Garmin Forerunner 35 test: don't classify her too fast in the entry level

in 2015, Garmin had approached the home straight to Christmas with a trio of sisters watches shopping: the Forerunner 630 for the running fades, the Forerunner 235 with optical cardio and the slightly less advanced 230 Forerunner.

obviously, Christmas is a crucial moment for the sales of gadgets like GPS watches. This year, Garmin has still relied on its sensor optics, built-in cardio in my series of entry-level GPS watches. The strategic idea is of course to try to reach the largest possible audience by incorporating it into a simple and affordable watch. Because optical cardio, it’s the big demand of the moment. Following the Forerunner 25 (which, despite the ‘5’ from its name has no optical cardio), it is called Forerunner 35.

she became the watch cardio without cheapest belt of the range Garmin GPS (after the Forerunner 235, the Fenix 3 HR, HR Vívoactive, the Forerunner of 735XT and Fenix Chronos). But in fact, do not believe that the Forerunner 35 is an entry-level watch. And this for 2 reasons:

  • it costs € 200 (still).

  • she has, as you can see, a wide range of features, much more than what is expected of a show entry level GPS.

presentation of the Garmin Forerunner 35 presentation-forerunner-35

the Forerunner 35A the allure of a small watch, square with rounded edges. Some might not like the broad framing around the screen. This is a monochromatic screen and Garmin has played a bit on the display modes: white on black and use black on white (usually more readable) use ‘workout’ and ‘Watch’. Unlike color screens, it still perfectly readable in the dark.

buttons seat are folded, slightly recessed in a Groove of the housing, which is they are almost not visually when you look at the watch face. They are 4 and a small symbol on the front indicate their usefulness: back (menu), exercise (OK), low light. And Yes, surprise: there is no ‘up’ button. In practice, it must scroll the menus down to complete and return to the beginning. So sometimes when we miss the line it is intended in a menu, it is a bit tedious having to do all the way around to come back.

the menu consists of several widgets (hour, cardio, notifications, activity tracker, calorie, intensive minutes, last activity, weather), which are all activated/deactivated individually. This is a setting that you can do on Garmin Connect and allows to show only the screens that you use. It’s nice to have this option.

I have already written several times in tests shows Garmin GPS that they are able to make very strong on the weight, but, they have managed to make even harder than usual. On balance, the small displays 37 grams. I.e. 2g less than the Forerunner 25 (which had yet not sensor optical cardio) or 4g less than the Forerunner 220. It’s even 1 g less than the tiny Vívoactive (she also without cardio optical sensor). So it’s safe for this weight, everything is plastic: box, buttons and even tightening of the strap loop.

yet, when we got him on the wrist, it seems quite thick. And for good reason, it measures 13mm thick. To compare, the Vívoactive is 8mm. And even the Forerunner 235, yet in the category above and with her also a cardio optical sensor, made a little less than 12mm thick.

but this thickness is used wisely for the battery. A battery that gives 13 hours of recording GPS + cardio. I was going to say it’s a good performance, but it’s even better than the Forerunner 235 (11 h).

the bracelet is completely new. It is streaked on top (I tested the green/yellow version, I don’t know if they are all textured similarly). It is especially much more elastic than usual bracelets. I think that the idea of Garmin is to improve comfort, you shake a little more the bracelet for good dump the sensor against the skin (I remind you that work well, to place the sensor cardio behind the bones of the wrist and well plated against the skin).

in fact, it’s the sensor cardio Elevate of Garmin. But if you look closely, you realize that this is not the same as on my Fenix 3 HR . But not to worry! It is the same as on the Fenix Chronos and the Forerunner 735XT, more recent than the Fenix 3 HR. It seems that Garmin has changed my cardio sensor released in 2015 on the Forerunner 235. The Forerunner 35 is still compatible with a belt cardio ANT + if you experience the usefulness for split sessions for example. And conversely, it can be used as sensor optical cardio for another device. You can activate the data dissemination cardio by ANT + to another ANT + (another watch or a bicycle for example meter).

its categorization in entry level explains the absence of altimeter, but does not have the deadlock on vibration alerts, or tightness (50 m), which allows you to swim without problem with. Wireless by Bluetooth is also included, a classic now on Garmin watches.

run forerunner-35-course-pied

before leaving, you can customize the display of the data on each sport profile, either from the watch from Garmin Connect. We can go up to 4 pages showing 1, 2 or 3 data (presented superimposed to the other). And the choice for each field is wide: time, distance, pace/speed, calories, heart rate, area cardio, lap time, distance to turn, look in the round, look average and cadence. Garmin then added a fifth page displaying the time. It is a good idea. Personally, I always create a last screen that displays the time (to know when to go or how much time have left me before sunset on trips long). Ben, it’s not worth, this form already exists.

despite its label ‘entry level’, she has a nice range of features for running: Auto-pause, auto tours, virtual pacer, alarms (time, distance, and heart rate), training in split, walk/run mode. The accelerometer is even used to calculate cadence (not minute number), which is rare in this price range. And if needed, you can pair it with a footpod.

the split view is very complete. You can set the work (in time or distance) interval, the interval between recovery (in time or distance), the number of series, a warm-up and a return to calm at the end.

what I find interesting, is the versatility it offers to the Forerunner 35 through all stages of progression of training. From beginners who will make my first session alternating race and walk to the rider who will prepare for a race with sessions split, allure and cardio sessions sessions. All this to get him to set a lap time on the 5 k to the marathon race. And besides, it will record your personal records (great for motivation).

I found the GPS fix (the time of attachment of the GPS signal when you start an activity) a bit longer than what I’m used to. It is of the order of 10 seconds. It’s still acceptable, but some GPS watches hang regularly in 3 seconds (OK, they are more expensive).

on the activities widget, it is possible to see a fairly comprehensive log of recent sessions. It allows to be less dependent on Garmin Connect. You can quickly view statistics of the recorded activities (time, distance, speed, cardio, cadence, etc). You can also view her personal bests (best km best 5km, best 10km, long distance, etc).

other sports forerunner-35-montre-gps

the Forerunner 35 is oriented for running, but it still has 5 sport profiles that will allow you to differentiate your activities when you save them: outdoors, race in the room (without GPS and using the internal accelerometer), biking, cardio (a mode without GPS that serves a bit to all cardio in gym sports) and works. That’s all. Yes, there are still a few through Garmin, which tends to curb the software of its watches to categorize its products. In comparison, the Polar M200, yet less expensive (€150) gives access to the entire list of 80 Polar Flow profiles.

is not a multi-sport watch, the options are limited. Can’t in any case record swim session, even if the watch is waterproof. With the bike profile, we can replace posted itGE of the speed by the speed and pair a cadence/speed sensor, a type of accessory rarely supported by entry-level GPS watches. However, there is no profile spin class, to use a home trainer. In a pinch, we can use the ‘cardio’ profile.

profile market will hike and enjoy in full the 13 hours of battery life.

the cardio profile will be used for all sports in the room other than the treadmill. The risk is to mix things up if practice you several types of indoor sports, without being able to differentiate between strength training sessions, rower, Zumba, circuit training, etc.

Precision GPS / cardio

the good point is the frequency of recording GPS positions. It seems that Garmin has abandoned the ‘smart’ mode, which allowed to save battery on small watches with a variable record interval, between 1 and 7-8 s. Here, the GPX files confirm that it records a position every second, which allows to have a better accuracy of the traces.

her Foreunner 35 is accurate in open ground, the corners are clean and not planed. But this GPS accuracy is reduced in the forest. Here, we see differences of the trace on the sides (there are 8 passes on the trail below).

forerunner-35-8-aller-retour What surprised me (in the good sense of the term), she comes to hang up quickly as soon as we get out cutlery. Below, clearly purple ramble track 2 in the 2 passages under the trees, and then quickly return just out.

forerunner-35-precision-gps to the cardio level, we find traditional weak points of optics. It generally works well, even compared to a Fenix 3 with heart rate belt, but it can sometimes go into a spin during a period of a few minutes. If you look at the average rate that each session, the gap with a belt cardio than ever 4 beats per minute.

on the other hand, especially when it’s cold and often initially, there may be big differences in more or less.

forerunner-35-cardio-1 but when well placed the sensor, that we don’t tinker it all the time, there are traces that overlap with those obtained with a heart rate belt.

forerunner-35-cardio-3 wholesale, if you instead of endurance, no problem. He began to have difficulty on sessions at high intensity, particularly in split. And it can tell almost anything if you play a sport which involves shake something (rowing, cycling, tennis). In these uses, the combination of vibrations, hand movements, muscles of the wrist bandaged very difficult analysis of weak reflected light changes by the layer of the skin.

Activity Tracker forerunner-35-tracker-dactivite

includes the activity of the Forerunner 35 tracking the number of steps, distance, calories, active minutes, heart rate and sleep. It’s been awhile already tracking daily activity of Garmin is to the point. As well on the side of the algorithms on the watch on the pages of presentation of data on the Garmin Connect app.

there are so many ways to measure your daily physical activity: either by a fixed goal (say 10,000 steps per day), either by a self-adapting goal (Garmin Connect increases / decreases slightly your goal the next day every time you reach / or not your goal), either by a number of minutes of cardiac intensity per week (default 150).

on the watch, a specific widget is used to track the cardio. And it gives the same information as on the Fenix 3 HR: Instant heart rate, resting heart rate, heart rate maximum, graphic tracking on the last 4 hours. These data can be a bit approximate, because usually not wearing my watch all day pretty tight before each measurement is very precise. This is the amount of data and the evolution in time which is interesting. So, after a few days of use, we can say that max frequency and resting rate values will be reliable. And they can then be used to refine the areas of cardio training.

all this data can be found with a graphic tracking long-term on Garmin Connect (web site or app). But they are also available directly on the watch, with a history of the last 8 days.

smart notifications forerunner-35-smart-notifications

once connected Bluetooth to your smartphone, the range of connected functions is fairly broad, as on all recent Garmin GPS watches. The Forerunner 35 can receive notifications for incoming calls, SMS and a whole bunch of applications like WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter.

the weather widget seemed very interesting to me, as rare on a watch of this price range (we think it’s rather on the outdoor GPS watches much more expensive). But I found it quite fickle, often waiting for data, even after several synchronizations. Anyway, before going to out run or roll, you will more quickly consult your app favorite on your smartphone visit the weather widget.

Garmin has also integrated a function ‘recover my phone’. I’ve never found it useful, but if you’re more distracted than me, you never know.

on the other hand, even if it’s a whole new watch, it is not compatible with the Garmin platform Connect IQ , which allows to download applications and to add features to the watch.

every day watch

the Forerunner 35 has a design sufficiently sober (depending on the color of the bracelet, because yellow can be a bit flashy) to be worn as everyday watch.

the screen is legible in all circumstances. In fact, after having tested several GPS watches on display difficult to read due to lack of brightness color, I find a small pleasure to the black & white screen. Overnight, the button on the top left turns the backlight. It works well, is quite uniform, but you can not adjust its intensity.

it is possible to set an alarm to wake up directly from the watch. And you can change the appearance of the screen (watch), either analog (with needle), is digital.

conclusion forerunner-35-garmin-connect

in the end, I found this small very successful shows. She called the Vívoactive, which I loved the design. This design that has not been included on the HR Vívoactive (with optical cardio) that I find quite ugly. So apart from the fact that the Forerunner 35 isn’t multi-sport, it’s more that I would have liked the Vívoactive HR looks like.

the majority of presentations that can be read from the Forerunner 35 classify it as the new entry-level Garmin. Do not be mistaken. It’s the cheapest Garmin with a cardio optical sensor. But this isn’t an entry level GPS watch! By its price, or its features.

Forerunnrer 35 came at the price of €200. Compared to the € 130 25 Forerunner, makes €70 the cardio sensor. If you want a watch cardio GPS without really cheap belt, look rather on the side of the Polar M200 or the TomTom Runner 2 (without music).

but as I tried to make it stand out in this article to test, the Forerunner 35 still has a range of features that make it outperforms any GPS to entry-level watch. In fact, she comes to place between the 25 Forerunner and the Forerunner 235. A kind of intermediate place. The advantage, if you’re new to running, for example, is that the Forerunner 35 will accompany you throughout your progress. You won’t need to change shows in 1 year because you have progressed and you want more features.

but suddenly, the issue of the budget is re-exposure. Since its release in October, 2015, the price of the Forerunner 235 went from 350 to 270. For € 70 more, she brings even more opportunities for training (Advanced workouts, estimated VO2max, recovery, training calendar) and customization (watchfaces, Connect IQ).

Finally, the other competitor of the Forerunner 35 might be Vívoactive HR , which the price just below €200 (270 to its release) and which allows a MultiSport use which includes swimming (in the pool), a barometric altimeter, and various possibilities with the apps Connect IQ.

you found this useful test? You want to buy a Forerunner 35?

I hope you found this article useful. I’m a sportsman like you who seeks to have as many details as possible before buying new hardware of spo


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