Image source: Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs 745: only a few features separate them

After a multitude of leaks, last week Garmin officially unveiled the Forerunner 745. This is an upgraded version of the popular 735XT. The predecessor has been around for more than two years so was in the need of a refresh.

The added features that have been included make the 745 a much more capable device. In fact, they make it not all too different from the Forerunner 945. All that separates them are a few small things. Read on to find out what exactly they are.

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs 745: Design and hardware

In terms of design, Garmin is adopting the same look for its recent crop of Forerunner watches. The differences are minuscule. However in the case of the 945 and 745 there is one important thing you should be aware of – they are not the same size.

The 945 comes with a 47.0mm fiber-reinforced polymer case, the 745 with a 43.8mm one. This might make a difference to some, particularly to those with smaller wrists who found the 945 a bit too large. The 745 is also a bit thinner measuring 13.3mm so .4mm less. The weight has come down, too, from 50 grams to 47 grams. 

The good news is that despite the shrinkage in size, the latest Garmin keeps the screen diameter at 1.2 inches. Which means the company has managed to lessen the bezel around the sides. No-one needs a thick bezel. The only other noticeable difference looks wise are the slightly different colored physical buttons and other color options.

garmin forerunner 945 vs 745 only a few features separate them 2 - Garmin Forerunner 945 vs 745: only a few features separate them
Forerunner 745 next to Forerunner 945

Down below the surface the duo has the same sensors. What’s different, though, is the battery life. The larger size of the 945 allows it to squeeze in a bigger battery which keeps the thing going for up to two weeks in smartwatch mode and 10 hours with GPS switched on. That’s much more than the one week and 6 hours respectively on the 745.

Here’s a table with the all-important specs. The differences between the two are highlighted in yellow.

Forerunner 945 Forerunner 745
Lens material Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
Bezel/case material fiber-reinforced polymer fiber-reinforced polymer
Strap material silicone silicone
Physical size 47 x 47 x 13.7 mm 43.8 x 43.8 x 13.3 mm 
Display type Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Display size 1.2″ (30.4mm) diameter 1.2″ (30.4mm) diameter
Display resolution 240 x 240 pixels 240 x 240 pixels 
Weight 50 g 47 g 
Battery life (base model) Smartwatch Mode: Up to 2 weeks
GPS mode with music: Up to 10 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 36 hours
Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days
GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 16 hours
Water rating 5 ATM 5 ATM
Memory/History 200 hours of activity data 200 hours of activity data 
Sensor GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, thermometer, heart rate, Pulse OX GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, thermometer, heart rate, Pulse OX
Connectivity Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi® Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi® 
Plays and controls watch music Yes Yes 
Music Storage Up to 1,000 songs Up to 500 songs 
Garmin Pay Yes Yes 
Regular RRP $599.99 $499.99

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs 745: Activity tracking and smart features

Both of these watches are very capable multi-sport devices. To start off they’ll more than have you covered when it comes to 24/7 fitness tracking.

The Elevate optical heart rate monitor has a red LED for Pulse Ox data that works even while swimming. There’s now an on-board sleep tracking mode that monitors rest, breathing patterns, total sleep hours and periods of restful sleep.

Where the duo really shines is in sports tracking. There’s a multitude of sports on-board such as such as biking, running, swimming, multi-sport and brick workouts. Each comes with their own metrics and performance data. The 945 has a few more outdoor recreation profiles that include climbing and mountain biking.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

The other addition on the 945 is the inclusion of outdoor navigation features, i.e maps. What you get, instead, on the 745 are basic GPS 

The extra on the 745 comes in the form of a New Daily Workout suggestion feature. This was recently announced on the latest Garmin Edge 1030 Plus and it has now made its way to a watch. Expect other Forerunners to get this soon.

Forerunner 945 Forerunner 745
Golfing features Yes
Outdoor recreation profiles Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Kayaking Hiking, Skiing, Snowboarding, Backcountry Skiing, XC Classic and Skate Skiing, Stand up Paddleboarding, Kayaking, Rowing
Around Me mode, Preloaded topographical maps, downloadable cartography support, compatible with BaseCamp, Projected waypoint, XERO locations. Yes
Cycle Map (routable cycling-specific street map) Yes

Finally, let’s round out the comparison with smart functionality. The only difference in this category is the memory for music storage. The 945 lets you keep up to 1000 songs on the device, the 745 only a half of that. So music lovers that need more than 500 songs on your timepiece, this is something to take into consideration.

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs 745: Verdict

The 945 and 745 are two very similar multi-sport watches, both in terms of looks and specs. Garmin’s high-end features are definitely trickling down to the mid-range devices. The price difference between the duo is not that big, around $100. But considering the 945 was launched last year you can often find it on a discount reducing this gap even further.

The newly launched 745 comes with all of Garmin’s latest fitness and sensor tech. But it is missing a few features as compared to the 945. This includes support for golfing and more importantly it doesn’t have maps. It also comes with half as much storage for songs, and shorter battery life. However, if you find the 945 a tad bulky, the 745 might pique your interest as it is a bit smaller and lighter.

Which means if you want a smaller device on your wrist and don’t need the maps and don’t mind that it has half the battery life, the 745 is a great option. For everyone else, the extended battery life alone might be worth the handful of extra dollars you’ll need to shell out to get the 945.

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