Image source: Garmin

Heart rate glitch: Garmin’s 18.22 update sparks user concerns

Garmin has recently released a firmware update (version 18.22) for popular Forerunner models, including the 955, 965, 255, and 265. While the intention was to add new features and improve performance, the update has introduced a frustrating heart rate tracking bug for many users.

Heart rate monitoring malfunctions

The latest update, version 18.22, for Garmin’s Forerunner series promised to elevate the user experience with a plethora of new features and fixes, ranging from seamless multisport transition detection to integrating a sleep coach glance. Yet, amidst this progress, a significant flaw surfaced: a glitch that disrupts heart rate monitoring during physical activities.

The issue manifests as intermittent, significant drops in displayed heart rate readings during exercise. The glitch has persisted even after ensuring proper watch fit and basic troubleshooting steps.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

The problem was noticed during the beta testing phase, raising questions around Garmin’s decision to proceed with the public rollout of the software. Frustrations are running high, as evidenced by a number of threads on the Garmin forums discussing the issue.

User experiences

One user reported a perplexing experience during a run, where their heart rate data inexplicably dropped despite an increase in pace—a scenario that defies basic physiological expectations. This sudden dip in heart rate readings, from what should have been in the range of 180-190 bpm during intense activity to an average of 133 bpm.

Our own testing with the Forerunner 955 mirrors this experience. Sudden inexplicable drops in heart rate during running. The first time we noticed the issue was around a week ago – around the time firmware update 18.22 started rolling out.

Some users have switched to a chest strap to bypass the optical heart rate sensor issue, highlighting its unreliability. A few note that the problem worsens in cold weather conditions.

Awaiting a fix

Garmin has acknowledged the problem, but a fix is yet to be released. However, the company is actively investigating the issue. A Garmin forum moderator has engaged with affected users, requesting permission to examine their Garmin Connect data to aid in resolving the bug.

The extent of the issue, combined with its presence in the beta phase, has put Garmin’s quality control under scrutiny. Until a fix is issued, those prioritizing accurate heart rate monitoring might consider the following workarounds:

  • Chest strap: Opting for a chest strap remains the most reliable solution for accurate heart rate data.
  • Roll back (if possible): Depending on your device, explore rolling back to a previous firmware version. This option may not be available for all Garmin models.
  • Monitor forums: Stay updated on the latest developments by monitoring the Garmin forums and online discussions.

The heart rate tracking issue serves as an important reminder that firmware bugs occasionally do happen. It also highlights the crucial role user feedback plays in helping companies identify and fix problems. Hopefully, Garmin will release a fix soon, restoring reliable heart rate functionality to the affected Forerunner watches.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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