Garmin Forerunner 45

Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS Running Watch

Is the Garmin 45 any good?

The Garmin Forerunner 45 is by far the best budget running watch you can buy today, offering an appealing design and a raft of excellent features. Those include GPS tracking, a heart-rate monitor, and, perhaps most impressively, the ability to follow structured workouts or even entire training plans from your wrist.

With that in mind, you hardly need to go any further if you’re looking for help choosing your first GPS running watch. However, if you want to get into the nuts and bolts, to justify splashing out, read on. If you’re serious about improving your performance, it might just be the best £180 you’ve ever spent.

Lets look into the features that the Garmin forerunner 45 includes in more by starting with the main features.

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Table of Contents

In Depth Garmin Forerunner 45 review

What Features does the Forerunner 45 have?

– Added two sizes: 39mm (Forerunner 45S) and 42mm (Forerunner 45)
– Added color display
– Added structured workout support
– Added training plans support (including calendar/scheduled workouts)
– Added Garmin Coach compatibility
– Added Connect IQ Watch Face support
– Added incident (crash/fall) detection
– Added safety tracking/assistance
– Added Pace/Speed alerts
– Added stress widget/tracking
– Added VO2Max calculation
– Added 24×7 HR tracking widget/tracking
– Added body battery widget/tracking
– Added new Garmin Gen3 ELEVATE optical HR sensor
– Added more sport modes
– Changed from square watch to round watch
– Changed from 4 to 5 buttons (which actually makes a world of difference)
– Changed all-day battery from 9 days down to 7 days
– Of note: GPS-on battery life remains same at 13 hours (GPS-mode)

Now if you’re not familiar with the Garmin Forerunner family at this price point, here’s the two-second version of what else you’ve got in it:

– Built-in GPS (no reliance on phone for GPS)
– Workout support for a few sports, with customizable pages/fields
– 24×7 activity tracking, including sleep
– Optical heart rate sensor in watch
– Smartphone notifications
– Live tracking when paired with a smartphone
– Weather/calendar widgets
– Vibration/Audio alerts
– Uploading to Garmin Connect Training Log website via phone or USB
– Broadcasting of your HR over ANT+ (from wrist to other devices)
– Automatic sync to 3rd party sites like Strava, MyFitnessPal, TrainingPeaks and many more

Design and Display

The Forerunner 45 looks completely different than the Forerunner 35, with a circular design that looks a lot more like a traditional watch. The watch comes in either a 42mm case size, or a smaller 39mm size called the 45S. Normally I go for the smaller size, but the 42mm model I tested looks good and doesn’t feel overly big at all. According to Garmin’s site, it’s ideal for wrists with a circumference of 5.0 to 7.8 inches. At 1.26 ounces, it’s also very lightweight and comes in either black or red. The 45S, meanwhile, comes in black, purple, or white.

Surrounded by a black polymer bezel, the Forerunner’s 1.04-inch color display features a 208-by-208-pixel resolution and transflective memory-in-pixel technology that makes it easily visible in direct sunlight.

Navigation buttons can be found on either side of the display. On the left, the top button controls power, the backlight, and toggles the controls menu. Use the middle button to scroll up through widgets, and hold it down to view the menu. To scroll down through the same windows, press the button on the bottom left; hold it down to access music controls.

The right side of the watch is home to two buttons. The top button starts and stops the timer on activities and acts as the select control. The bottom button is to return to previous windows. It’s also used to record laps during an activity. Having tested the Forerunner 245 recently, navigating the Foreunner 45 wasn’t difficult, but if you’ve never used a Garmin watch, it takes some time to get used to.

The good news though is that you can download thousands of custom watch faces from Garmin Connect IQ store, which is Garmin’s free app store. Heck, you can even make your own watch faces – including adding in photos as the background. The world is your oyster, or at least, the watch face portion of the world.

Features and Battery Life

The Forerunner 45 connects to your phone via the Garmin Connect app, which shows you the same metrics found on the watch, including body battery, heart rate, sleep, steps, and stress. When paired with your phone, the watch receives calls, texts, and smartphone notifications. If you’re connected to an Android device, you can use the watch to send customized text messages or quick replies. You can also sync your activity with fitness apps like MyFitnessPal and Strava.

The watch comes with Garmin’s safety and tracking features. With incident detection, it identifies when you’ve been in an accident and notifies your emergency contacts with your location information. There’s also LiveTrack, which allows family and friends to track your workout session, such as activity time, elevation, distance, and speed, as soon as it starts. You need to have your phone connected for these features, as the watch itself doesn’t feature cellular connectivity.

Unlike the Forerunner 35, which has no access to the Garmin Connect IQ store, the 45 does. But you can only use it to download different watch faces rather than third-party apps. There is also no onboard music storage, though you have the ability to control the music on your phone from the watch.

As for battery life, Garmin says the Forerunner 45 can last up to a week on a full charge. After using it nonstop for four days in a row, I still had 40 percent battery left, so this estimate seems accurate.

garmin 45 batterylife
Gamins Heartrate monitor

Garmin's Heart Rate Monitor any good?

The Forerunner 45 benefits from a new optical HR sensor ‘package’, the same exact package as the Forerunner 245/945/MARQ. This is used to track your heart rate 24×7, as well as during workouts. For heart rate, it includes modest updates over the sensors used about a year ago, though a bit more significant update over the much older Forerunner 35 sensors.  Note that while the sensor hardware itself on the FR45 compared to that of the other new units noted, it doesn’t have PulseOx enabled.

From a continuous heart rate standpoint, it tracks this constantly and then uploads it into Garmin Connect mobile as well. I use resting HR as a great indicator of when you’re over-trained, fatigued, or when sickness is on the way.

Fitness Features and Accuracy

The Forerunner 45 has an accelerometer, a GPS with GLONASS and Galileo satellite systems, and an optical heart rate monitor. With a 5ATM water-resistance rating, it’s safe to take for a swim and wear in the shower.

The watch offers five different exercise modes to choose from: cycling, multisport, running, swimming, and walking. While in workout mode, it displays stats like distance, time, pace, and heart rate. Your information then syncs with the Garmin Connect app, where you can see a clear overview of all of your stats.

In terms of step count, the watch is highly accurate. During a one-mile walk on a treadmill, the Forerunner logged 2,000 steps to a 3DTriMax pedometer’s 2,039 steps, for a difference of only 39. During a one-mile run, the watch logged 2,205 steps to the pedometer’s 2,252 steps, for a difference of 47. I also took the Forerunner 45 for an outdoor run, where it logged 2,030 to the pedometer’s 2,118 steps.

Strava GPS

For distance tracking, the Forerunner logged 0.61 miles to a Stryd foot pod’s 0.96 miles, for a considerable difference of 0.35 miles. I also wore a Fitbit Versa 2, which logged 0.74 miles. Results were better during a one-mile run on the treadmill, in which the Forerunner logged 1.0 mile to the Stryd’s 0.94. It also did fairly well outdoors, where it logged 0.83 miles to the Stryd’s 1.0 mile.

The heart rate monitor is very accurate. During a one-mile walk on the treadmill, both the watch and a Polar H10 chest strap recorded 144bpm, and during a one-mile run, the watch recorded 163bpm to Polar’s 162bpm, so you can feel confident in its results.

The Forerunner 45 also does well tracking sleep accurately, correctly identifying the times you go to bed and wake up. In the app, you can see the amount of time you slept for, and how long you were in REM, Deep, and Light sleep stages.

Conclusions

There’s no question that Garmin packed an incredible number of features into the Garmin Forerunner 45, at least from an upgrade perspective over the Garmin Forerunner 35. Just like how the new Forerunner 245 stole features from once higher end watches, the Forerunner 45 effectively did the same from the Forerunner 235.

Everything just slides down one notch, though, this model line also increased in price over the previous edition – whereas the Forerunner 235 to Forerunner 245 didn’t cost any more (in fact, it went down). Still, if sports and fitness is what you’re after – then the Forerunner 45 is a super strong offering.

And so while I can’t really argue with any of the features/functionality of the Forerunner 45 by itself, I think in some ways Garmin is playing with new price point. As I noted earlier on, Apple has been toying with letting some larger retailers push the Apple Watch Series 3 down for short term sales. And it’s been doing so with increasing frequency as of late. It’s hard to imagine any scenario that doesn’t end up with Apple officially announcing the Series 3 being offered at lower price going forward from this fall as the baseline. While Garmin easily beats Apple in sports features, that’s a much tougher pitch when it comes to usage as a lifestyle watch. Of course, I’ve gotta believe Garmin designed this watch with significant margins to dramatically drop prices if situations require. And, at present it’s hard to argue with the reality that the company is selling more fitness and outdoors watches than ever before (of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t losing more sales to Apple than ever before).

There’s not much out there that has this level of sports/fitness integration except Polar Watches, and in their case, they don’t pack the same features into as small a footprint watch-size wise than Garmin does. Which, for a lot of people will help with their decision. 

More details can be found by clicking the below link through to amazon, which also have a large number of reviews to help you make your decision.

Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS Running Watch with Garmin Coach Training Plan Support - Black, Large
1,366 Reviews
Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS Running Watch with Garmin Coach Training Plan Support - Black, Large
  • Easy-to-use running watch monitors heart rate at the wrist and features GPS to track your pace, distance, intervals and more
  • Works with free Garmin Coach adaptive training plans that bring expert, personalised coaching right to your wrist
  • Connected features include smart notifications for incoming texts and calls, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, live tracking and controls for the music playing on your phone
  • Safety and tracking features include incident detection (during select activities) and assistance, which both send your real-time location to emergency contacts
  • Activity tracking and sports apps for running, cycling, indoor track, treadmill, elliptical, cardio, yoga and more