Garmin has traditionally been focussed on fitness-oriented smartwatches as opposed to its peers who are building smartwatches that can be an accompaniment to smartphones.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is a new model that was four years in the making. This smartwatch comes with built-in music playback support and occupies the middle slot in Garmin’s Forerunner range. It possibly offers the best bang for your buck too.
So, what’s new?
The Forerunner 245 is a more holistic fitness watch and can track a lot more activities. It provides detailed feedback on your daily training sessions, and warns you if your load is too low or too high. It also lets you check stress levels. This is powered by the new Elevate heart rate sensor fitted in the smartwatch.
The biggest upgrade in the Forerunner 245 is in the battery department. It lasts twice more than its predecessor even when GPS is enabled. The design is compact and the watch fits perfectly on your wrist.
But, the question to ask is: does a fitness-focused hybrid smartwatch perform better than a regular smartwatch (Fitbit Versa 2, Galaxy Watch 4G, and Apple Watch Series 5, etc.)?
Let’s find out.
The five-button layout
If you’ve never used a Garmin device before, you’re going to be a tad puzzled by the brand’s signature five-button layout. The benefit of a buttoned layout (as opposed to a touchscreen) is that it is easier to use the watch while you’re running and your hands get sweaty.
Yet, the five-button layout is not user-friendly for most. But, once you master the art of operating it, there is no looking back. If you’re into swimming, then the buttons are a much more practical solution than a touchscreen.
Long pressing the middle button will give you access to settings (watch faces, sensors, widgets, etc.) The bottom right button will take you back to the home screen.
The watch weighs just 38.5 grams, and comes with a soft silicone strap that fits comfortably on the wrist.
Display and OS
The Forerunner 245 comes with a 240×240 colour display and is aided by Gorilla Glass. The panel is powered by Garmin’s Chroma technology that makes it easier to read the screen in direct sunlight.
Garmin uses a transflective memory-in-pixel technology as opposed to the more widely used AMOLED tech. It relies on external sources to light up the screen. In dark conditions, there is an LED backlight for that purpose. This is designed to conserve battery.
The watch comes with a 5ATM rating, which means it is safe to use it in water that is 50 metres deep. The Forerunner 245 also has a pulse-ox sensor that can measure oxygen saturation levels in your blood. There is Galileo GPS support too in the music edition, and can store about 500 music tracks.
The Forerunner 245 even has an incident detection and safety tracking feature.
In addition, it tracks all-day activity, sleep and heart rate, and sends our alerts to your smartphone. The watch comes bundled with a few swappable straps as well.
Let the music play
Forerunner 245 Music offers Bluetooth connectivity and supports most audio headsets. To load music, you have to use the Garmin Express app. It is a slow but seamless process.
Garmin has also introduced support for Spotify. If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, you can directly load playlists from the app onto the smartwatch.
Exercising is always more fun with music, and because the Forerunner 245 has in-built music, you can leave your smartphone at home when you go for a run.
Screen and notifications
The Forerunner 245 has multiple screens – weather, calendar, notifications, heart rate, steps, health stats, workout history, and much more. Each screen is in the form of a widget that you can add, remove, or rearrange anytime.
The screens are a bit overwhelming at first, but Garmin has managed to make things as simple as possible. It takes a bit of getting used to though.
The Forerunner 245 is quite unlike the Apple Watch or the Samsung Galaxy Watch. With those watches, you can reply to messages, make phone calls, access AI-enabled assistants, and much more. With the Forerunner 245, however, you can only view notifications. To take any action, you have to resort to the smartphone.
On the notifications-front too, things can improve. When there are multiple notifications, the most recent ones do not show up unless you clear the old ones.
Fitness-focused GPS watch
The main focus of the Forerunner 245 is on fitness. It excels in that, not only tracking your daily activities but also pushing you to do more.
The Forerunner 245 improves upon its predecessor (the Forerunner 235) when it comes to sports-related tracking. You can track a plethora of activities such as outdoor running, indoor track running, yoga, cardio, treadmill, cycling, indoor cycling, rowing, walking, indoor walking, pool swimming, and more. You can also create your customised workout regime via the ‘others’ option.
It even tracks fitness age, body battery (sleep quality and heart rate variability), and shows you the energy levels each day.
The GPS is much more accurate compared to its predecessors, and offers more detailed insights on walking, routes, distance, cadence and pace. The watch uses your GPS coordinates to estimate elevation changes, and also comes with a bread-crumb trail feature. It means if you get lost in the woods, you can use the map to trace your way back.
What the Forerunner 245 possibly lacks is a barometric altimeter, which is available in the more expensive Forerunner 945. This means that it is unable to track elevation changes while you’re climbing a flight of stairs or hiking.
Stellar battery life
Garmin claims that the Forerunner 245 has seven days of battery life. That is miles ahead of the Galaxy Watch 4G, Apple Watch or any other competing device in this segment. But, with the GPS constantly on, the Forerunner 245 lasts for a single day.
If you’re playing music and have GPS turned on, then the Forerunner 245 will last just about six hours. That may not seem like a lot, but it is more than enough juice to get people through a lengthy run, including a marathon.
The Garmin Express app
It takes a bit of time navigating through the Garmin Express app, which serves as an accompaniment to the device. It is compatible with both Android and iOS phones.
The main screen categorises your fitness stats under ‘My Day’, ‘Yesterday’, and ‘Last 7 Days’. The app also displays a ‘Body Battery’ metric. The higher the number, the more energy reserves you have.
You can also track the challenges you’ve completed, maintain a calendar of your past activities, and browse through Facebook-like News Feed to see what your friends (fellow Garmin users) are up to. You can also create a customised profile, and check out apps at the Connect IQ Store.
Verdict: Best Garmin watch so far
The Forerunner 245 Music (which comes in Black, Lava Red and Aqua colours) retails for Rs 34,990. You can get the non-music version of Forerunner 245 (in Slate and Amp Yellow colours) at Rs 29,990.
If you are a fitness nerd, who doesn’t care about flashy smartwatches, then this watch is your best ‘fit’. If you carry your smartphone for music, you can settle for the regular Forerunner 245.
But, if you’re inclined to leave the phone at home, and still enjoy songs on the runs, then get the Forerunner 245 Music. In that case, just don’t forget to charge it daily!