Putting in the multisport miles-Garmin Forerunner 735XT

Watch review

Quick verdict

A complete feature set for multi-racers in an easy-to-carry design. With excellent battery life and support for smartwatch features, you are fully aware of whether it’s your daily activities or the specifics of your workout. There is no altimeter and the user interface is not the most logical but a solid performance.


  • Excellent HR and GPS performance
  • Lots of functions
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Compatible with a full range of sensors
  • Great for multisport athletes with specific profiles for triathlon and duathlon


  • No on-board music support
  • UI is a little convoluted
  • No altimeter/barometer for accurate elevation tracking

The Garmin Forerunner family has always been a firm favorite with those who are more serious about their sport. For runners and triathletes often the device of choice, there is now a wide selection of watches that allow you to track any movement, regardless of your activity.

The Forerunner 735XT was designed for multi-sportsmen. It is a good choice in the lineup, especially if you can not keep the substantial price of the new Forerunner 935, which is admittedly the better overall unit if you can afford it.

We’ve been working with the Garmin 735XT to see exactly what it offers and where it fits into the Forerunner range.

Garmin Forerunner 735XT review: Design

  • Conventional round design
  • No touch support
  • 5ATM waterproofing
  • 44.5 x 44.5 x 11.9mm; 44g 

The Forerunner 735XT swings as a progressive sports watch with a position above the devices of the 600 series. The 735XT was the first Forerunner device to offer Garmin’s Elevate wristwatch for heart rate tracking – and saw a significant shift from the breast-based heart rate tracking feature that had dominated Garmin’s previous devices. For Garmin, this was a major turnaround that competed with its emerging rivals on a practical level.

The 735XT is compact and quite slim and offers both sporty and conventional looks. Choose the black model and it is rather unremarkable, but for those who want a little more pomp for their sporty watch, there is a blue version with a bracelet that has a turquoise color.

With a diameter of 44.5 mm, the 735XT is not too clumsy, even if the smaller wrists are a little too small in size. However, it’s not big to be tall – you’ll want the display area – and it’s not too thick with just under 12mm. We’ve been wearing it for about a month and it’s a bit far from the thickness of older Garmin devices. So it’s a simple clock to live with.

There are buttons around the circumference of the 735XT, and we’ve found that we’ve accidentally triggered the Start / Activity button a few times – it’s just too easy to press. Otherwise, the buttons provide easy navigation through the UI, although the hierarchy of pages is not always the most logical.

For example, to access the menu, you must first go to the activity area and scroll down. However, there is a separate “Options” menu area, which you can access by long-pressing the up arrow to activate the music control and clock options. This is an area different from the Forerunner 935 – which provides a more logical navigation to the user interface.

On board the 735XT is a waterproofing with 5ATM protection so you can wear the watch while swimming. If you want accurate heart rate measurements while swimming, you will need the HRM-Swim or HRM-Tri accessory bands.

The supplied watch strap of the 735XT is comfortable and can be easily adjusted to the correct tightness. This makes this Forerunner a great watch, suitable for both sports and all-day recording of your general activities.

Garmin Forerunner 735XT : Features and performance

  • Compass & accelerometer 
  • Wrist-based heart-rate sensor

The hardware offered by the Forerunner 735XT offers extensive support for activities. Of the basic day-long activity tracker features, such as step tracking and resting heart rate, it really is the sports features for which you should buy this watch. With profiles for a whole range of sports, including running, swimming, cycling and more, the “XT” in the name of the 735 recalls that this is a specially designed multi-sports device with support for triathlon, duathlon and even brick support, so that your race and your training are easy to follow.

If you tap the backspace key during a multisport event, this phase will be marked as completed while you break the swim transition bike transition run while letting the timer run. The biggest challenge is probably to remember that you need to press the button on T1 if you have many other things to consider.

In terms of hardware, it is the addition of the compass that sets the 735XT apart from the Forerunner 235 model. This gives you more precise navigation, giving you cross-route bus crumb routes in real-time along with the option to return to the starting point of your route.

There is no barometer, thermometer or gyroscope in the 735XT, which sets this watch apart from the flagship Forerunner 935. There are some other features, such as accumulated training load. You will receive a recommendation for the recovery time for the 735XT. However, this is not the case with the 935. The lack of a barometer for accurate altitude changes is the biggest drawback of this device – and what cyclists will miss for you. I rely on GPS altitude change measurements.

The Forerunner 735XT can retrieve a large amount of data and present it in a meaningful way, with the display during the sport is most important. If no touch is supported, use the up and down buttons on the left side of the clock to scroll through the screens. All important information is easily accessible – speed, distance, time, pace, heart rate and RF zone – and laps are automatically registered or manually marked and fully customizable.

Any doubts about the performance of Elevate’s wrist-based heart rate tracker can be dispelled, as this is a consistent and reliable wrist-based system. The BPM averages fall within the expected lines and the readings correspond to our manual heart rate measurement.

As already mentioned, the watch also supports Garmin heart rate chest straps. We used the soft strap of our old Forerunner 610 and the performance was seamless. It also supports ANT + and can therefore be combined with a variety of accessories for your swimming or cycling, so you can also add a cadence sensor.

The Forerunner 735XT also fixes some of the shortcomings we’ve seen in other HR models on the wrist: it responds quickly to tempo changes and does not seem to suffer from spikes that produce different results.

GPS route tracking is accurate. The recorded distances are close enough to the expected or measured values ​​on the map. GPS capture is also fast – even during a cold start. Sometimes the GPS reception can be lost under a thick cover. However, this is common on most devices.

What we like best is that you can clearly see the information you’re looking for on the run and these screens are customizable. There is support for a number of training options. The clock offers intervals (you can edit) and goals (speed, distance, pace or combinations – like time and distance), which means you can test yourself at the predicted race pace to hit training goals.

You can also create workouts in the Garmin Connect app and send them to the watch, while controlling the app’s display is much easier. If you want a specific interval type, you can make it easier in the app than over the clock.

You also receive the performance condition feature, which measures your performance at the start of your activity against your baseline averages and tells you how you feel. We love it because it tells you that you do not feel in great shape and this run hurts. It is important (especially for multi-athletes who like to overwork) that you may need to adjust the intensity of your training. Sure, you can go through it, but do not forget that rest is an integral part of any exercise program.

When it comes to battery life, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT Smartwatches will go dirty. The watch works as a general activity tracker in daily use over a period of one week, while you can record 14 hours with heart rate and GPS. That’s almost enough to see you through an Ironman (admittedly we have not tried that yet … yet).

However, with regular workouts between 30 minutes and one hour spread over the week, we only had to change it once a week. This is done via a crocodile clip charger, and charging does not take long.

Garmin Forerunner 735XT review: Smart functions and app

  • Garmin Connect Mobile compatible
  • Connect IQ supported
  • Supports smartphone notifications 

Garmin has not ignored the growing specter of the smartwatch and added its intelligent features as wearable development progresses to its devices. The Forerunner 735XT supports smartwatch notifications. If you’ve paired it with an Android phone, all notifications will run on a regular basis – even if you really can not do anything with it. Unlike an Android Wear watch, you will not be able to answer messages or the like, but at least you will be warned so you can read those messages.

You have the option to accept calls, but this is really for those who have headphones connected, otherwise you would answer your phone in your pocket. You’re supposed to be able to control music (although we did not manage to get this feature working), remotely controlling the music from your phone, not the clock. This is a disadvantage of the Forerunner compared to the TomTom Spark 3 – there is no way to charge music and connect headphones.

Garmin also supports a number of Connect IQ apps, which you can access and install on your phone through the Garmin Connect app. This does not affect the broad support for apps that you get for Apple Watch or Android Wear, but you have more integration with services or customization options so your Garmin is not connected to static devices as a fixed device set of features.

The 735XT supports Garmin Connect Mobile. This means that the watch is connected directly to your phone without having to jump through a PC (yes, TomTom, we’ll look at you). The app contains all your details and training history, which can then be shared and linked to other services like Strava if you want to publish your training across there.

Garmin Connect Mobile has continued to refine itself over the past year and has grown from something archaic to much more modern, in part due to the explosion of lifestyle equipment in the Vivo line. Use app

You can customize what you see in Garmin Connect Mobile, although data users still want to go to the website version to gain better access to these great graphics and maps.

Note that the data is synced to the cloud and the results are returned to your watch. So if you do not have a data connection on your phone, syncing is frustrating. At least you can operate your Garmin PC-free if you want.

With Garmin Mobile Connect, you can also use the LiveTrack feature, which is suitable for cyclists. So you can share your ride on social media or track your progress. If you go on a long journey, it can give your family peace of mind that can see where you are without you having to call or send a message.


The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is an expensive device, but tailored to support multisport athletes. It contains many features for a demanding user group.

That’s what’s important about the 735XT: It’s fully equipped with advanced features such as smartphone support, a wealth of performance and health data, and it syncs reliably with Garmin Connect (if you can sync).

The Garmin Forerunner 735XT has been on the market for some time and offers many options in the field of sports watches. If you are interested in performance and features, this Garmin is hard to beat.

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