Garmin has recently introduced a number of new devices across its Forerunner line. This includes the 45/45S, 245/245 Music and 945. The additions makes the entire range more modern looking and feature packed.
The daddy of the bunch is the 945, an updated version of the 935. It takes everything the other ones can do and slaps on NFC for Garmin Pay, a barometric altimeter, thermometer and gyroscope. Music memory is also larger allowing storage for up to 1,000 songs.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
If you’re serious about your athletic pursuits, you won’t go wrong with a Garmin sports watch. The 945 certainly seems like an attractive option but you may be wondering how exactly it compares to Garmin’s Fenix range. We’re here to help.
General and design
When it come to design, the main difference between the Fenix 5, Fenix 5 Plus and Forerunner 945 is in build. The first two are premium devices put together using more expensive material. The Forerunner 945 is made of fiber-reinforced polymer, while the Fenix devices are built from stainless steel or titanium (depending on which version you choose). This makes them much heavier. The mid range Fenix models weight around 85 grams whereas the 945 comes in at only 50 grams.
The other important difference is that the 945 comes only in one size. The Fenix models come in three sizes each, the regular version, 5S (5S Plus) and 5X (5X Plus). The 5S is Garmin’s first Fenix watch designed with the female sports enthusiast in mind. It sports a smaller footprint for smaller wrists without compromising on any multi-sport features. The Fenix 5X packs even more functionality, but sacrifices the small form-factor.
All watches have excellent water resistance. The Fenix models 10ATM and Forerunner 945 5ATM. Battery life is fairly similar although you will get slightly more miles for your buck from the Forerunner. It will go for 36 hours in GPS mode, compared to the 24 hours you get on the Fenix 5 and 18 hours on Fenix 5 Plus.
The Fenix 5 Plus and the 945 also come with built-in storage and play controls for music. This has enough room for up to 1,000 songs. Plus they have Garmin Pay. You don’t get music or Garmin Pay on Fenix 5.
The final difference in design is the fact that Forerunner 945 comes with a Pulse Ox sensor. This keeps tabs on your blood oxygen, mostly at night although you can take readings on demand during the day. Currently the only Fenix 5 device with a Pulse Ox sensor is the 5X Plus model.
Here’s a table illustrating the design differences between the mid-range Fenix 5 Plus, Fenix 5 and Forerunner 945.
|Fenix 5 Plus||Fenix 5||Forerunner 945|
|Lens material||domed chemically strengthened glass or sapphire crystal||chemically strengthened glass or sapphire crystal||Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX|
|Bezel/case material||stainless steel or titanium||stainless steel||fiber-reinforced polymer|
|Strap material||silicone, leather or titanium||silicone or steel||silicone|
|Physical size||47 x 47 x 15.8 mm||47 x 47 x 15.5 mm||47 x 47 x 13.7 mm|
Titanium version: 76 g
|85 g||50 g|
|Battery life||Smartwatch: Up to 12 days
GPS: Up to 18 hours
GPS and Music: Up to 8 hours
|Smartwatch mode: Up to 2 weeks
GPS/HR mode: Up to 24 hours
|Smartwatch Mode: Up to 2 weeks
GPS mode with music: Up to 10 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 36 hours
|Water rating||10 ATM||10 ATM||5 ATM|
|Memory/History||16GB||64MB||200 hours of activity data|
|Pulse Ox sensor||only 5X Plus version||Yes|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi®||Bluetooth® Smart, ANT+®, Wi-Fi® with sapphire editions||Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi®|
|Plays and controls watch music||Yes||Yes|
|Music Storage||Up to 1000 songs||Up to 1000 songs|
Activity tracking features
These are watches that track everything under the sun. Whether you’re into running, cycling, swimming, other outdoor recreation – they’ll have you covered. Built for those serious about training, all of these come with a multitude of advanced physiological features. So let’s jump right to the differences.
The 945 is currently the only out of the three to have Garmin’s new Body Battery function. Its aim is to help people make better training, rest and sleep decisions. The feature uses a combination of stress, heart rate variability (HRV), sleep and activity data to give you an indication of your body’s energy levels.
Forerunner 945 also has some performance metrics you won’t find on the Fenix devices. This includes heat and altitude acclimation, Training Load Focus and Training Effect labels. It will also track your respiration rate during exercise with a compatible accessory. Oddly enough, the additional performance tracking features make the high-end Forerunner device more feature-packed on this measure than the Fenix devices.
The 945 is also the only of the three to feature Incident Detection and Assistance. When an incident is detected the app will send an automated text message and email with your name and GPS location to your emergency contacts. The watch uses your paired compatible smartphone to do this.
What works in Fenix 5 Plus favor is a few more sports profiles, particularly for outdoor recreation activities. This probably won’t make much of a difference to most.
Here’s a run-down of the differences when it comes to activity tracking.
|Fenix 5 Plus||Fenix 5||Forerunner 945|
|Incident detection and assistance||Yes|
|Gym activity profiles||Strength, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing and Yoga||Indoor Rowing, Strength Training and Cardio Training||Strength, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Indoor Rowing and Yoga|
|Heat and altitude acclimation||Yes|
|Training Load Focus||Yes|
|Training Effect labels||Yes|
|Round-trip course creator||Yes||Yes|
|Trendline Popularity Routing||Yes||Yes|
|Respiration rate during exercise||Yes (with compatible accessory)|
|Available run profiles||Running, Treadmill Running, Trail Running||Running, Treadmill Running, Trail Running||Running, Indoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Trail Running|
|Preloaded with 41,000 courses worldwide, Auto CourseView updates||Yes||Yes|
|Outdoor recreation profiles||Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Kayaking, Jumpmaster, Tactical||Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Jumpmaster, Tactical||Hiking, Climbing, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Kayaking|
|Around Me mode, ClimbPro Ascent Planner, Future elevation plot, Preloaded topographical maps, Downloadable cartography support, XERO Locations||Yes||Yes|
|Cycling profiles||Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking, Triathlon||Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking, Triathlon||Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking|
|Cycle Map (routable cycling-specific street map)||Yes||Yes|
|Advanced Vector support||Yes|
|Speed and cadence sensor support (with sensor)||yes (ANT+® and Bluetooth® Smart sensors)||yes (ANT+® and Bluetooth® Smart sensors)||Yes|
|Swim profiles||Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, Swimming/Running||Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, Swimming/Running||Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming|
Those serious about their athletic pursuits will only want the very best sports watch on their wrist. This is where the top end Fenix devices and Forerunner 945 step in. All of these are feature-packed devices with state of the art technology.
The things that work in the favor of the Fenix 5 and Fenix 5 Plus are mostly to do with design. These are watches built from premium materials including stainless steel and titanium for certain versions. They also come in a choice between three iterations to accommodate wrists of all sizes. The S version in particular, is a great option for women and those with small wrists.
If you’re after more bang for your buck, the Forerunner 945 comes with pretty much everything you get on the Fenix 5 Plus model and even better battery life. Plus you’ll get some physiological metrics that are not a part of the Fenix package as well as the pulse Ox sensor.
The watches can be ordered from Garmin’s website. The Fenix 5 Plus typically sells for $649, Forerunner 945 for $599 and Fenix 5 for $499. This however depends on the version you buy and Garmin and other retailers typically run discounts. You can check the current prices on Amazon on these links (Fenix 5 Plus; Forerunner 945; Fenix 5).
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