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Garmin Forerunner 235 Review - A Runner's Favorite

Garmin 235 Review: A Runner’s Favorite

Anyone who has trained for our annual half marathon, 10K, or 5K understands the importance of following a training program with clear goals. One of the tools we recommend using to track your progress and create a personalized training program is a GPS watch.

The very first GPS watch we selected for our review series is the Garmin 235. It’s a product we enjoy using, and we’re excited to show you why it’s one of the favorite GPS watches among the running community in our Garmin 235 review.

  • Tracks distance, pace, time, heart rate and more
  • Connected features¹: automatic uploads to Garmin Connect™, live tracking, audio prompts, smart notifications and social media sharing
  • Activity tracking² counts daily steps, distance, calories and sleep
  • The Garmin Forerunner 235 continues to be a Runner’s Favorite. Even though it is an older watch, it’s still a great value!

Garmin 235 Overview

The Garmin 235 Forerunner is a smart wristwatch with a built-in GPS, heart-rate monitor, activity tracker, and more. Garmin has been one of the leading manufacturers on the GPS market since its creation in 1989. The company has a wide range of products, including navigation systems for cars, handheld GPS, and even marine GPS.

Garmin GPS systems are accurate within 49 feet in 95% of cases. You can expect GPS readings to be accurate within 16 to 33 feet in most situations. This accuracy is one of the reasons why Garmin is one of the most popular GPS watchmakers.

Here are the main pros and cons of the Garmin 235 watch.


  • GPS and activity tracker in one
  • Heart-rate sensor
  • Sync your data with Garmin Connect app
  • Modern, stylish, and waterproof design
  • Long battery life


  • Not the most recent GPS watch from Garmin
  • Only one size available
  • No music player
  • Older Model it was released in 2015
Garmin Forerunner 235 Pros and Cons Review

What to Consider Before Buying a GPS Watch

A GPS watch provides you with data about your pace, time, distance, heart rates, calories burned, and other indicators. This information helps you set new goals, monitor your progress, and be more mindful of your lifestyle and activity level.

The great thing about the Garmin 235 is that it’s not only for athletes. Sunday joggers and casual runners will get something out of using the watch to monitor their activity. Anyone can review their day thanks to the day at a glance feature available in Garmin Connect and challenge themselves to do better the next day!

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before purchasing a GPS watch:

  • What kind of data will help me reach my goals?
  • Will I use the watch for running or monitoring other activities as well?
  • Do I need a watch that tracks sleep patterns and activities throughout the entire day?
  • Do I need additional features like personalized advice, workout routines, or access to a fitness community?

Main Features of the Garmin 235 Forerunner

Let’s take a closer look at the most important features of this GPS watch.

Built-in GPS

The GPS tracker calculates your distance, pace, and time when you run. The device uses data from GPS and GLONASS satellites to provide optimal coverage. You can get accurate GPS data, even in remote areas. There is a built-in accelerometer sensor that records motion and velocity.

The watch doesn’t have GPS maps or routes as a built-in feature, but you can add this functionality by downloading the dwmap app on the Connect IQ store. We recommend this app because it adds some interesting features. You can use it to create a running route on your computer and download it to your watch before you head out.

Built in GPS for Tracking Runs

Heart Rate Monitor

The GPS watch works as a wrist-based heart rate monitor thanks to the Garmin Elevate optical sensor. You can pair the watch with an ANT+ heart rate monitor if you want to take more accurate measurements with a chest-based monitor.

The purpose of the heart rate monitor feature is to provide you with different estimates. You can access data about:

  • VO2 max, or the maximum volume of oxygen you typically consume during activity.
  • Target race time based on your fitness level.
  • Optimal recovery time after a run or workout.
Garmin Forerunner 235 Review Sensor

Activity Tracker

The Garmin 235 is more than a GPS watch. It doubles as an activity tracker that monitors your activities and sleep 24/7. Here are a few highlights of this feature:

  • Access data about the number of steps, distance, and calories burned throughout the day.
  • Keep track of how much you sleep
  • Meet auto goals created by your Garmin watch based on the activity levels from previous days.
  • Get move alerts as a reminder to get up and walk if the watch detects you have been inactive.
  • Turn off notifications and move alerts when you sleep with the do not disturb mode.
Activity Tracker and Stats Display

Phone Notifications

You can pair your Garmin 235 with your Android or iOS device via Bluetooth. This feature allows you to see notifications for messages and calls on your watch screen.

It’s a useful feature since you can take a quick look at your GPS watch and make sure you never miss anything important while running.

Watch Design

The Garmin 235 stands out thanks to its large color display that is easy to see outside. The 215×180 pixel resolution makes data easy to read. The display has a diameter of 1.23 inches.

The watch is very comfortable, thanks to its soft silicone band. You can swap the silicone band to personalize your watch.

The device has a water rating of 5 ATM. It means it can withstand pressure that is equivalent to being 50 meters below the water surface. You can wear the watch safely while swimming or showering.

You will find five buttons around the face of the watch to navigate its features, including:

  1. One on-off button.
  2. A button to start and stop the timer
  3. A return button that doubles as a button that masks a new lap.
  4. Up and down buttons to navigate the menus.
Garmin 235 Reviews


The Garmin 235 Forerunner features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Battery life depends on the features you use.

The battery can last nine weeks in watch mode, eight weeks with activity tracking enabled, and four weeks if you sync the watch with your smartphone. The battery will last nine days if you use the heart rate monitor continuously.

Connect IQ

Connect IQ is an app store where you can download applications and widgets for your Garmin device. You can download customizable watch faces, add data fields to your watch, or find weather apps and widgets. You can also use Connect IQ to get training plans on your watch, and even play games.

Garmin 235 and the Garmin Connect App

What People Are Saying

The Garmin 235 has remained one of the most popular GPS watches among the running community since its release in 2015. It has a score of 4.5 on Google with over 2,000 reviews.

Garmin Forerunner 235 has over 2000 Reviews on Google and a 4.5 Star Rating

Are There Any Good Alternatives to the Garmin 235?

The Garmin 235 watch came out in 2015, and Garmin has released newer iterations of the watch since then. Even though you can still find the 235 model, Garmin might phase it out over the next few years and replace it with the 245.

Garmin 245

The Garmin 245 is smaller than the 235. You can use it to track a wider range of activities, including running, cycling, and swimming.  You can also use it to count reps during strength training. The activity tracker feature becomes a stress tracking feature to monitor your health.

The GPS feature is more accurate thanks to the built-in compass. Another noteworthy addition is the built-in music player available on the Garmin 245 Music model.

Garmin 45

The Garmin 45 could replace the 235 model as an inexpensive GPS watch. It’s more affordable than the 235 watch and comes with all the same core features.

The Garmin 45 watch has better GPS coverage with the addition of data from the Galileo system, and you can create gym activity profiles.

Garmin Forerunner 45

Garmin Forerunner 245

Final Thoughts

While the Garmin 235 Forerunner isn’t the most recent GPS watch on the market, it’s still one of the most well-rounded activity trackers for running. Our Garmin 235 review is a positive one because the watch is one of the best investments you can make in terms of quality and value.

The mix of data from the GPS feature, heart rate monitor, and activity tracker helps you design a comprehensive training plan. We also like the Connect IQ store that gives you access to additional apps and widgets. It’s one of the features that helps you customize your watch and get more out of the device.

It’s true that there are newer options to consider. You should look into alternatives if you want a watch that doubles as a music player or would like a lighter design. But the Garmin 235 is still a popular option among the running community because it’s user-friendly and offers excellent value.

Picture of Robby McClung

Robby McClung

Robby is the founder of the Canaan Valley Running Company. You can read more in the about section of the website on Robby and the Canaan Valley Running Company.

  • Tracks distance, pace, time, heart rate and more
  • Connected features¹: automatic uploads to Garmin Connect™, live tracking, audio prompts, smart notifications and social media sharing
  • Activity tracking² counts daily steps, distance, calories and sleep
  • The Garmin Forerunner 235 continues to be a Runner’s Favorite. Even though it is an older watch, it’s still a great value!

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