All About Wearable Tech

Garmin Forerunner 735XT Scores Solid 83% Metarating

Very Good

Release date: June 2016
Sports: Running, Biking, Swimming (primary) / 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® 735XT Top Reviews

ReviewerScoreTypeReview Detail
220 Triathlon80ArticleLimited
Bikes & StuffPositiveArticleStandard
DC RainmakerPositiveArticleComprehensive
Geek on TrackNeutralArticleComprehensive
PC Mag90ArticleStandard
Richard Bakare90ArticleStandard
Techy AgentPositiveVideoStandard
The Wired RunnerPositiveArticleLimited
Tom's Guide80ArticleStandard
Trusted Reviews80ArticleStandard

Below is a summary of the key features discussed by sports tech experts in their reviews of the Garmin Forerunner 735XT.

The FR 735XT is, at the time of writing this Metareview, Garmin’s most recent triathlon / multi-sport watch within the “mid-tier” category. It is not a high-end running watch and neither is a budget 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 are likely to still be available for sale 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.

In the case of the 735XT there is no clear predecessor to compare to as this is the first real triathlon watch which can be categorized as mid tier, either by Garmin or by any other manufacturer. Other Garmin triathlon GPS watches have always been high-end models: both the new ones (Garmin 935 or Garmin Fenix 5 Series) as well as older models (Garmin 920 and Garmin Fenix 3).

What Reviewers are saying…

The key point in most reviews is the fact that the FR 735XT combines the best of both worlds:

  • Wrist HR monitor in a light, relatively small watch (just like the Garmin running-only watches) 
  • Full triathlon capabilities (run+bike+swim) including most high-end running, swimming and biking functionalities in a highly customizable framework (like the more expensive multisport GPS watches Garmin 935 and Garmin Fenix 5)

Garmin has found the perfect balance between the casual running watch and the advanced athlete’s companion. It gives more than its cheaper counterpart the 235 and is more user-friendly than the more advanced 935. It is perfect for serious triathletes but can also comfortably be used by people who may just be getting into the sport or who just like to swim, bike, and run

Alexandra Parren, Sundried

The look and feel of the watch has received mixed reviews. Some reviewers claim the watch looks dull and boring. On the other hand, others highlight its light weight, modern look and reduced size which should make it wearable all day and not only for training purposes.

With regards to the wrist-based HRM, there is a unanimous agreement that it is far more accurate than previous versions that Garmin has used in other watches (i.e. Garmin FR 235). Nevertheless it still has its flaws, as Geek on Track has pointed out in an in depth comparison vs. 920XT + strap.

It’s clear that the Garmin Elevate sensor is calculating the average HR and max HR really good. But during the training, if we train by the heart rate zones, the peaks/downs and delays in hr reading are disqualifying it. So summarizing. If you train by heart rate zone and you require the most accurate reading there’s no way right now to rely only on the optical heart rate monitor in the Forerunner 735XT. But if you don’t train by heart rate and the heart rate strap is your nightmare then feel free to use the optical heart rate monitor. But be aware that the reading will not be as accurate as they could with the chest strap HRM.

Geek on Track

The smartwatch-like notifications system has received general praise. The watch shows notifications for calls, text messages, whatsapp and others. The daily activity tracker functionality as well as the overall ease of use of the watch are also well appreciated by reviewers.

Main flaws identified were:

  • Lack of barometric altimeter.
  • Lack of wifi pairing with smartphone, only bluetooth.
  • Short battery life for ironman/ultramarathon athletes.
  • Lack of bike mount kit.

Overall the FR735XT is a pretty darn capable watch in a pretty darn small package. [Compared to] Garmin’s other (more capable) GPS multisport watches, you’re effectively trading size for features. For most folks, that tradeoff will likely be worth it. Yet for others, you’ll want the quick release kit, more accurate altimeter, or longer battery life

DC Rainmaker

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.