The sheer variety of data, balanced by sufficient smartwatch connectivity and so rich in potential through the compatible sensors and accessories, makes it difficult to compete with the Garmin Forerunner 935.
- Great to wear
- Refined UI
- Vast array of data
- Easily expandable ecosystem
- No onboard music support
- No Garmin Pay
The top model of Garmin Forerunner has always been something of a chunky monkey dating back to the intoxicating days of Forerunner 101 in 2003. It was not until 2013 with the Forerunner 220 that things began to look slender. But even then the 2014 Forerunner 920XT was a pretty big flagship.
This leads us to the Forerunner 935, which effectively replaces the 920XT at the top of the Forerunner line and despite the XT branding is still a fully equipped multisport device.
Designed and built for daily wear
- 47 x 47 x 13.9mm; 49g
- Plastic body and strap
- 22mm silicone band
- 5 ATM waterproofing
This is the perfect condition to discuss the design of the Forerunner 935 compared to other Forerunner products where the biggest shift is for this device. The influence of the parallel Fenix family can be clearly seen here, since the 935 is more like a clock and less like the blob the 920XT had.
It’s also clearly due to the 735XT and the lower rungs of the Forerunner devices – though the quality of the 935 looks and feels a bit better. It’s a naturally wearable watch, as Garmin (and the industry really) has focused on monitoring sports performance to monitor the entire day. The 935 is something we always like to wear. You could not say that about his predecessor.
The Forerunner 935 has a plastic body. This is an area where it differs from the Fenix 5. Here, materials such as stainless steel are used to further enhance protection. The 935 is waterproof up to 5 ATM, so it will be satisfied with your water sports and therefore packed with swimming features.
Overall, we like the design. It’s an obvious improvement over the closest model in the series – the Forerunner 735XT – but it’s quite large, making it a bit large for those of smaller size.
Full set of functions and hardware
- Wrist-based heart-rate monitor (HRM)
- 1.2-inch colour display, 240 x 240 pixel resolution
- GPS, Altimeter, Compass, Gyroscope, Thermometer
Tuned to the details, it’s the hardware that really sets one Garmin device apart from the next. And the hardware area determines the features supported by this device. Essentially, the Forerunner 935 does almost everything Garmin offers. The only features that are missing are Garmin Pay and offline music support provided by the new Forerunner 645 Music.
GPS and wrist-based heart rate monitoring (as well as compatibility with Garmin chest harnesses, if you prefer) provides the basics for activity monitoring, but with these extra sensors you get much more data. Compared to the 735XT, the barometric altimeter, gyroscope and thermometer provide additional hardware features.
Of these, it’s probably the altimeter that is likely to provide the most interesting data, as it allows for 3D distance and speed, accurate elevation changes, and finding stairs every day (if you mind). For cyclists or mountaineers the difference in height is even more useful than the one that only runs on the plane. You have the option to turn the 3D distance on or off according to your preferences.
There is also Wi-Fi in this clock, which allows you to sync with Garmin Connect (the associated platform and app that can store and track your data in a friendly, visual way) over a Wi-Fi-enabled wireless network – although we do this, presumably many are satisfied with the direct Bluetooth connection to their device.
In addition to the sensors integrated into the clock, external sensors are also fully supported. We’ve mentioned heart rate chest straps and the 935 paired with an old belt (one of a Forerunner 610) for use on the bike and a Garmin cadence / speed sensor (we’re not sure where this sensor comes from) – it’s been sitting Years in a bicycle spare part box, but had no problems with entering this data).
This is an inherent advantage of the Garmin ecosystem. The ability to use existing sensors, or the option to buy new sensors as your needs change, makes the Forerunner exceptionally flexible – though not limited to this 935 model.
For all these data, it is the packaging, the processing and the presentation that determine the functional scope. Firstly, you have support for a wide range of sports, including the usual sports – running, swimming, cycling – through the combinations – triathlon, duathlon, brick – and the more obscure skydiving (HAHO, HALO and static line). an allusion to Garmin’s popularity with military types – all are supported.
There’s even a tactical mode that gives you long / lat coordinates and route tracking in your normal image collection. We assume that if you are not tactical, you may find it useful as a guide.
Full support is also available for golf, with digital scorecards, yardage and stat tracking and TruSwing compatibility (Garmin’s golf sensor accessory). We have not tested the golf features, but this is another area that sets the 935 apart from other forerunners – considering that Garmin also has the Approach devices for golf.
There is full 24/7 activity tracking, hibernation monitoring and active heart rate during the day, your steps and even sleep. Ad hoc activities that you may not specifically record are also monitored using Move IQ. This automatically detects the type of activity. If you look at a summary of your day, you can see what you have done, whether you are cycling on the ward or walking the dog. This feature is not foolproof: Move IQ informed us that we had a bath in the afternoon, which we did not do.
In addition, the true charm of the Forerunner 935 is the performance and training status metrics, which make it a tool for many and provide a wealth of information.
Stellar battery life
- 24-hour tracking
- 2-weeks as a smartwatch
The biggest failure of so-called smart watches is the life of the battery. Take, for example, the Apple Watch: If you’ve got two days off, you’ve done well. Let’s just say, the Forerunner 935 is laughing at the smart watches out there, easily surpassing the longevity of Apple or Android / Wear OS. Sure, the ad is very different and there is nothing comparable to the app compatibility you will find on these smart gadgets, but on average the Forerunner 935 lasts about two weeks.
This varies by tracking, as the GPS and HRM features naturally drain the battery faster. However, it’s good for 24 hours of uninterrupted tracking, so you’ll be guided by an Ironman, which other devices just will not do.
There is also an UltraTrac mode that lasts for 50 to 60 hours. It’s less accurate, less measurements are taken, but that brings you to the end of a multi-day event and still delivers results.
The Forerunner 935 is charged via the new Garmin plug-in charger, which connects to the back of the watch. We prefer this to the crocodile clips (or magnetic chargers) of earlier devices because they stay in place and are free of excitement.
Garmin user interface and Garmin Connect
- Slick user interface
- Easy syncing with your smartphone
With so much supply, it’s easy to see how functions on a watch can be lost. In the 935, there was some work to improve the user interface over the Forerunner 735XT: it’s organized more logically, resulting in a smoother experience combined with a higher resolution display that looks better.
Everything on the 935 is customizable, from the screens you receive during activities to the amount of data it contains. If you want to change the fields, this is easy, and you can also make changes during activities.
Outside of sporting activities, you can change the screens that you view in monitor mode. Again, there are many options. The smartphone connection (not just to sync data) lets you view your calendar, notifications, music controls, and more on the clock. You can also download and create custom dials.
For those who enjoy using Strava, integrating with Garmin Connect is great. There is even the option to display Strava Suffer Score as a screen.
LiveTrack offers the option to send a link to friends / relatives / your social network so that others can track your route and performance. Not only is this the place you are currently in, it gives you other details like your heart rate. However, this requires a phone in tow, making it less appealing to runners. However, if you are traveling a long way, it is very convenient for anyone who asks when you might come home.
In many ways, the Forerunner 935 can run so many smartwatches. While it does not offer the same app support, it does cover the basics without the terrible battery life that smartwatches suffer.
Garmin Connect Mobile manages the experience on your smartphone with seamless sync to the app and the cloud. We’ve already mentioned a lot about Garmin Connect, but with this app you can really browse your stats, see how active you have been, what training programs you’ve planned, or examine things like your heart rate data in more detail.
Garmin Connect is the same app for all users, whether you have a Vivofit activity band or an Edge bike computer. The presentation has become more lifestyle in recent years to defend against Fitbit and the entry into fitness. In the current version it is indeed very useful and important that the synchronization is fast and the connection is stable. This was a hurdle for TomTom and Suunto – Garmin certainly feels one step ahead.
However, it’s worth noting that Garmin Connect Mobile needs to sync to the cloud to get data. So if you do not have a good connection to the outside world, the synchronization will be significantly affected.
Garmin Forerunner 935 negatives
The only downside to the Forerunner 935 is that it does not support native music, but only provides control over music on your phone. This is a disadvantage compared to devices like the TomTom Adventurer or the Apple Watch 3, which allow you to take your music with you on the go and hear Bluetooth headset without a phone. Garmin has solved this problem with the new Forerunner 645 Music, and we suspect the 935’s ultimate replacement will add these features.
The Garmin Forerunner 935 also does not support Garmin Pay.
Garmin is an old master in this sports watch arena, with a portfolio filled with compelling devices. The Forerunner 935 is certainly not only equipped with the various functions, but also with the interaction of all functions. It feels better and wears better than the lower Forerunner devices, though not the luxury the Fenix 5 offers.
The question for anyone interested in the Garmin system – and, as I said, a huge system – is, how much do you really need from your watch? For the multi-sport athlete, the Garmin Forerunner 935 is an absolute delight and, unlike the company’s previous gadgets, this is a watch that you might want to wear only every day, which can make the case easier.
For those who only want a running clock, we would do you a disservice if we did not recommend the functionality that is better for your budget in other Forerunner devices like the 735XT or the 235.
But the sheer variety of data associated with so much potential through sufficient smartwatch connectivity and compatible sensors and accessories makes it impossible not to recommend the Garmin Forerunner 935 Few others can match.