On a scale of 1 to 10, the Garmin Forerunner 935 is Awesome! (Yes, we really loved testing it)
Before I dive into my 935xt review, I wanted to extend a special thanks to our sponsor HeartRateMonitorsUSA for giving us the opportunity to test the Garmin 935XT. Please support this site.
Probably the 2 main questions about the new Forerunner 935 are:
- What is difference of the Forerunner 935xt compared to the Forerunner 920XT or 735XT?
- What is different between the Forerunner 935Xt and the Garmin Fenix 5
|Forerunner 935||Forerunner 920XT||Forerunner 735XT||Fenix 5S||Fenix 5||Fenix 5X|
|Dimensions:||47mm x 47 x 13||45 x 55 x 12.7||44.5 x 44.5 x 11.9||42 x 42 x 14.5||47 x 47 x 15.5||51 x 51 x 17.5|
|Display Size:||1.2″ diameter||1.1 “x .8”||1.23″ diameter||1.1″ diameter||1.2″ diameter||1.2″ diameter|
|Resolution:||240 x 240||205 X 148||215 x 180||218 x 218||240 x 240||240 x 240|
|Weight:||49 grams||61 grams||40 grams||67 grams||85 grams||98 grams|
|Water Rating:||5 ATM (50 Meters)||5 ATM||5 ATM||10 ATM (100 Meters)||10 ATM||10 ATM|
|Memory:||64 MB||32 MB||80 Hours||64 MB||64 MB||16 GB|
|GPS Battery:||24 hours||24 hours||14 hours||14 hours||24 hours||20 hours|
|UltraTrac:||75 hours||40 hours||24 hours||40 hours||75 hours||50 hours|
Let’s start with what has been added from the 920XT:
- ∼Looking at the metrics above, you can see that almost every aspect physically is better
- ∼Wrist based heart rate with Garmin Elevate 2.0
- ∼BLE HRM compatible
- ∼Training Status, Training Load, Training Effect 2.0, Group Live Track, Golf plus many more activity profiles and a gyroscope. All of which we will go into further detail below
- ∼Lactate Threshold
To compare the 735xt to the 935XT:
- ∼Looking at the metrics above you can see that the major benefit of the 735xt is that it is lighter, but not significantly
- ∼The 735xt does not have a barometric altimeter or Wi-Fi or BLE HRM compatibility whereas the 935 does
- ~The heart rate sensor does not protrude the watch like the 735Xt
So, what about the new Fenix 5? How does the 935 compare to those new 3 units (Fenix 5S, 5, 5X)? Well to make things simple, the Fenix 5 and 935 are essentially the same watch. They all have the same menus and the same features. The difference is in the battery life, size and makeup of the watch itself.
Forerunner 935xt compared to the Fenix 5S:
- ∼The Fenix 5S is smaller but it is heavier due to the metal casing
- ∼The only other benefit over 935 is 10ATM water resistant but I don’t know many people diving more than 100 meters deep
- ∼It also comes in a sapphire lens version which is on a scale of 1 to 10 about a 9 on a strength scale compared to about a 4 on the 935 lens
- ∼After using many different Garmin watches, or any watch for that matter, over the past decades of running, I have only cracked 1 so although the sapphire lens is nice, I wouldn’t overly worry about the non-sapphire lenses being too fragile
- ∼It is nice to know that you can have peace of mind with the sapphire lens but it comes with a higher cost
Forerunner 935xt compared to the Fenix 5:
- ∼The 935 and Fenix 5 are essentially the same watch physically with the Fenix being a bit thicker and much heavier
- ∼It also has a sapphire lens version
Forerunner 935xt compared to the Fenix 5X:
- ∼This is the mack daddy of watches! It is roughly the same size as the former Fenix 3 HR
- ∼The biggest difference is that this watch comes with preloaded OSM (Open Street Maps) for roads and trails and topo maps as well
- ∼You can get routing directions, Points of Interest nearby and Round Trip Routing for any given distance
- ∼It comes with a sapphire lens
- ∼It is twice the weight of the 935
All Fenix 5 versions also come with Garmin Quickfit bands so a band can be swapped in seconds. The 935 is compatible with the Quickfit bands (the Fenix 5 compatibility bands) but just doesn’t come with one.
A few additional features that comes in the new Forerunner 935 that were not in the 920XT are:
- ∼Floors Climbed, Intensity Minutes, HRV Stress Test, Compass
- ∼Additional built in activity profiles (Apps) of Golf, Trail Run, Ski, XC Ski, Snowboard, Climb, Hike, SUP, Row, Jumpmaster, Tactical plus more
Let’s go a bit more into some of the other advanced features like Training Effect (TE). I have found this metric to be one of the best during my training to make sure I am not over doing it. The Training Effect score is between 1 and 5 with 5 being overreaching and 1 not doing much. You would expect to see a score above 4 for a workout, hard, long run or race but when you start seeing high numbers on recovery or easy days, you know you are doing too much. Either you are not recovered from your harder training or races or you are just running too hard on these days. Everyone is different but there are so many days above 4 you should have in a week.
For anyone that has used this metric in the past, you may have noticed that you don’t necessarily get as a high a number when doing an interval workout as maybe you would expect. That is mostly due to the recovery after each interval being easier and causing the TE to score lower than if you just ran hard the entire time. In the new 935, there is now Training Effect 2.0 which also shows an Anaerobic TE which gives you a similar score based on Anaerobic activity. So now you get a Training Effect and Anaerobic Training Effect after each run.
This new feature will analyze your training giving you additional insight as to how you are handling your training. There are 7 different stages including, Productive, Overreaching and Peaking and calculates this by tracking your Lactate Threshold and VO2 Max.
Training Load is a 7 days summary of your training to let you know if you are training in the right zone by comparing your HR and V02 Max data. You can also pull up a graph showing you your last 7 days score and where that falls in the graph.
Another advanced HR feature that was in the 735XT but not in the 920XT is Lactate Threshold. This value can be achieved by performing a test or a value will be given if you run hitting specific HR values throughout the run. The best thing about this is that most people do not know what their HR zones are and once the LT is calculated, you can have the watch use HR zones based off your LT. This makes the zones much more accurate.
One thing it is important to understand is that all the advanced HR metrics like TE, VO2 Max estimate and LT all use your maximum HR in the equation. That is the only number you have control over. The watch will default to 220 minus your age to calculate your Max HR. For many people, especially runners, this will be way off. All the advanced HR metrics will be off if your Max HR is incorrect BUT it will be consistently off. So, if your VO2 is going up or down, it is still going up or down. The Max HR will be adjusted up if you exceed what it thinks your max is but you will need to run hard enough to go above that number. It also cannot automatically adjust down if your max is lower than it thinks. Not everyone runs hard enough to achieve their max HR. If you know, or have a better idea, of what you max is, you can manually enter it on the watch.
Don’t forget about the Connect IQ store. With the thousands of free apps, widgets and data fields, if this watch doesn’t do something you would like it to do, there probably is something in the Connect IQ store that will do what you are looking for.
There is much more testing of this watch that needs to be done for me to give a more in depth write up, but if you want the best metrics for your training in a nice looking smart watch that is lightweight and has tons of battery life (over 70 hours in Ultratrac and 24 in GPS Mode), this may be the best GPS watch for you.
Please check back soon for even more information on this watch.
Written By DGR