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Garmin Forerunner 235 vs 245 / 245 Music: what’s new and different?

Garmin has recently refreshed its Forerunner line with a number of new devices. One of these is the 245 / 245 Music, an updated version of the company’s best selling Forerunner 235 runners watch.

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Despite its launch way back in late 2015, the 235 is still selling well. No doubt a testament to its build and quality. Three and a half years is a long time, though, in the world of wearable technology. It’s no wonder the 245 comes with so many extras.

But you may be wondering what exactly is new and different. Have no fear, we’re here to help so you can decide for yourself if the 245 is a good fit you.

For the purposes of this comparison we will write about the Music version. As it’s name implies, the only difference between this and the regular 245 iteration is the addition of built-in storage for music.


Garmin Forerunner 235 vs 245 / 245 Music: General and design

The Forerunner 245 Music is slightly smaller than its predecessor. Its exact dimensions are 42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 mm versus the 45.0 x 45.0 x 11.7 mm of the 235. Coming in at 38.5 grams it’s also 3.5 grams lighter.

The two are quite similar in appearance, but the 245 is more in line with the rest of the Forerunner range. In fact it comes across very much as a blend between the Forerunner 645 and 945. Replace the metal bezel from the 645 with a polymer black one, and you pretty much get the 245.

garmin forerunner 235 vs 245 music what’s new and different e1557433819323 - Garmin Forerunner 235 vs 245 / 245 Music: what’s new and different?
Forerunner 235 | Image source: Garmin

The watch has five buttons once again, with markings (start/stop, back, down, up, last) etched on the screen. The start/stop button now has an attractive coloured line around it.

The 245 features a 1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter, sunlight-readable color display that comes with 240 x 240 pixel resolution. This makes it slightly smaller but better quality than the 1.23″ (31.1 mm) diameter, 215 x 180 pixel screen of its predecessor. The display is more sturdy, too, as it comes with Corning Gorilla glass 3 protection instead of chemically strengthened glass.

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Forerunner 245 | Image source: Garmin

There a few important differences under the hood to keep in mind. The 245 has a pulse oximeter to measure oxygen in the blood, it comes with the new ELEVATE heart rate module, a compass, GPS tracking is improved with support for the Galileo satellite system, and there are now full color maps that help you navigate in unfamiliar territory. Interestingly, both the 235 and 245 lack a barometric altimeter for counting floors.

As mentioned, the 245 Music variant also comes with built-in storage and play controls for music. This has enough storage space for up to 500 songs.

Both watches have excellent 5 ATM water resistance although only the 245 tracks swimming. The bad news is that battery life has not improved. In fact, the additional specs mean the 245 will run 7 days between charges in normal mode, which is 2 days less than its predecessor. GPS mode has improved quite a bit, though. The watch will go for up to 24 hours with GPS switched on, a big improvement on the 11 hours of the 235.

Here’s a full run-down of the differences in design.

Forerunner 235 Forerunner 245 Forerunner 245 Music
Lens material Chemically strengthened glass Corning Gorilla glass 3 Corning Gorilla glass 3
Bezel material Fiber-reinforced polymer Fiber-reinforced polymer
Quick Release Bands Yes (20 mm, Industry standard) Yes (20 mm, Industry standard)
Physical size 45 x 45 x 11.7 mm 42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 mm 42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 mm
Display size 1.23″ (31.1 mm) diameter 1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter 1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter
Display resolution 215 x 180 pixels 240 x 240 pixels 240 x 240 pixels
Weight Up to 9 days in watch mode; up to 11 hours in GPS mode with HRM Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days; GPS mode: Up to 24 hours Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days; GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours; GPS mode without music: Up to 24 hours
Galileo Yes Yes
Compass Yes Yes
Pulse Ox Yes Yes
Connectivity Yes Bluetooth®, ANT+ Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android™ only) Yes Yes
Music storage Up to 500 songs
Plays and controls watch music Yes

Garmin Forerunner 235 vs 245 / 245 Music: Activity tracking features

The 245 is primarily built for casual and semi-serious runners although it also doubles up as an everyday fitness tracker. Its performance analysis includes VO2 max, aerobic and anaerobic training effects, the new Body Battery function, recovery time and training status. If you need a training partner, Garmin Coach allows you to choose between 5K, 10K, and half-marathon plans.

Furthermore, the 245 connects to external sensors such as running dynamics pods and heart-rate chest straps to capture even more data. All of this additions make it a much more powerful running watch.

In addition to running, the 245 tracks strength workouts, cycling, swimming and outdoor recreation activities (hiking, climbing, skiing, snowboarding, rowing, kayaking and more). Forerunner 235 has very little to offer in terms of additional sports profiles.

An interesting addition to the 245 is incident detection. When an incident is detected the app will pair with your smartphone to send an automated text message and email with your name and GPS location to your emergency contacts.

Here are the activity tracking differences.

Forerunner 235 Forerunner 245 Forerunner 245 Music
Safety and tracking features (Incident detection) Yes Yes
Move IQ™ Yes Yes
Fitness age Yes (in app) Yes (in app)
Body Battery™ Energy Monitor Yes Yes
All-day Stress Tracking Yes Yes
Available gym activity profiles Strength training, Cardio training, Elliptical training, Stair stepping, Indoor rowing and Yoga Strength training, Cardio training, Elliptical training, Stair stepping, Indoor rowing and Yoga
Configurable lap alerts, Training Status, Training Load, Training Effect (anaerobic), Virtual Partner, Race an Activity, Course guidance, Physio True Up Yes Yes
Available run profiles Yes Running, Treadmill running, Indoor track running, Trail running Running, Treadmill running, Indoor track running, Trail running
Running dynamics Yes (with compatible accessory) Yes (with compatible accessory)
Outdoor recreation features Yes Yes
Available cycling profiles Yes Biking, Indoor biking Biking, Indoor biking
Compatible with Varia Vision, Radar, Lights Yes Yes
Swimming features Yes Yes

Garmin Forerunner 235 vs 245 / 245 Music: Verdict

The Forerunner 235 has long been the watch of choice for runners. The 245 is its worthy successor.

The new device takes all that is loved about its predecessor and upgrades it with a pulse oximeter, the new heart rate module, a compass, Galileo satellite support, and full color maps that help you navigate in unfamiliar territory. The Music variant also comes with built-in storage for music.

You get quite a bit more in terms of performance stats, as well. Body Battery, Stress tracking, Training Status, Training Load, Training Effect and more. And let’s not forget all the additional sports profiles.

If you’re in the market for a new runner’s watch, its a no brainer – go for the 245. The price difference is negligible if you take into account all the additional functionality. We also can’t help but recommend upgrading if you’ve had the 235 for a few years.

The 245 and 245 Music can be ordered from Garmin’s website. The regular variant will set you back $299.99 and the music version $349.99. Both are available in a choice between White, Black, Aqua, Slate Gray and Berry colors. The watches are also available on Amazon (check price).

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