Reviews

A lightweight running watch for various types of workout

The Garmin Forerunner 935 is for serious athletes such as ultra-marathon runners and triathletes who do not need the looks, bulk and weight of the flagship Fenix 5.
The Garmin Forerunner 935 is for serious athletes such as ultra-marathon runners and triathletes who do not need the looks, bulk and weight of the flagship Fenix 5.PHOTO: GARMIN

Wearables

The Garmin Forerunner 935 is essentially a GPS running watch that is a toned-down version of Garmin's flagship Fenix 5.

It is for serious athletes such as ultra-marathon runners and triathletes who do not need the looks, bulk and weight of the Fenix 5, but just a lightweight running watch for a multitude of workouts such as running on a treadmill, cycling, hiking and swimming.

While the Fenix 5 is all about looks with its stainless steel case and sapphire glass, the Forerunner 935 is all about practicality. It has a fibre-reinforced polymer case with plain glass to protect its round 1.2-inch (240 x 240 pixels) colour display, also found in the Fenix 5.

The Forerunner 935 - available in black (the version tested) and yellow - looks incredibly plain but sporty. It weighs only 49g and is 13.9mm thick. In contrast, the Fenix 5 weighs 98g and is 15.5mm thick.

With its rubber strap, the Forerunner 935 is really comfortable to wear. And, during workouts, it felt as though I was not wearing it at all. But it is certainly not a watch I would wear to wedding dinners or even to the office.

The Forerunner 935 has all the features found in the Fenix 5, such as a built-in heart-rate monitor, compass, altimeter and barometer. It also doubles as a smartwatch that notifies you of social-media updates, incoming messages and calls when paired with a smartphone.

Since its display is not a touchscreen, you have to navigate the menu interface via buttons.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $749

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth and ANT+

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    WEIGHT: 49g

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

There are three left and two right buttons to control the functions of the watch.

Despite having reviewed many Garmin GPS running watches earlier, I still cannot get used to using the bottom two left buttons for toggling up and down, the bottom right button for back, and the top right Start/Stop button for selecting an option.

The top left button is for the backlight. But you can set the display to light up when you raise your wrist. It should have been a default feature, though, instead of having to set it as such.

On my first run with it, the watch took around a minute to lock onto GPS signals in the streets of my Housing Board estate. On subsequent runs, it took only around 12sec to secure a GPS fix.

Its distance tracking for runs was very accurate on my usual 5km running route, with a difference of only around 10m.

Daily steps readings showed a difference of only 2 per cent when compared with my calibrated Apple Watch Nike+.

The heart-rate readings of the Forerunner 935 differed by around 3 beats per minute, when compared with the readings of my Polar H10 Bluetooth heart-rate monitor chest strap.

The Forerunner 935 will analyse your previous workouts and fitness levels to show if your training has been too easy or too hard. Great to know if you can go back to running the next day, or wait a day or two for your body to recover.

The Forerunner 935 can last for 21hr in GPS mode and up to two weeks in watch mode, according to Garmin. During the review, I found the watch to last for almost 10 days when connected to my iPhone 7 Plus for notifications, during which I took it for three 5km runs.

Its biggest bugbear is its rather steep price of $749. Considering that you can get an Apple Watch Series 2 for as low as $398, you really need to be a triathlete to fully utilise the functions of the Forerunner 935 to justify the purchase.

• Verdict: For triathletes, the Garmin Forerunner 935 will be a great companion for training. For casual runners, this might be an overkill.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2017, with the headline 'A lightweight running watch for various types of workout'. Print Edition | Subscribe