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Garmin Forerunner 35 vs 235 vs 735XT vs 935 – What’s The Difference?

November 26, 2018 / Team PlayBetter

Garmin Forerunner 35 vs 235 vs 735XT vs 935 – What’s The Difference?

These days, running is a high-tech experience. Years ago, runners had nothing but a stopwatch and a track to monitor their progress, but things have changed in a big way. Today, you can gather an incredible amount of data simply by wearing the right watch when out on a run. And if you’re serious about tracking your performance, there is a good chance that watch is going to be made by Garmin. In this post, we’ll showcase the Garmin Forerunner series, offering a comparison of the Garmin Forerunner 35, 235, 735XT and 935!

The Garmin Forerunner Series

Anyone who is active in the fitness world has likely heard of the Garmin Forerunner sports watch series. This is a highly successful product line that can be found on the wrists of countless runners and bikers across the country. In this article, we’d like to compare four of the leading models in this lineup:

The naming protocol of this product line is pretty simple. As the numbers get bigger, so do the features and capabilities. You’ll find that more and more features are available on each subsequent watch. If you’re trying to decide which device is best for you, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a quick overview of each, highlighting the add-on features for each model up the scale.

Garmin Forerunner 35 – The Baseline

For many runners, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is all the device they will ever need. This reliable GPS watch offers plenty of data to track your progress and help you work toward goals. It doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles of the watches higher up the product line, but it is certainly worthy of your attention.

Key Features

  • 24/7 activity tracking—distance, steps, pace, and calories burned
  • Wrist-based heart rate tracking
  • Get notifications from your smartphone (with compatible devices)
  • Vibration alerts

If what you’re looking for is a running watch that will make it easy to monitor your runs in the moment and analyze them after, the Forerunner 35 is a strong pick. And, thanks to its modest price, you won’t have to bust your budget along the way.

Order Now - $139.99 @ PlayBetter

Garmin Forerunner 235 – A Step Up

Moving up to the next level in the line, we find the Garmin Forerunner 235. This device offers a number of significant feature advancements that are not found in the Forerunner 35.

Features Added Beyond Forerunner 35

  • Color display offers nice contrast and easy navigation
  • Additional statistics such as VO2 max estimate, recovery time, and race predictor
  • Access to Connect IQ (Garmin’s applications store)
  • Training Effect, measuring impact of fitness activity intensity levels
  • Pace alert to help you stay on track throughout your entire run

The Forerunner 235 is a great tool for serious runners. If you like to get deep into your statistics after a run and you like to keep an eye on your watch as you go, the 235 is going to be a great companion.

There is good news here with regard to price as well! Despite adding a number of valuable features, it’s only about $70 more to purchase the 235 as compared to the 35. For that relatively modest additional cost, we feel that many runners will be happy with their choice of the Forerunner 235.

Order Now - $199.99 @ PlayBetter, Bundles Available

Garmin Forerunner 735XT – Next Level Activity Tracking

We don’t want to take anything away from the first two devices on our list, because they truly are high-quality products which can add a lot to your fitness experience. However, the 735XT is where the Forerunner line really starts to get serious in terms of performance tracking. The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is a high-end device with the capability to collect an incredible amount of information.

Additional Features Available Beyond Forerunner 235

  • Advanced running dynamics
  • Strava Live Segments - Get alerts for segment starts and finishes, view leaderboard rankings, and see how your current effort compares to your PR
  • Built-in activity profiles for running, cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, paddling and more
  • Compatible with Garmin HRM-TRI Chest Strap for improved accuracy and data collection

When you push your body to the limits, you want to know how it’s responding—and how much you might have left in the tank. With the Forerunner 735XT, there will be nearly countless data points available at your disposal. Things like stress score, performance condition, and lactate threshold are all helpful in determining your current status as an athlete.

This is the first watch of the three we’ve highlighted so far that is truly designed with the multi-sport athlete in mind. If you like to run, bike, and swim—whether for triathlon training or simply for cross training purposes—this device will help you take your training to the next level.

Order Now - $349.99 @ PlayBetter, Bundles Available

Garmin Forerunner 935 – Top Of The Line

As far as Garmin fitness GPS watches are concerned, the Forerunner 935 is top of the line. You will need to spend a bit more for this watch, but that investment is going to leave you with a device that is willing to go as hard and as far as you are.

Additional Features Beyond Forerunner 735XT

  • Even more metrics! – Stride length, ground contact time, balance, vertical oscillation and vertical ratio
  • Extended battery life - Battery can last for up to 24 hours in GPS mode
  • Built-in barometer for accurate elevation data
  • Optimized for multisport training, even when changing activities on the fly
  • Improved interface and UX – Sleeker design with enhanced ergonomic features
  • Wi-Fi data transfer – transfer data over Wi-Fi post-race or workout
  • Compatible with Garmin Running Dynamics Pod

It’s not necessary to invest in a Forerunner 935 if you will simply be going out for a jog in your neighborhood a few times per week. For that task, something like the 35 or 235 will serve you perfectly. However, if you are a serious athlete who trains hard in a variety of sports, the cost of the 935 will be well worth it in the long run. Push yourself to your absolute limit—and see what you’ll need to do to take it even further.

Order Now - $449.99 @ PlayBetter, Bundles Available

Garmin Forerunner Series Comparison Chart

Here’s a comparison chart offering a quick overview of the key features in the Garmin Forerunner 35 vs 235 vs 735XT vs 935!

Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
Price $139.99 $199.99 $349.99 $449.99
Colors Available Black Black & Gray Black & Gray Watch Only
  White Frost Blue Midnight Blue / Frost Blue Tri-Bundle
  Limelight Marsala    
  Frost Blue      
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What's in the Box Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
  Charging/data cable Charging/data cable Charging/data cable Charging/data cable
  Documentation Documentation Documentation Documentation
         
General Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
Lens Material chemically strengthened glass chemically strengthened glass chemically strengthened glass chemically strengthened glass
Bezel Material N/A N/A N/A fiber-reinforced polymer
Case material N/A N/A N/A fiber-reinforced polymer
QuickFit™ watch band compatible N N N yes (22 mm)
Strap material silicone silicone silicone silicone
Physical size 35.5 x 40.7 x 13.3 mm 45 x 45 x 11.7 mm 44.5 x 44.5 x 11.9 mm 47 x 47 x 13.9 mm
Display size 0.93" x 0.93" (23.5 x 23.4 mm) 1.23" (31.1 mm) diameter 1.23" (31.1 mm) diameter 1.2" (30.4 mm) diameter
Display resolution 128 x 128 pixels 215 x 180 pixels 215 x 180 pixels 240 x 240 pixels
Display type sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Weight 37.3 g 42 g 40.2 g 49 g
Battery life Smartwatch Mode: Up to 9 days Smartwatch Mode: Up to 9 days Smartwatch Mode: Up to 11 days Smartwatch Mode: Up to 2 weeks
  GPS mode: Up to 13 hours GPS mode: Up to 11 hours GPS mode: Up to 14 hours GPS/HR mode: Up to 24 hours
  - - UltraTrac™ mode: Up to 24 hours without wrist heart rate UltraTrac™ mode: Up to 60 hours without wrist heart rate
Water rating 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM
Color display N Y Y Y
Memory/History 7 activities 200 hours of activity data 80 hours of activity data 64 MB
Clock Features Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
Time/date Y Y Y Y
GPS Time Sync Y Y Y Y
Automatic daylight saving time Y Y Y Y
Alarm clock Y Y Y Y
Timer Y Y Y Y
Stopwatch Y Y Y Y
Sunrise/sunset times N N Y Y
Sensors Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
GPS Y Y Y Y
GLONASS N Y Y Y
Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor Y Y Y Y
Barometric altimeter N N N Y
Compass N N Y Y
Gyroscope N N N Y
Accelerometer Y Y Y Y
Thermometer N N N Y
Daily Smart Features Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
Connectivity Bluetooth® Smart, ANT+®, Wi-Fi® Bluetooth® Smart, ANT+®, Wi-Fi® Bluetooth® Smart, ANT+®, Wi-Fi® Bluetooth® Smart, ANT+®, Wi-Fi®
Connect IQ™ (downloadable watch faces, data fields, widgets and apps) N Y Y Y
Smart notifications Y Y Y Y
Calendar N Y Y Y
Weather Y Y Y Y
Controls smartphone music Android™ supported; iPhone® not supported Y Y Y
Find My Phone Y Y Y Y
Find My Watch N N Y Y
VIRB® Camera Remote N Y Y Y
Smartphone compatibility iPhone®, Android™ iPhone®, Android™ iPhone®, Android™ iPhone®, Android™
Compatible with Garmin Connect™ Mobile Y Y Y Y
Activity Tracking Features Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
Step counter Y Y Y Y
Move bar (displays on device after a period of inactivity; walk for a couple of minutes to reset it) Y Y Y Y
Auto goal (learns your activity level and assigns a daily step goal) Y Y Y Y
Sleep monitoring (monitors total sleep and periods of movement or restful sleep) Y Y Y Y
Calories burned Y Y Y Y
Floors climbed N N N Y
Distance traveled Y Y Y Y
Intensity minutes Y Y Y Y
TrueUp™ Y Y Y Y
Move IQ™ Y N N Y
Fitness Age N N N yes (in app)
All-day Stress Tracking N N N Y
Fitness Equipment/Gym Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
Available gym activity profiles Cardio Training N N Indoor Rowing, Strength Training and Cardio Training
Cardio workouts N N N Y
Strength workouts N N N Y
Automatic rep counting N N N Y
Training, Planning and Analysis Features Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
GPS speed and distance Y Y Y Y
Customizable data pages Y Y Y Y
Customizable activity profiles Y Y Y Y
Auto Pause® Y Y Y Y
Interval training Y Y Y Y
Advanced workouts N Y Y Y
Downloadable training plans N Y Y Y
Auto Lap® Y Y Y Y
Manual lap Y Y Y Y
Configurable lap alerts N N Y Y
V02 max Y Y Y Y
Training Status (lets you see if you're training effectively by tracking your training history and fitness level trend.) N N N Y
Training Load (your total training load for the last 7 days calculated from estimated EPOC) N N N Y
Training Effect (aerobic) N Y Y Y
Training Effect (anaerobic) N N N Y
Customizable alerts N Y Y Y
Audio prompts Y Y Y Y
Finish time N Y Y Y
Virtual Partner N N Y Y
Race an Activity N N Y Y
Auto multisport activities N N Y Y
Manual multisport activities N N Y Y
Course guidance N N Y Y
Segments (Live, Garmin) N N Y Y
Strava features (Beacon, live segments) N N Y Y
LiveTrack Y Y Y Y
Group LiveTrack N N N Y
Touch and/or button lock N Y Y Y
Hot keys N N N Y
Auto scroll N Y Y Y
Activity history on watch Y Y Y Y
Heart Rate Features Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
HR zones Y Y Y Y
HR alerts Y Y Y Y
HR calories Y Y Y Y
% HR max N N Y Y
% HRR N N Y Y
Recovery time N Y Y Y
Auto max HR N N Y Y
HRV stress test (measures your heart rate variability while standing still, for 3 minutes, to provide you with an estimated stress level; the scale of this is 1 to 100; low scores indicate lower stress levels) N N yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Records heart rate while swimming N N yes (with HRM-Tri™ and HRM-Swim™) yes (with HRM-Tri™ and HRM-Swim™)
HR Broadcast (broadcasts HR data over ANT+™ to paired devices) Y Y Y Y
Running Features Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
Available run profiles Y Y Y Running, Indoor Running, Trail Running
GPS-based distance, time and pace Y Y Y Y
Running dynamics N N yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Vertical oscillation and ratio (the degree of 'bounce' in your running motion and the cost-benefit ratio with stride length) N N yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Ground contact time and balance (shows how much time, in the running motion, your foot is on the ground rather than in flight and lets you check your running symmetry) N N yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Stride length (real time) N N yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Cadence (provides real-time number of steps per minute) Y Y Y Y
Performance condition (after running 6-20 minutes, compares your real-time condition to your average fitness level) N N Y Y
Lactate threshold (through analysis of your pace and heart rate, estimates the point where your muscles start to rapidly fatigue) N N yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Run workouts N Y Y Y
Race predictor N Y Y Y
Foot pod capable Y Y Y Y
Golfing Features Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
Yardage to F/M/B (distance to front, middle and back of green) N N N Y
Yardage to layups/doglegs N N N Y
Measures shot distance (calculates exact yardage for shots from anywhere on course) N N N Automatic
Digital scorecard N N N Y
Stat tracking (strokes, putts per round, greens and fairways hit) N N N Y
Garmin AutoShot™ N N N Y
Green View with manual pin position N N N Y
Hazards and course targets N N N Y
TruSwing™ compatible N N N Y
Round timer/odometer N N N Y
Outdoor Recreation Features Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
Available outdoor recreation profiles N N N Hiking, Climbing, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Jumpmaster, Tactical
Point-to-point navigation N N Y Y
Bread crumb trail in real time N N Y Y
Back to start N Y Y Y
TracBack® N N N Y
UltraTrac mode N N N Y
Elevation profile N N N Y
Distance to destination N YES (for back to start) Y Y
Barometric trend indicator with Storm Alert N N N Y
Trail run auto climb N N N Y
Vertical speed N N N Y
Total ascent/descent N N N Y
Compatible with BaseCamp™ N N N Y
GPS coordinates N N Y Y
Projected waypoint N N N Y
Sight 'N Go N N N Y
Area calculation N N N yes (via Connect IQ™)
Hunt/fish calendar N N N yes (via Connect IQ™)
Sun and moon information N N N yes (via Connect IQ™)
Dual grid coordinates N N N Y
Cycling Features Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
Available cycling profiles Y Y Y Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking
Courses N N Y Y
Bike lap and lap maximum power (with power sensor) N N Y Y
Race an activity N N Y Y
Time/distance alerts (triggers alarm when you reach goal) Y Y Y Y
FTP (Functional Threshold Power) N N yes (with compatible accessory) yes (with compatible accessory)
Compatible with Vector™ (power meter) N N Y Y
Power meter compatible (displays power data from compatible third-party ANT+™-enabled power meters) N N Y Y
Compatible with Varia Vision™ (head-mounted display) N N Y Y
Compatible with Varia™ radar (rear-facing radar) N N Y Y
Compatible with Varia™ lights N N Y Y
Speed and cadence sensor support (with sensor) Y Y Y yes (ANT+® and Bluetooth® Smart sensors)
Swimming Features Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 Forerunner 735XT Forerunner 935
Available swim profiles N N Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming
Pool swim metrics (lengths, distance, pace, stroke count/rate, calories) N N Y Y
Stroke type detection (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly) N N Y Y
Swim efficiency (SWOLF) N N Y Y
Drill logging N N Y Y
Pool swim workouts N N Y Y
Open-water swim metrics (distance, pace, stroke count/rate, stroke distance, calories) N N Y Y
Heart rate (real-time during rests, interval and session stats during rests, and automatic heart rate download post-swim) N N yes (with HRM-Tri™ and HRM-Swim™) yes (with HRM-Tri™ and HRM-Swim™)