Image source: Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs 245: what’s the difference?

Garmin has had a fairly busy few months. Amongst a plethora of new smartwatches it released so far this year are the Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 945.

The first is a new edition of the popular running watch that saw the light of day back in April. The second a multi-sport watch that Garmin unveiled ahead of IFA 2019 in Berlin.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

Both of these are high-quality, feature packed devices that work extremely well. If you unsure which is right for you, read on for a detailed comparison of features and specs.


Garmin Forerunner 945 vs 245: Design and hardware

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Garmin Forerunner 245 | Image source: Garmin

When it come to design, the Forerunner 245  and 945 look extremely alike. They are both built from fiber-reinforced polymer with a Corning Gorilla Glass protected 1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display. The default straps are silicone but these can be changed around for other options.

With so much that is similar, you might be wondering if there is anything that is different. Well, there are a few things.

For starters the physical dimensions are not the same. The Forerunner 245 (and its Music variant) are smaller measuring 42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 (mm). To house the larger battery and additional smarts, the more high-spec 945 comes in at 47 x 47 x 13.7 mm.

Unlike the Fenix range and some other Garmin watches, both of these devices come in only one size option. Those with very slim wrists might, therefore, be better off with the 245.

The bigger form-factor also makes the Forerunner 945 slightly heavier. It weights around 50 grams as compared to the 38.5 grams of the 245.

Both watches have excellent 5 ATM water resistance. This means they will survive down to depths of 50 meters, which should satisfy the needs of most users.

fenix 6 vs forerunner 945 choosing between garmin s top multi sport watches 1 232x300 - Garmin Forerunner 945 vs 245: what's the difference?
Garmin Forerunner 945 | Image source: Garmin

Under the hood there are a few things in the Forerunner 945’s favor. In addition to everything from the 245 (Accelerometer, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo, Elevate wrist heart rate monitor, Compass and PulseOx), it also comes with a Barometric altimeter, Gyroscope and Thermometer.

Outside of that the 945 has NFC for contactless payments and music storage for up to 1,000 songs. The regular variant of the 245 does not come with music storage or controls, but the Music (245M) variant does. It has enough memory for up to 500 songs. Neither of these come with NFC for Garmin Pay.

Another important difference is to do with battery life. The 945 can keep going up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode and 36 hours in GPS mode (without music). The 245 pales in comparison with 7 days in smartwatch mode and 24 hours in GPS mode (without music). This is still perfectly decent, though, if you look at the competition.

Here’s a table illustrating the differences in design and hardware between the Forerunner 245, 245M and Forerunner 945.

Forerunner 245 Forerunner 245M Forerunner 945
Lens material Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
Strap size 20 mm 20 mm 22 mm
Physical size 42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 (mm) 42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 (mm) 47 x 47 x 13.7 mm
Weight 38.5 g 38.5 g 50 g
Battery life (base model) 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
Smartwatch Mode: Up to 2 weeks
GPS mode with music: Up to 10 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 36 hours
Sensors   Barometric Altimeter, Gyroscope. Thermometer
Connectivity Bluetooth, ANT+ Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
Plays and controls watch music Yes Yes
Music Storage Up to 500 songs Up to 1,000 songs
Garmin Pay   Yes

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs 245: Activity tracking and smart features

Both of these are great options for someone looking for a sports watch. They come with most things the average person needs for 24/7 activity tracking, along with a host of performance and physiological metrics to keep data geeks busy.

However, the 945 has some extras you should be aware of. These might make a difference to some, while others will be happy to do without them.

For starters, for some reason the 245 lacks the barometric altimeter of the 945. This means it does not have a floor count which is calculated by computing changes in altitude using atmospheric pressure and feeds into the calorie count.

Outside of basic fitness tracking, its worth emphasizing that the 245 is basically a runners watch whereas the 945 is better for multi-sports. But while the 245 comes with pretty much everything you need to track your running, it does lack some things you will find on the 945.

This includes a few Firstbeat metrics such as Heat and Altitude Acclimation, Training Load Focus and Primary Benefit (Training Effect labels). Not a deal-breaker but these are some nice extras. In total, the 245 has 11 Firstbeat features while the 945 has 18.

As this is a multi-sport watch, the 945 will also have you better covered if you are interested in more than running, cycling and indoor swimming. It comes with additional outdoor recreation features, support for golfing, mountain biking, open water swimming and more. 

When it comes to smart functionality, both the music variant of the 245 and the 945 come with built-in storage for music. The 945 comes with space for up to 1,000 songs, the 245M 500 songs. As mentioned, the 945 also comes with NFC for Garmin Pay.

Here’s the full list of differences.

Forerunner 245 Forerunner 245M Forerunner 945
Floors climbed     Yes
Training, planning and analysis features     Heat and altitude acclimation, Training load focus, Primary benefit (Training Effect labels), Auto multipart activities, Manual multipart activities, Garmin Live Segments, Strava Live Segments, Round-trip course creator (running/cycling), Trendline Popularity Routing, Hot keys
Firstbeat metrics Vo2Max, Training Effect (Aerobic), Training Effect (Anaerobic), Real-time Performance condition, Calories Burned, Training Load, Training Status, Recovery Time Advisor, All-day stress and recovery, Body Resources, Race Time predictor, Respiration rate Vo2Max, Training Effect (Aerobic), Training Effect (Anaerobic), Real-time Performance condition, Calories Burned, Training Load, Training Status, Recovery Time Advisor, All-day stress and recovery, Body Resources, Race Time predictor, Respiration rate Vo2Max, Lactate Threshold, Functional Threshold Power, Training Effect (Aerobic), Training Effect (Anaerobic), Real-time Performance condition, Calories Burned, Training Load, Training Status, Training Load Balance, Workout Labels, Recovery Time Advisor, Quick Stress Level Test, All-day stress and recovery, Heat and Altitude acclimatization, Body Resources, Race Time predictor, Respiration rate
Safety and tracking features   Group LiveTrack
Tactical features   Dual Grid coordinates
Heart rate features (with compatible accessory)   HRV stress test, respiration rate (during exercises)
Golfing features    Yes
Outdoor recreation features   Yes
Available cycling profiles Biking, Indoor Biking Biking, Indoor Biking Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking
Cycling features   Bike lap and lap maximum power (with power sensor) FTP, Cycle Map (routable cycling-specific tree map), Power meter compatible, Advanced Vector support
Available swim profiles Pool Swimming Pool Swimming Pool Swimming, Open-water Swimming

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs 245: Bottom line

Both of the Forerunner 245 and 945 are great options for someone looking for a sports watch. Each of them comes with some healthy upgrades over the previous generation devices.

Similar in design, the 245 has a smaller foot-print and is lighter so therefore more suitable for those with smaller wrists. This is primarily a runners watch which can also track some other sports such as cycling, indoor swimming and some outdoor recreation activities such as hiking, climbing, skiing, snowboarding, rowing, kayaking.

The 945 is a fully featured multi-sport watch. It comes with lots of extras such as additional performance metrics and sports profiles, and almost double the battery life. The thing packs pretty much the best of what Garmin has on offer. The fact that its much more pricey comes as no surprise.

Which means your decision really comes down to whether the extra features and sport profiles of the 945 are worth the extra money. And whether you are happy with its larger form-factor.

The watches can be ordered from Garmin’s website. The 945 will set you back $600. The regular version of the Forerunner 245 costs $300 and the music variant $350. You can check the current prices on Amazon on these links (Forerunner 945, Forerunner 245).

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