All About Wearable Tech

Garmin Forerunner 35 Scores 79% Metarating


Release date: September 2016
Sports: Running (primary) / Biking and Others (limited)
Category: High-End / Mid-Tier / Budget
Metarating based on proprietary weighted average of all experts reviews listed in the table below. Scores: Bad (0-49) / Average (50-64) / Good (65-79) / Very Good (80-89) / Excellent (90-100). Methodology for Metarating calculation explained here.

Garmin Forerunner® 35 Top Reviews

ReviewerScoreTypeReview Detail
Cardio Critic90ArticleStandard
DC RainmakerPositiveArticleComprehensive
Digital Trends90ArticleStandard
Outdoor Gear Lab80ArticleStandard
PC Mag80ArticleStandard
PC Quest80ArticleLimited
Runner Click80ArticleStandard
The Wired RunnerPositiveArticleLimited
Tom's Guide70ArticleStandard

Below is a summary of the key features discussed by sports tech experts in their reviews of the Garmin Forerunner 35.

The FR 35 is, at the time of writing this Metareview, Garmin’s most recent running watch within the “budget” category. It is not a high-end running watch and not even a mid-tier Garmin running watch. As a result when analyzing its price, functionalities and performance you should compare it with models within the same category and price range.

In addition, older models within the same category range, in this case the Garmin Forerunner 25, are likely to still be available to buy at a lower price. Even though older models come with less advanced hardware and software capabilities, they may be okay for your needs and design preferences. And the price differential may make up for the reduced functionality.

What Reviewers are saying…



Mixed reviews on this aspect for the FR 35. Not everyone likes the looks of the Garmin Forerunner 35. For instance Wareable is highly critical on the design:

If anything screams budget on the Forerunner 35, it’s the design. Garmin has shown that it is capable of making a good-looking wearable. Unfortunately, that’s not something you can really say about the 35. It’s the ugly duckling of the Forerunner family, and undeniably a sports watch with its small, square plastic case and thick black bezel surrounding a not-so-super-sharp 128 x 128 resolution monochrome screen


Other reviewers, like Digital Trends, are not so negative on this point and even highlight its “stylish design” and its light weight.


The majority of reviewers agree on one point: the Garmin FR 35 is first and foremost a running watch and it offers excellent running capabilities for a budget GPS watch. The watch is mainly intended for number-driven runners and those who want to have control of its running and heart rate metrics during workouts.

In addition, the FR 35 also offers complete daily tracker activity functionality and has additional capabilities for other sports modes, namely Bike, Cardio, and Walk. Swim is not supported but the watch is water resistant up to 50 meters.

Running functionality consists of two customizable pages with three editable metrics in each of them. The available metrics are: Time, Distance, Pace, Calories, Heart Rate, HR Zone, Lap Time, Lap Distance, Lap Pace, Avg. Pace, and Cadence. All these metrics, including those based on its integrated wrist-based HR monitor, should be more than enough for most runners.

It also has an Interval Workout tool and the possibility to download more complex training structures from your Garmin Connect smartphone app through bluetooth pairing. For more advanced running metrics and / or additional data fields or pages, you should look at higher end Garmin running models like the Garmin FR 235 or multi-sport watches like the Garmin 735XT and the Garmin 935

The Forerunner 35 dials down the functionality of some of Garmin’s more expensive models, resulting in a simplified interface for tracking running and walking without the clutter of multisport features

Competitive Cyclist

For further detail on other functionalities available in the FR 35 like Garmin’s Move IQ, ANT+ connection capabilities, smartwatch features (i.e. call/message notifications and music control) and daily tracking activities, please check any of the available reviews listed above.

Heart Rate Monitor

The optic, wrist-based, HR monitor is based on Garmin’s proprietary Elevate sensor. While it has improved by a good margin since its release a couple of years ago, it is still behind, in terms of accuracy, relative to chest straps. Especially when recording HR readings during interval workouts.

When we introduced some interval running, the Forerunner 35 initially records quite erratic [HR] readings before it settles down and becomes more consistent. While HR average seems consistent, there’s a great disparity with maximum HR. It’s something we’ve found with other optical heart rate monitors where so many factors can impact on delivering reliable readings.


Battery Life

Reviewers are in general quite pleased with the battery life delivered by the Garmin FR 35. Results from real life analysis are pretty much in line with Garmin’s announced stats of 13 hours of tracked workouts (when HR readings are recorded every second and all activity and GPS metrics are available) and nine days in non GPS mode (when daily activity tracking is on and HR readings are programmed to be recorded following a smart adaptative profile).

We hope you will find useful having the top reviews on this GPS watch organized and accesible from a single post. Also we hope you like our proprietary calculation of the metarating for the watch. Metaratings are based on a quality and relevance weighted average of all those reviews. If you want to support our work, simply buy the watch or any other goods you may need from Amazon through the links below.