin Forerunner 920 XT, Garmin Fenix 3 HR.

The appearance and operation of the two Garmin heart rate monitors

  • As I mentioned at the beginning, the Forerunner 235 and 735 XT look very similar. At first glance, they can only be distinguished by the different bracelets. Both in color and in feel.
  • The bracelet of the Forerunner 735 XT is currently available in two colors. In black and turquoise. The bracelet is a bit tighter compared to the Forerunner 235 not so soft.
  •  But still very comfortable to wear. Both go at first difficult through the eyelet, which is also equipped with a small re-hook. But that will become easier over time.
  •  The bracelet from the Garmin Forerunner 235 is now available in 6 different colors, from a bright yellow to gray, purple, black and white, frost blue to marsala red. The developers remain true to their previous pattern in optics, and thus probably have such a great success. Because the Garmin Forerunner 235 indeed finds its name because of its striking appearance, since it is on the market.
  • Moreover, the bracelets are very easy to replace. For example, it is also possible to exchange a bracelet from the Forerunner 225 or 230 to the 235 model. Replacement bracelets are already available for less than 15 euros. Partly in very lovely funky colors.
  • The operation of both Forerunners is the same. Five big smooth buttons operate them. Sometimes it bothers me that I accidentally press the start button while dressing a jacket or shirt. I often hang on to it. Nevertheless, the operation with buttons is more pleasant to me than with a touch display, as with the Forerunner 620.
  • The operating menu of both the Forerunner 235 and the 735 XT is the same and logical. Anyone who has been busy for at least 10 minutes can quickly change their default settings. What I like is that I can use a lot of activity data/sports data for both heart rate monitors. Without a paired smartphone, which I do not always have on hand.
  • Both sports watches have been in daily use with us for almost nine months. Thanks to the tough glass, you will not see any scratches on either the Forerunner 235 or the 735 XT. Despite two crashes where my bike did not go where I wanted to go. Who wants to play it safe, buys a protective film for the display.

Optical comparison to TomTom and Polar

I know for many athletes it is essential which functions the individual pulse watches contain. For just as many, however, the appearance is an essential reason for buying. So I took three pictures like the Garmin Forerunner 235 in comparison to the current TomTom Runner 3 ( TomTom Runner 3 test ) and the most popular pulse watch from Polar, which looks like the M 400. ( Polar M400 test )

It is striking that all three brand manufacturers have remained true to their design. TomTom probably has the narrowest and most unobtrusive models. But unfortunately, the display is only available in black and white. At Polar, the models M400, M600 and V800 are similar. Only the new Polar M200 has now been given a different design. 

Heart rate monitors without chest strap

Let us now come to the probably most significant advantage of the Forerunner 235 and Forerunner 735 XT. With both heart rate monitors, you can run “up without.” So without the annoying chest strap. The optical sensor comes no longer from the manufacturer Mio Global, as still in the predecessor model of the Forerunner 225.

Garmin has meanwhile developed its own optical sensor. The technique is called “Elevate” and is also used successfully in the Fenix 3 HR and the fitness bracelet Vivosmart HR.

Often I read in reviews that the Garmin Forerunner 235 with the RF measurement on the wrist would be too inaccurate.

I can not tell that and my girlfriend. I guess 98% of the time I measure both heart rate monitors very accurately. Nevertheless, the following reasons could cause inaccuracies.

  • Tattoos on the forearm
  • strong dark hair
  • Dirt on the lenses

We have also experienced one or the other times that the Forerunner 235 and 735 XT for a short time utopian or no pulse measurements indicated.

Although the cleaning of the lenses did not help, we merely restarted the heart rate monitor, and the problem was solved. That might happen once a month. I can live very well with that.

Display of the rest pulse

What not only pleases me very much but also seems to be a buying argument for many other athletes is that the Garmin Forerunner 235 displays your current resting pulse with just a click of the button.

The display also tells you via a bar chart the pulse history of the last four hours. He also shows you your lowest and highest pulse from the previous four hours. Thus, the Forerunner 235 is currently the only sports watch that can offer you that.

In the settings, you have two options how the Garmin Forerunner should measure the pulse:

Smart Activity / Tracker Mode:

In this context, the pulse is recorded dynamically and not permanently. This means that the Forerunner 235/735 only checks your pulse rate every few seconds. The more you move, the more often the pulse is measured. Of course, this setting saves battery power. In my opinion, this attitude is enough. Of course, once you choose a sport and you move, the Forerunner 235 switches to permanent heart rate monitoring.

Permanent – every second – mode:

If you choose this mode, then the heart rate measurement will run permanently in the background. This means that the green LEDs forever record your heart rate and allow you an even more detailed representation of the pulse values.

Otherwise, I can also say in comparison to the V800 from Polar ( Polar V800  test ) that the values are already very accurate. We use the Garmin Forerunner 235 not only as a heart rate monitor but also as a fitness bracelet. Since we are convinced that only fitness tracker with accurate RF measurement excellent results (especially calorie consumption) can calculate.

For us, the Garmin Forerunner 235 is currently the benchmark of all heart rate monitors without a chest strap. But we are looking forward to the new Polar M600. (  Polar M600 test.) You should also be able to get along without a chest strap. I have already ordered them but will be delivered in early September 2016.

Fitness tracker in the Forerunner 235/735 XT

I never thought that I could get motivated by a fitness tracker. But the Forerunner 235 did it with my girlfriend and me. For nine months, we now have the pulse watches 24 hours on the wrist and there are rarely days when we can not achieve our fitness goals.

Motivate the following points:

  • “Forget it!”   Reminds you the Forerunner 235/735 XT if you do not move for more than 60 minutes. Then you should go at least 50 – 100 meters at a time otherwise every few minutes follow the next memory. Since then, I can deliberately plan short breaks in the work.
  • Very accurate calculation of consumed calories. Both pulse clocks break down both the passive calories consumed and the active ones through exercise. The Forerunner 735 XT you can see the same on the display of the clock, in the Forerunner 235 unfortunately only on the smartphone after a synchronization.
  • Both heart rate monitors record your sleep. You can see how many minutes you were in a deep sleep and how many minutes you did not have a good night’s sleep. Watching something over a more extended period is nice. So you can improve your sleeping behavior as needed.
  • The goal of how many steps you should take each day is always adjusted by both Forerunners, but can also be changed by yourself. For example, if you get 3,000 steps over your daily goal, you’ll have a little boost on it for the next day.
  • Garmin Connect Insight has been in use in Germany for a few weeks now. This will give you more tips from health professionals on how to burn more calories, how you compare to your peers, and many more motivational tips and study results.
  • Whoever wears the Garmin Forerunner 235 as well as myself during the whole day but also partially at night, is very happy about the DND function. It means do not disturb. Here you can set your “bedtime” in which you no longer want to be bothered by emails, calls, vibration alerts or lighting. Quite similar to the flight mode on a smartphone.

The following bothered us a little:

The fitness tracker of the Forerunner 235 and 735 XT focuses almost exclusively on the steps taken. Even if you have burned 3000 calories by mountain bike by the afternoon by the afternoon, you will still be reminded that you have not reached your daily goal with the steps. Cycling should be added at least a little to the levels.

The Display

The display on display is colored. It is also straightforward to read under strong sunlight. In sports mode, you have five different data pages freely available. On every data page, you can choose what you want to show.

From HF to pace, speed, tempo, run km, and much more. Here you have the Forerunner 235/735 the choice if you want to see only one field on a page or even up to 4 fields. I think that’s very convenient.

In the dark, a bright backlight comes on each press of the button. You can also specify in the settings that the display automatically turns on each forearm. Practical if you often run in the evening. Garmin Connect IQ Shop lets you expand your ads even more. Here you will find countless apps on how you can still pimp up the Garmin Forerunner 235.

Here are just a few examples of other apps:

  • Weather App – Rain probability / Temperature
  • Hiker/hiking – tour planning – altitude
  • Maps – Maps
  • Ski/bike and continue running trackers and many more

Garmin Forerunner – special highlights

The number of ambitious athletes has increased significantly in recent years and is steadily rising. But not everyone runs just for fun, but many want to be able to check their performance based on facts.

Therefore almost all heart rate monitor manufacturers meticulously develop this benefit to the buyer. 

As a special highlight, the two Forerunner pulse watches offer the following physiological measured values:

  •  recreation counselor
  •  training effect
  •  VO2 max value
  •  Heart Rate Zones
  •  running forecast
  •  Start-stop function

You can always read the values for running forecast, recovery guide and VO2max directly from your watch. You can find them under “reading your statistics.” The great and motivating thing about these values is that an increased amount of training over a certain period immediately has a positive effect on these values. You have it almost black on white if you train diligently to get better. Great motivation!

The VO2max

The VO2max value defines the maximum oxygen volume that can be absorbed per minute and kg body weight at maximum power and used by the cells. The higher the cost, the fitter you are. The VO2max is the standard measurement method used to determine a person’s fitness level.

Simply put, the Garmin Forerunner 235 or 735 calculates how to fit you are based on your heart rate, walking pace, heart rate variability, age, weight, height, and gender. In this table, you can then read how fit you are compared to your friend or running partner …

The training effect 

Another great value that I appreciate about the Garmin Forerunner 235 is the training effect called TE for short. The TE-value you get after every sport displayed if you want. Also, of course, you can analyze it under Garmin Connect during each workout.

1 = low

2 = receiving

3 = improving

4 = strongly improving

5 = overloading

The TE value goes from 1-5. This value simply indicates how exhausting this sports unit was for you and what benefits you get for it. The Forerunner 235 calculates the value based on your training history, individual fitness level, duration and intensity of training. On this basis, you get from your Forerunner 235 also suggested how long you should wait the next time you train. This is what Garmin calls the recovery counselor.

Training in the heart rate range

I think a training plan in the right heart rate range can improve the running form again. With the Forerunner 235/735, you can have the heart rate ranges calculated by the Garmin watch, but it’s also straightforward to change manually. The possibility to change it manually I find very good because every athlete wants to train individually. Especially important for interval training.

Depending on whether the fitness improves or worsens, the Garmin Forerunner adjusts the areas. For each completed training you can see in the appropriate training protocol right on the sports watch the times in which heart rate areas for how long was trained.

I find the Garmin Forerunner 235 very positive that the alarm is very good when it exceeds or falls below a certain heart rate. You can set the alarm to audible or vibrate or both. Both are noticeable under running very well.

The run forecast

You are training for a competition and would like to know at which time you will probably finish? No problem with the latest Garmin Forerunner sports watches. Some of the new models, including the Forerunner 235 and 735, will tell you when you expect to finish in a 5km, 10km, half marathon or marathon.

The times are estimated according to Garmin, among other things, because of your V02max value. Because the higher this value, the faster you will probably run in these competitions to the finish. From my experience, these predictions are quite okay and are at least within the limits of the times I could run.

Of course, if you’ve never run a marathon before, you’ll never be able to run the time the Forerunner 235 shows you. But that should be clear to everyone.

The start-stop function

In the Garmin 235, she is also called car break. An interesting feature if, for example, you have to stop at red lights more often. Then the heart rate monitor automatically stops for you. You can turn the Auto Pause feature on or off. If you activate it, then you have two options for adjustment. Stop if you stop – or custom. Here you can set the exact speed from when the Garmin Forerunner 235 falls below the stop.

This start-stop function is beneficial, especially in winter. Because the Forerunner 235/735 has to be worn directly on the skin, in winter there are usually some clothes incl. Gloves over it. Since the operation is not always so easy despite the large buttons. The two Garmin pulse watches announce the car break again very nicely by a vibration and alarm sound. Both when you stop and when you start walking again.

The fact that the Garmin Forerunner 235 or 735 have a very accurate GPS or Glonass signal, the delay is very low. I have experienced much worse with other heart rate monitors. 

Smartwatch features

The Garmin Forerunner 235 and 735 have some useful smartwatch features that you can turn on and off at any time. The following functions support the Garmin Forerunner watches:

  •  SMS messages
  •  Calls
  •  emails
  •  Calendar items
  •  Social media

Also, while running, you can also control your music on your mobile phone. Do not load music directly to the Forerunner 235 WHR. That means you have to have the mobile phone with you when you’re running. Listen directly to music from the heart rate monitor without a mobile phone currently works with the Polar M600 ( review M600 ) and also with the TomTom Spark and TomTom Runner 3 ( review Runner 3 )

My opinion:

If you are looking for a real smartwatch, then the Garmin Forerunner 235 and 735 are wrong. In this area, the new Polar M600 is far superior to the Forerunner watches. But if you just want to have some meaningful Smart Notifications I can recommend the Garmin 235.

That can only the Forerunner 735 XT compared to the 235

The latest heart rate monitor from Garmin is currently the Forerunner 735 XT. It combines many of the good features of the Forerunners 235, 620 and 920 XT. So you can maybe decide for yourself whether you want to spend the extra 100 euros (with chest strap HRM-Tri Premium even almost $200 extra) or not. 

Swimming functions: (can partly also the Forerunner 920 XT)

  • Swimming pool functions (lanes, distance, pace, number of moves/number of trains, calorie consumption)
  • Swimming style identification (e.g., crawl swimming)
  • Open water swimming functions (distance, speed, number of moves/number of trains, calorie consumption)
  • swim training

Running functions: (taken from the Forerunner 620)

Running efficiency for storing the balance of ground contact time, stride length, vertical ratio, and more (works only with the   HRM chest strap )

My Opinion: Whether you need these features is something that can be argued about. For my part, I have quickly thrown in the towel when analyzing this data. Other data is more important to me for my training. Run again without a chest strap.

Triathlon function:

Swimming, cycling and running as a training or competitive unit to analyze. Incl. The change time. Is for athletes who are preparing for a triathlon already very helpful.

The battery power and the GPS signal

There are no big differences between the Forerunner 225 and the 735 XT when it comes to battery life. In sports / GPS mode, the battery in the Forerunner 235 is empty after about 11 hours, in the Forerunner 735 XT only after about 14 hours. That should be enough for most athletes for 2-3 sports units.

Without GPS mode, the Forerunner 225 after about nine days, the Forerunner 735 XT only after about 11 days to be recharged.

These are very decent realistic values. Especially when you consider how easy the two Garmin heart rate monitors are in comparison to the heart rate monitors which achieve better values.


Tip: The Bluetooth setting should then be out!  Otherwise, these values cannot be achieved. Bluetooth eats electricity. Charging takes place using a special clip included in the delivery. Top! The charging time is at the Forerunner 235, connected to the laptop about 2 hours. About the outlet about 90 minutes. For the Forerunner 735 XT only slightly longer.

GPS accuracy

There is not much to report about the GPS signal, except that it is found super fast within a few moments on both Garmin watches. It’s never happened to me in a sports unit. Both the Garmin 235 and the 735 at support GPS as well as the Russian GLONASS. 

You have the choice if you only turn on a navigation system or both in parallel. Using GPS and GLONASS gives you more flexibility. The accuracy of the location is already extremely accurate when combining both positioning systems. 

Conclusion – Garmin Forerunner 235 WHR

Advantages:

 HF measurement on the wrist + GPS – both very accurate and powerful battery! many useful sports settings, well-integrated motivating fitness tracker high-quality artistry, good service helpful support for the essential sports + many apps Garmin Connect – mature platform

Disadvantage:

 GPS altitude measurement is not so accurate underwater, no exact HF measurement Synchronization with cable Top – sometimes (rarely) errors occur via Bluetooth.

The Garmin Forerunner 235 WHR I can recommend to any athlete who stands on the round, colorful look of Garmin. The measured values in my sports activities have been 99% always correct and understandable. Initially, the Forerunner 235 was designed more for runners, but now there are also the bike function and many other sports apps with which I am delighted.

The Garmin 235 has almost everything (and a little more) what I want from the perfect heart rate monitor. And it dispenses with unnecessary functions that cost only battery, weight and money. That’s why this Garmin watch, although I’ve tested more than ten different heart rate monitors, is still my personal favorite. I would repurchase the Forerunner 235.

Sure, the altitude measurement could be a little more accurate and sometimes the synchronization with the phone does not work out for the first time. But I can quickly get over these small inaccuracies. From me gets the Garmin Forerunner 235 for all recreational athletes thanks to the many other apps you can still download and the motivating Activity Tracker a clear buy recommendation!
Garmin Forerunner 235 WHR  (heart rate measurement on the wrist, Smart Notifications)

Conclusion – Garmin Forerunner 735 XT

The Forerunner 735 has some features (like advanced performance analysis and running efficiency values) more than its little brother. Especially for swimmers, this pulse watch of the Forerunner 235 has a lot in advance. But you have to order a chest strap extra, otherwise, you will not be able to use most functions properly.

Therefore, I think the Forerunner 735 is really only for the athletes (triathletes), who they want to invest the additional price of around 200 euros (including the chest strap) and. Nevertheless, some triathletes should be happy because they can do without the chest strap with this Garmin watch for running and cycling.

Garmin Forerunner 735XT High-End  Triathlon Watch with Heart Rate Measurement on the Wrist – Multisport features, advanced performance analysis and running efficiency values

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