Garmin Forerunner 245 review: the best running watch for most runners

The Garmin Forerunner 245 offers plenty of useful features for runners of all abilities and workouts of all kinds

T3 Platinum Award
Garmin Forerunner 245 review
(Image credit: Garmin)
T3 Verdict

The Garmin Forerunner 245 is a well-built yet light running watch that represents the perfect balance between price and functionality. The updated Elevate optical heart rate sensor and the on-board GPS chip are precise and features such as the adaptive Garmin Coach can really help you get better at running

Reasons to buy
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    Good build quality

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    Fast and precise GPS chip

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    Precise heart rate tracking (for a wrist based sensor)

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    Plenty of running and casual features

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Small screen can only display three real-time data fields

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    Polymer case is sturdy but feels a bit cheap

This Garmin Forerunner 245 review will prove what millions of runners already know: it’s a great running watch. I'm yet to come across a Garmin watch I don't like but of all the Garmin wearables I tried, the Forerunner 245 is still the best value-for-money running watch, walking the very thin line of being affordable all the while not cutting too many corners.

For the price, the Garmin Forerunner 245 offers quite a lot of features for both athletes and casual users alike. For runners who would like to use it to get better at running, the Garmin Coach compatibility will come in handy and they will also appreciate the updated Elevate heart rate sensor and the quick GPS chip. The Forerunner 245 is also capable of estimating VO2 max levels and training status too.

More casual users will appreciate the Body Battery feature that tracks the user's "body energy levels", the menstrual tracking, the Pulse OX feature that estimates  blood oxygen saturation (especially while you sleep) and the long battery life.

We also have reviews of the Garmin Forerunner 945, Garmin Forerunner 745, Garmin Enduro and Garmin Instinct Solar. In case you would like to do a bit more research before making a purchase.

Good news, everyone: the Garmin Forerunner 245 won 'Best Running Watch' prize at the T3 Awards 2021, second year in a row!

Garmin Forerunner 245 review

(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Forerunner 245 review: Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 235

Should you buy the Forerunner 245 if you own a Forerunner 235? Our recommendation is yes, you should, as the Forerunner 245 has been significantly improved since the release of its predecessor. The Garmin Forerunner 235 is still a decent running watch but the hardware improvements in the Forerunner 245 have made it the must-have running watch for people running in 2020.

The Garmin Forerunner 245 has improved on many key features compared to the Forerunner 235. For instance, its battery lasts more than twice as long  (11 hours with the FR 235 as opposed to a whopp24 hours with the FR 245 in GPS mode, although this reduces to 6 if you get the 245 Music and use it as a Bluetooth music player as well. 

Also, the screen has higher resolution: the Forerunner 245 sports a 240 x 240 pixels screen while the Forerunner 235's resolution is only 215 x 180 pixels. Better still, the younger Forerunner also weighs less than the old one (FR 245 – 38.5g, FR 235 – 42g).

The Garmin Forerunner 245 uses Garmin's updated Elevate heart rate sensor which we found to be way more precise and reliable than the Forerunner 235's optical heart rate sensor.

Garmin Forerunner 245 review

(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Forerunner 245 review: build quality and ergonomics

The Garmin Forerunner 245 is a light running watch. It is also rather small, just over 40 mm in diameter, so even if you are not used to wearing watches during your runs, the Forerunner 245 won't bother you or weigh your arms down.

As mentioned above, the Forerunner 245 has a higher resolution screen on a more compact and lighter body than its predecessor. The 240 x 240 pixel memory-in-pixel display is sunlight-visible and easy to read, whether in bright sunlight or overcast gloom.

All the tech is cradled into a fibre-reinforced polymer case and hidden under a crack- and scratch-proof Corning Gorilla Glass 3 lens. The strap is made of silicone and since the Forerunner 245 is water rated to 5 ATM, you can wash the sweat off it in the shower without having to worry about ruining your watch.

The Garmin Forerunner 245 is not a touchscreen watch – unlike the fully touch-enabled Polar Ignite. Instead it is controlled with the five push buttons around the edge of the case which is a better mode of control, to be quite honest. If you've used a Garmin watch before, using the Garmin Forerunner 245 won't be all that difficult to get used to but even if you haven't, the button layout is very ergonomic, especially if you are right-handed.

Although the watch is well-built, the combination of lightness and polymer (a.k.a plastic) case doesn't radiate a quality feel. That said, the Forerunner 245 in no way feels cheap or flimsy. Sure, it feels less sturdy than the Garmin Forerunner 945, but that's twice the price of the Forerunner 245.

Garmin Forerunner 245 review

Further features can be utilised using the Garmin Connect app (including the adaptive Garmin Coach)

(Image credit: Future)

Garmin Forerunner 245 review: features and user interface

As in the case of all Garmin smartwatches, the interface of the Garmin Forerunner 245 is highly customisable: you can tailor the watch face, the activities list (even the activities themselves), the widget layout, controls, sensors or anything you can thing of.

It might not be the most feature-packed Garmin watch but the Garmin Forerunner 245 still has loads of features and having access to the most important ones can save you time, especially if you are trying to work out. In the quick access menu, you can gain access to all the main features, including music, notifications and more, by a press of the button.

Pro tip: you can access the main menu of the Garmin Forerunner 245 by long-pressing the middle (up) button on the left, while the quick access menu will become visible by long-pressing the top (light) button on the left.

The Garmin Forerunner 245 includes the 'Training Status' feature which gives you an estimate of your VO2 max as well as suggesting recommended recovery times after workouts. The Training Status also offers you a 'Race Predictor' view where it estimates your race times, based on your performance and fitness levels.

The Garmin Forerunner 245 has a few features which might appeal to more casual fitness watch wearers: keep an eye on your stress levels and the status of your 'Body Battery', which scores your energy level from 0-100 and is based on how much you rest/exercise.

The new PulseOx feature is also included here: the Garmin Forerunner 245 uses "a non-invasive method to measure the saturation of oxygen in the bloodstream". Should you want to track that too.

Being a connected smartwatch, the Garmin Forerunner 245 also supports smart notifications and it also counts the basic stats, like steps taken and calories burned, like any other fitness wearable.

For those who hate carrying a phone on their runs, but do like a bit of motivational soundtracking, we recommend the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music. With on-board Spotify playlist storage and six hours of battery life with GPS, pulse tracking and music, all you need add is a pair of the best running headphones for a light and smartphone-free running experience.

Garmin Forerunner 245 review

(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Forerunner 245 review: activity tracking and precision

The Garmin Forerunner 245 can connect to three different satellite systems: GPS, Glonass and Galileo. The watch picks the signal up quickly and doesn't lose it as you exercise outdoors. I tested the Forerunner in an urban environment so I can't tell if it would perform equally as good in rural areas, although I suspect it might.

When testing the Garmin Forerunner 245, I tried doing unusual patterns, like sprints back and forth and going off the road to see if the GPS can keep up with me but it did and upon examining the map view of the run in the Garmin Connect app, I could see the little zig-zag pattern on my virtual snail-trail.

The heart rate sensor is pretty accurate for a wrist-based device. It's essentially the same optical sensor that's being used in the Fenix 6/Forerunner 945 and thats precise enough for most uses, especially for HR averages. If you want even more accurate readings, you might want to get a heart rate monitor.

The Garmin Forerunner 245 has plenty of sport profiles straight out of the box, including Running, Treadmill running, Indoor track running, Trail running,
Biking, Indoor biking, Swimming, Strength training, Cardio training, Elliptical training, Stair stepping, Indoor rowing and Yoga. Plenty to choose from.

Data fields-wise, the Garmin Forerunner can only show three at the time but you can find more information by scrolling through the different screens using the navigation buttons on the side. For comparison, the high-end Garmin Forerunner 945 and the Fenix 6 Series can display up to six data fields on one screen. As with those watches, you can change what is shown in each set of data fields, so you get the info you want with less effort.

Garmin Forerunner 245 review

(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Forerunner 245 review: verdict

Who is the Garmin Forerunner 245 for? Given the affordable price point, the number of features for both recreational and hardcore runners and the top-notch tech, the Garmin Forerunner 245 is a great choice for runners of all abilities.

Thanks to its small and light hardware, it will sit well even on smaller, bonier wrists and won't weigh anyone's arm down with its sub-40 gram weight either. The compact form factor does come with its compromises: the 240 x 240 pixel screen only supports up to three data fields on the screen so if you prefer more real-time data when you run, opt in for larger models such as the Forerunner 945 or even the Fenix 6.

The Garmin Forerunner 245 is probably the best choice for beginner runners who are just about to upgrade from a fitness tracker or a fitness smartwatch to a proper running watch. The advanced running metrics and the Garmin Coach feature can help these runners to run faster and more efficiently and to get ready for their first longer race.

Garmin is continuously rolling out new updates for their new watches and you can expect the Forerunner 245 to get even more precise, capable and feature-packed as time goes by. For the price, it's as unbeatable as Kipchoge in rocket boots.

For a completely phone-free running experience, I recommend going with the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music which has built-in memory for music storage and Bluetooth connectivity to connect directly to a compatible pair of running headphones.

Garmin Forerunner 245 review: also consider

Although it's marketed as a direct competition for the Forerunner 55, the COROS Pace 2 can also took on a fight with the Forerunner 245 if it has to. This lightweight running wearable has some impressive features, such as measuring running power on the wrist, which makes the Pace 2 almost irresistible to runners on a tight budget.

Another light running watch that also happen to be great for triathlons is the Polar Vantage M2. It has precise sensors and robust recovery features that will enable you to train harder and more efficiently. And unlike the Polar Vantage V2, it hasn't got a touchscreen so the navigation is similar to the Forerunner 245.

Matt Kollat
Matt Kollat

Matt is a fitness fanatic (a.k.a. fitness and nutrition writer) who's been rambling on about all things health and fitness for over two years now here at T3. His achievements include a short-lived fitness podcast called Fit Mentality Podcast and being a judge on the Fit&Well Awards 2021. In his free time, he works out at home, runs, cycles and loves a good ol' walk around the city. He writes about general fitness stuff, fitness tech, workouts, workout gear/equipment, nutrition and much, much more.