An affordable, effective running watch-Garmin Forerunner 35

Watch review

Quick verdict

If you’re looking for entry into the world of running watches, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is a timepiece that perfectly matches the rigors and demands of a special running watch. The fitness tracking is error-free and easy to read and control while running.

For

  • Accurate fitness tracking
  • Strong battery life
  • Reliable heart rate sensor
  • Elegant app with strong data breakdown

Against

  • Basic and boxy design
  • Sleep tracking fooled by removing the watch
  • GPS connection not the fastest

We’ve come to a point where having a fitness tracker is not as easy as taboo, like answering your phone in the quiet carriage of a train or breaking a selfie stick, well, everywhere. Without a bit of barebones wrist technology, how else can you compare footsteps and calories burned as if you were talking about television or the latest box set binge from last night?

A GPS running watch with built-in heart rate monitor, a friend of a fitness fanatic, who also uses some smartwatch smarts with wrist-based notifications and call alerts.

We strapped on the Forerunner 35 and tested it to see if it was an all-around victory or an attempt that went below the score.

Design that’s a little different

  • 35.5 x 40.7 x 13.3mm; 37.3g
  • Available with black, lime, blue or white straps
  • Third-party straps also available

Running watches are not always the best looking parts. They are often oversized and too plastic. The Forerunner 35 falls into only one of these categories: Although it is not very big – he is only 40.7 mm high and 13.3 mm thick – is anything but a high-end kit.

Plastic is king here (whether you like it or not). Whichever of the four different strap options you choose – traditional black and white options are combined with more adventurous light blue and lime green shades – the body of the Forerunner is the same dull black plastic offering.

While the plastic body is great for tucking into the gym bag or for a bit of trail running – unlike devices like the Misfit Phase or the Apple Watch – you will not like to wear it at night. It’s a watch that screams fitness fan and can only mix with your running kit or more casual wear.

It is comfortable and waterproof. Thanks to the rubberized strap and the metal buckle, which can be submerged in up to 50 meters of water without succumbing to watery drops, it can be fitted to your wrist and remains safe and comfortable when you go to work or run a half marathon. It’s also comfortable enough to sleep in, which is convenient given the clock’s built-in sleep-tracking capabilities.

Screen aimed at running first

  • 1.3-inch square screen
  • No colour panel option
  • 128 x 128 pixel resolution

Unfortunately, the clock’s screen does nothing to improve the design. Unlike many high-end running watches, Garmin did not press a touchscreen here. Actually, there is not even a color display. Instead, there is a 1.3-inch monochrome panel with a basic resolution of 128 x 128 pixels. It’s easy and bland.

No, it will not win beauty pageants or match many of your outfits, but it’s a screen that’s detailed enough to get the job done. It’s also easy to see when you’re running – which is important.

Instead of a touch screen, the clock has four physical buttons. These are not very pretty, but work well. The top-left control triggers the backlight of the clock, while the bottom-left button returns you through the menus. On the right side you can make a selection with the upper button while the lower control scrolls through menus and options.

Although the screen of the Forerunner 35 is not the most visually stunning screen, if the monochrome panel fails, it makes it easy to see and read. Whether you’re taking your 10km through the woods at a steady pace or increasing your pace as you hit the sidewalk, the Forerunner screen and software provide a wealth of exciting data.

During a run, when your arms are jumping around, these slightly raised buttons also make browsing through the data screens a breeze.

Features & performance

  • Integrated GPS tracking
  • Built-in heart-rate sensor
  • Wrist-based call and message alerts

The Forerunner 35 is able to capture cycling and cardio work, and is a true running watch at heart. Keep track of your daily movements and count your steps as you run a workout, go to the shops, or just float around in the office trying to avoid work.

If you have been inactive for too long, you will be asked to get up and move. Unlike most watches, simply standing or mixing from the sofa to the refrigerator is not enough to clear the motion bar. This is a watch that will make you fit. As such, you have to make yourself felt by running a minute to clear the bar.

This is just the tip of the activity-tracking iceberg. Get ready for a run, and the Garmin Forerunner 35 will find much more than your steps. The integrated heart rate monitor monitors how your body responds to training – and how fast it recovers – while the integrated GPS maps your route.

Thanks to this integrated GPS, we have found that the clock is accurate in the range measurement. In a well-known 10 km loop, the clock was just right.

Although it is accurate, it is not the fastest signal to secure a signal. Since the watch has no GLONASS capabilities, the GPS needs a good minute for the primer. Put the watch into operating mode and you can go through your preparation legs before they are connected and ready for use. After a signal was secured, we had no problems with the connection during our runs.

The impressive features of the Forerunner 35 are not limited to running tracking. While not as attractive as the Apple Watch, the Garmin has similar intelligent capabilities that bring call and message notifications directly to your wrist.

Although many activity trackers are capable of doing so, the Forerunner 35 not only indicates that you have a text or WhatsApp, but also lets you read the messages directly on your wrist. Yes, the text is large and blocked, but with a few clicks of the “Down” button you can quickly see how urgent a message is or not.

It is not faultless. This entry-level Forerunner not only keeps track of your movements and fitness level, but also monitors your sleep to monitor it around the clock. The problem is that sleep tracking can be done easily. Take the watch off and put it aside to take a shower or even when you go to bed. This lack of exercise is considered sleep and the data is so distorted that it becomes unusable.

Battery life

  • Up to nine days battery life
  • Circa 13 hours GPS-tracking per charge
  • Crocodile clip-style bespoke charger

Unlike gadgets like the Apple Watch Nike + and Moto 360 Sport – watches that need to be charged every day or two – the Garmin Forerunner 35 offers impressive battery life. We’re talking about a week between charges, and that’s when you’re hit hard with GPS-optimized tracking.

Take things a little easier – just a few times a week – and the Forerunner will pass the Weekmarker without charging it. Garmin claims that you could benefit from it nine days before it was connected to the grid, and in our tests it was true.

It’s a good job that the battery life is impressive, because charging the clock is insane. Like most smartwatches, the Forerunner 35 has its own charging station. Unlike the masses, however, this is not a simple, elegant magnetic cradle that hugs the clock tight and cuddly. Instead, Garmin’s effort uses a strange crocodile-clip-style docking station that sits on the side of the clock, making charging while charging a little uncomfortable.

Verdict

If you’re looking for entry into the world of running watches, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is a timepiece that perfectly matches the rigors and demands of a special running watch. The fitness tracking is error-free and easy to read and control while running.

However, it is hard to escape this design. If you want to keep track of your activities around the clock, you need a better kit.

However, if you’re looking for a device that will guide you to the gym or your marathon workouts before you fall into a sports bag, this is a great option. It’s not ridiculously expensive either.

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