Fitness trackers continue to reach new heights in popularity. Today’s fitness-crazed world seems to be consumed with how to be in better health. One of the results of this has been the increase in fitness trackers and in everyone wanting to have their own. Garmin has made their own line of fitness trackers that are also smart watches. The two most popular mid-range Forerunners are the 235 and the 630, which actually replaced the previous 230.
There are many different reasons that each one of these fitness trackers has a slight edge about the other. However, my personal recommendation is the Garmin Forerunner 630 unless you are dead set on having a device that has a heart monitor in which case I would recommend the Garmin Forerunner 235 to you. You can keep reading for a full review and full comparisons about each of these devices.
Garmin Forerunner 235 vs 630 Overview
They are similar in look and design as well. There are many differences that you should be aware of and if you keep reading, you can find out all of the details so that you can choose the one that is going to best work for you. This will allow you to discover which has a better design, better features, and which is able to better track your fitness.
A Little About Garmin
In 1989 Garmin was founded in Lenexa, Kansas by Gary Burrell and Min H. Kao. The company was not initially called Garmin. Instead, it was started as ProNav. Their first product was actually a GPS device that sold at $2500. Later the company was renamed Garmin and in 1991, they started working with the United States Army. By 1995 Garmin was able to reach sales of more than $100 million and had a profit of more than $23 million. In just a few more years, in 1999, they were making a profit of more than $64 million.
It was in 2000 when sales were peaking for Garmin and they had sold more than three million GPS systems at this time. They actually had 50 different models and products were sold in more than one hundred different countries. On December 8, 2000, they became a publicly traded company. The company has continued with additional products and eventually launched its own fitness trackers as the popularity continued to grow.
Garmin Forerunner 235
The Garmin Forerunner 235 has a classic design that looks like a wristwatch. It even features a round watch face. The fitness tracker comes with a silicone wristband, but there are many different wristband upgrades that you can choose from. This allows users to swap out the band for their personal preferred style.
Bands and Colors
There are actually three different color combinations which are available with the Garmin Forerunner 235. This is available in black and gray, marsala (a deep red that has black accents), and frost blue (a pale green/blue that has black accents). The bands are standard and match the color scheme. They have rows of five holes which helps to make the band fit any size wrist well.
The Garmin Forerunner 235 offers you a large range of different accessories to choose from. You are even able to interchange these bands with the 630 bands since they are the same size, which offers you some additional options.
The display size of the Forerunner 235 is 215 x 180 pixels. The LCD display features special transflective memory in pixel or MIP technology. This allows you to easily see the screen in even the brightest sunlight. It features a full-color LCD screen. The glass is chemically strengthened so that you are able to be active without fear of breaking it. The 235 does not feature a touch screen.
Overall the design of the Garmin Forerunner 235 is pretty much the same as the design for the Garmin Forerunner 630. There are not many differences, except that the 630 features a touch screen and the 235 does not.
The Garmin Forerunner 235 offers a heart rate monitor. This allows the user to track their heart rate with their activities and keeps those who want to be in the fat burning mode in that mode. However, there are additional heart rate accessories that can be purchased which can enhance the heart rate monitor and experience for the user.
One of the things that are nice with the built-in heart tracker is that it offers the user the chance to actually have 24/7 heart monitoring. Most users do not want to wear a chest strap that long so it really allows for better heart monitoring that what the user would otherwise get.
There are a number of daily activity tracking features built into the Garmin Forerunner 235. You will be able to track your daily activity, calories burned, and step count. The fitness watch has eighteen different features that help with training, planning, and analyzing your activity.
There are six additional features that are used to provide statistics and information about your running. Plus, there are three features for cycling. This is a good beginning fitness tracker as it helps you to accomplish the basics with whatever activity you are involved in.
The fitness tracker does not track swimming, which is a bit of a disappointment. However, it does have basic waterproofing and can be worn in the pool, shower, or bath. You can track the distance traveled while you swim. There is a built-in GPS sensor too. The sensor is remarkably accurate and there is a satellite system called Glonass that will be able to locate your positioning if your GPS should not be working. It is a great thing to have a backup satellite at your disposable in case something should happen to you.
While this fitness tracker was likely built with the outdoors in mind, that does not mean that it is not a good choice for indoor fitness tracking. In fact, you will find that it allows the user to be able to exercise and track their indoor activity as well as that activity that they are participating in outdoors.
The Garmin Forerunner 235 has all of the basic features that you need. However, there are no special perks, bells, and whistles for the user. So, it has the basics of everything that you would expect from a fitness tracker, just none of the additional things that you might see on other units.
Notifications and Smart Features
The Garmin Forerunner 235is able to be paired with your favorite smartphone. This allows you to track your fitness statistics easily and to always have them available to you.
In addition, the tracker features the Garmin Connect IQ system which allows you to customize the data fields, apps, watch faces, and widgets. This allows you to have a calendar and even to see what the weather is going to be like from the convenience of your watch. All of these features can be downloaded to the device.
In addition, when you are paired with the Garmin Connect Mobile app on your smartphone, you will find that the unit easily syncs and uploads your data. This allows you to review your information, benchmark successes, and always keep a record of exactly what you are doing. For weight loss, this can be crucial to figuring out why you might lose more weight one month than another.
There are up to 200 hours of memory that can be stored on the smartwatch itself. This is quite a bit more memory when you start comparing the Garmin Forerunner 235 to other brands of fitness trackers.
For the basics, you can actually control your music on an iOS or Android device. It has notifications and even gets text messages on the screen. You can see who is calling you, who has sent you texts, your calendar events, and even recent emails all from your smartwatch. The watch will help you to practice while you are avoiding your phone but also helps you to see if you are missing important messages.
One of the things that users of the Garmin Forerunner 235 have not been as impressed with is the battery life. In fact, the battery life on the 235 is significantly less than the 630 because the heart monitor uses a significant amount of power. The heart monitor relies on a heart rate sensor and uses the Garmin Elevate heart sensor system which uses a lot of power when it is in constant use.
The unit uses the battery quicker in both of the modes, active GPS and passive smartwatch. If you are using the fitness tracker in the GPS mode you can get about eleven hours of active battery life. However, if you are using it in the passive mode, you will be able to get about nine days of battery life from a full charge.
Garmin Forerunner 235 Basic Features
- The Garmin Forerunner 235 retails for $249.95, but you can find it for a bit less from some retailers. Currently, it is only $219.95 on Amazon.
- The device features a GPS.
- It is waterproof.
- It has a battery that lasts 11 hours in GPS mode.
- The battery lasts 9 days in smartwatch mode.
- The unit can track daily fitness monitoring.
- It is compatible with Windows, Osx, iOS, and Android.
- It offers Bluetooth connectivity.
- There is a cellular chip in the device.
- The Garmin Forerunner 235 features live tracking.
- You can receive phone notifications on the device.
- It has a USB connection.
- It is made for cycling.
- The unit has both cadence and speed sensors.
- It will measure the calories that you are burning daily.
- It allows for heart rate monitoring through the device or with additional heart rate monitoring accessories.
- The unit offers sleep tracking where it not only tracks the amount of time that you are sleeping, but also the quality of sleep that you are getting.
- It has a built-in step counter.
- It is made for running.
- It offers a VO2 estimation for runners to better understand their running habits.
- The sensor offers both ant plus speed.
- It has an optical heart rate sensor.
Garmin Forerunner 630
The Garmin Forerunner 630 has a very similar design to the 235 model. In fact, some users have a hard time telling the two models apart without looking at the bands.
You will receive the Garmin Forerunner 630 with a silicone watch band, but you can purchase additional bands that offer everything that you could want. This allows for each wearing to have a design that fits their personal needs. The watch face is round and the overall style looks like a traditional wristwatch.
Bands and Colors
The Garmin Forerunner 630 only comes in two different color combinations. There is black and white and black, midnight blue, and white. The bands of these match like the bands of the 235 do. They also have several holes, but there are not as many holes as what the 235 offers. This band is more like a traditional sports watch band and is not very unique, but instead is like the sports watch that you might have owned in the 1990s.
There is a large number of available accessories for the Garmin Forerunner 630. You can purchase bands that are available for the 235 as well since the two have the same band size.
The Garmin Forerunner 630 features a special memory in pixel design that allows for you to be able to view the screen in the direct sunlight. The screen is 215 pixels x 180 pixels in size.
The screen is a full-color LCD screen. One of the things that give the 630 a bit of an edge over the 235 is that it features a touch screen. This touch screen allows the user to be able to navigate through the menu easily on their own.
The screen is made from chemically strengthened glass. There is a wide range of different features that you can use and adjustments that you can make while using the touch screen which allows for you to change things up quickly. With the 235 you have to take extra steps to do these things which often makes it more difficult and requires the user to take extra steps that they do not have to take with the 235.
The Garmin Forerunner 630 is designed very similarly to the 235 model. However, the 630 does allow for some additional features with the touch screen. This one simple added feature really sets the 630 aside and allows for the user to have more options when using the watch.
The Garmin Forerunner 630 has a number of amazing features in its fitness tracking, but it lacks the built-in heart rate monitor that other fitness tracking units share. Of course, it works with Garmin’s other heart rate monitor accessories, like the chest strap, but it does not offer the 24/7 heart monitoring that you would get with a built-in heart rate monitor.
The monitor does offer great features for activity tracking, calories burned, and step counts. It has a lot of advanced features that you do not see on other fitness watches. In fact, there are a lot of different features that making training a breeze with this fitness watch. The Garmin Forerunner 630 has over twenty-three different training, analysis, and planning features built into the regular activity settings. It has twelve different features that are specific to runners. Plus, it has nine additional features for cyclists.
The watch allows you to be active in the water as well without having to remove it. It offers five-atmosphere capability which allows you to wear it while you swim, take a bath, or a shower. However, there are no special features that will track your swimming activity except for the generic distance tracker. Now, you should also know that the Garmin Forerunner 630 features accurate GPS sensors which allow for the user to be more freely active. In addition, the tracker has Glonass which is a satellite that continues to track you if the GPS should stop working.
While the main features would lead you to believe that the watch was built with the idea of using it for outdoor activity, there are still plenty of features that you will love if you are doing indoor activities. This means that it is a versatile fitness tracker and one that can be used for pretty much any different type of activity.
The Garmin Forerunner 630 has a lot of features. It has everything that you would expect from a fitness tracker with all of the features that you have probably come to expect if you have ever worn or even looked at a fitness tracker before. One of the additional features that I have is the Lactate Threshold.
Now, most people have not heard of the Lactate Threshold before, but we are going to share a little bit about this feature. This is something that is used to measure how much increase in performance and efficiency an athlete can have. While the unit is missing that built-in heart rate monitor, it measures the body’s stress level on a scale from one to one hundred. This can help you with a number of things.
The fitness tracker actually helps to suggest the best times to exercise and be involved in activity based n the stress level on your body. This is a huge feature that is not seen on many units and something that will continue to help with athletes who want to be on the top of their game.
In addition to this special feature, Garmin has added a special Virtual partner to the tracker. This allows you to measure up how you are training when you compare yourself to other athletes that are in the system. This can keep score and will constantly update your stats so that you can have competitions to get yourself training your hardest. There is even a built-in Metronome where you can program a BPM that is desirable and the watch unit will keep the rhythm for you.
Notifications and Smart Features
The Garmin Forerunner 630 has a long list of smart features and notifications that make it convenient to use a smartwatch. You can connect to the Garmin Connect IQ system that allows you to change the faces on the watch, the widgets, data fields, and apps. There are basic apps available that are things like the weather and the calendar. These will allow you to track multiple aspects of your life while you are using the smartwatch.
In addition, you will find that the Garmin Connect Mobile app is a great one to help you sync the two units together. You can even upload data for review, keep track of any additional things that you want to monitor, and benchmark your progress so you can see how far you have come. You will be able to plan your most advanced training, download courses and workouts and get all of that with the smartwatch.
It features the ability to hold 200 hours of memory in the watch itself. This is a lot more memory than other comparable brands on the market. Plus, you will never miss an important call, email, or text if you are watching what comes in on your Forerunner 630. This means that you can push yourself with your workouts, never stopping to look at your phone because everything is available at your fingertips so that you can keep pushing.
The battery life on the Garmin Forerunner 630 is impressive when compared to the 235 model. In fact, you can get up to sixteen hours of battery in the active GPS mode. In the passive smartwatch mode, you can actually get up to twenty-eight days of charge from a fully charged battery. The reason that the battery lasts so much longer is that there is a lot less consumption than what you see with other models. The battery life of this unit is significantly longer than nearly all smartwatches and fitness trackers that are on the market today.
Garmin Forerunner 630 Basic Features
- The Garmin Forerunner 630 retails for $399.99, but you can find it for less like the current price of $281.95 on Amazon.
- It features a GPS tracking option.
- The unit is waterproof.
- It has a nice battery life, in fact, one of the highest out of all fitness trackers available.
- It will last up to 16 hours when in GPS tracking mode.
- The unit lasts up to 28 days when in passive mode.
- It has daily fitness monitoring features.
- The unit is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
- It features Bluetooth connections.
- There is a cellular chip in the Garmin Forerunner 630.
- There is live tracking.
- You can access your phone notifications through the device.
- There is a USB port.
- It is made for cycling.
- You can track your speed and cadence when cycling.
- The unit allows you to track your daily calories.
- While the Garmin Forerunner 630 does not have its own heart monitor, you can use other heart monitor accessories from Garmin to have a heart monitor in the device.
- It will track your sleep, both the amount of sleep that you are getting and the quality of your sleep.
- It features a touchscreen which users love.
- The fitness tracker is made for running.
- It helps runners with running dynamics.
- It also features the VO2 estimation while running.
- The ant plus speed sensor will keep you on track.
- It has a working compass.
Tips to Find the Perfect Fitness Tracker
One of the first things that people look for when they want to become healthier is a way to track their activity levels. If you are looking for something that is going to allow you to have everything at your fingertips to monitor your health, then you probably want to find a good fitness tracker that is going to meet your personal needs.
There are so many different devices and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. In fact, with so many on the market today it can overwhelm the user who is trying to determine which fitness tracker is going to meet their needs.
The first thing that you will need to do when you are deciding what fitness tracker is going to work best for you is to think about the needs that you have. You want to know what type of activities you want the unit to track and what features are necessary for that.
You will also want to know if you are looking for something that is going to offer more, like a heart rate monitor, or something that you are not going to have to charge too often. When you decide which of these works best for you, you will be on your way to determining what is right.
Every fitness tracker that you look at is going to have some of the same features. They pretty much all count the steps that you are taking and help you to determine how many calories you are burning daily. This is important so that you are able to honestly evaluate your lifestyle and understand why you are a success or why you are not successful.
A Look at Fitness Tracker Basics
One of the things that you will first want to check out with any fitness tracker is how well the device will fit on your wrist and what its ability to measure activities is. This allows you to use the device and see what is going to be a good fit for you. Don’t worry though if the tracker does not fit well on your wrist. You can purchase smaller and larger wrist bands with the Garmin Forerunner line, so there is sure to be one that will offer you the right fit.
Another thing that you might want to consider is the weight of the tracker and how comfortable of a fit it features. This is nice for those who are looking for a tracker that is going to be comfortable for long runs. Some trackers on the market are bulky and ill-fitting or weigh a lot and can be bothersome on longer runs or hikes. Plus, if you are a biker or a climber, you will want to make sure that your device is not going to get in the way when you want to use your hands or arms.
Specs and Details of Fitness Trackers
The next thing that you will want to think about is the most advanced feature sand specs that you want your fitness tracker to have. Do you want something that offers to the programme and will help give you rhythm while running or do you want something that is just going to count your steps? Do you want a touchscreen (like that which is available on the Garmin Forerunner 630) so you can easily change things while you are running or working out or do you want something that is simply where a touchscreen would not matter?
Another thing to think about is if you are trying to get in shape because you are worried about your cardiovascular health, then you might want to have a fitness tracker that will track your heart rate like the Garmin Forerunner 235. In addition, you will want to look at waterproofing if you plan on wearing your fitness device in the pool, shower, or bath. This is important for those who are involved in all types of sports and who do not want to have to remember to stop and take off their tracker before hitting the pool.
In addition to this, you will want to determine if sleep tracking is important to you. Almost all fitness trackers offer some level of sleep tracking. However, there are those which also offer you a great look at your sleep including a look at the overall sleep quality. Then you have fitness trackers that feature a GPS which is nice if you are a trail runner or hiker. However, if you are just running at the gym then this is a feature that you are probably not going to need.
There are many final considerations that you will want to make to ensure that you are able to have a great fitness tracker. One of these is to ensure that you have the features that you need and to ignore the ones that you do not. While you might think that a feature sounds neat, it is pointless to invest additional money into a tracker that has features that you will never use. Be realistic with your goals and what you want your fitness tracker to offer you. Once you make your choice, you will be on that path to a better lifestyle and a healthier you.
When it comes to different features, you are probably overwhelmed with our list trying to decide which tracker is best. The Garmin Forerunner 630 has a better design based on the fact that you have the popular touchscreen. Many of the people who have worn both of these watches believe that the touchscreen is a superior design.
The Garmin Forerunner 235 has the added heart rate monitor which is a bonus for those who are hoping to ensure that they are able to have solid tracking of their heart rate. However, the Forerunner 630 did have additional features and settings that were not available with the 235. Some of these included additional tracking and apps.
The Garmin Forerunner 630 was our overall pick for the features that it offered that the 235 did not have. Although we do wish that the 630 had the heart rate monitor included. However, here is a quick look at the features that helped us make our decision.
The Garmin Forerunner 630 has a touchscreen, compass, almost unheard of passive battery life, configure lap alerts, a virtual partner, race and activity modes, course guidance, Strava features, HRV stress test, twelve different running features (which is double that of the 235), and a vertical oscillation and ratio. All of these features stacked up nicely for our needs and we really loved having the fitness tracker and continue to reach for it on a daily basis. Happy running!