Garmin Forerunner 230 Vs. 235

Garmin Forerunner 230 vs 235

Both released in late 2015, the Garmin Forerunner 235 and 230 have maintained their position as one of the top athletic watches currently on the market.

However, they have many similarities and differences which makes a choice between which one to buy a difficult one to make.

Are you trying to figure out which is better for you?


Well, great! We are here to give you a non-biased comparison of these two favorite watches from Garmin so you can make the most educated decision.


Let's start with a quick summary:

Garmin Forerunner 235
Garmin Forerunner 230

GPS - Yes

GPS - Yes

Waterproof - 50 meters

Waterproof - 50 meters

Battery Life - 2 to 5 days

Battery Life - 9 to 11 days

Phone Notifications - Yes

Phone Notifications - Yes

Music Controls - Yes

Music Controls - Yes

Speed/Cadence Sensor Capable - Yes

Speed/Cadence Sensor Capable - Yes

Heart Rate Monitoring - Yes

Heart Rate Monitoring - Chest strap paired only

How Are They Similar?

These two watches are much more similar than they are different. Most of the style and functionality carries over into both watches.

So let's discuss some of those similarities.

1. Weight/Size

Both watches weight around 41 grams and are generally a pretty sleek, thin design. Visually speaking, it's difficult to tell the difference between the two at first glance.

2. Activity Tracking

Both the Garmin 235 and 230 give you the ability to track exercise with 4 activity categories: Running Indoors, Running Outdoors, Bike Outdoors and Other. Also, both watches will also track day to day activities such as steps, calories, distance traveled and sleep. Unlike other Garmin watch models, on both the 235 and 230 you cannot add additional custom tracking options.

3. Supports ANT+ 

When it comes to sensors, the Garmin 230 and 235 both allow for you to connect ANT+ heart rate sensors, foot sensors, and if you're a cyclist, speed and cadence sensors.

4. GPS Tracking

The Garmin 230 and 235 both have built-in GPS tracking to keep a log of your routes when running or cycling.

5. SmartWatch Features

On both versions, you get specific smartwatch features such as text/call notifications. Note - the Garmin app does NOT have to be open to review notifications, however, if you'd like to see things such as weather and calendar reminders, you need to have the app running in the background.

How Are They Different?

Without a doubt, the most significant difference between the Garmin 230 and the Garmin 235 is the 235's built-in optical heart rate monitor.

What You Should Know About The Garmin 235 Optical Heart Rate Monitor


The Garmin Forerunner 235 is Garmin's 3rd watch with the ability to track heart rate without the assistance of a chest strap, following the Vivosmart HR and Forerunner 225.

Previously, Garmin used a licensed optical sensor from Mio. With the 235, they introduced their very own proprietary sensor. Now, I'll be honest; this usually makes me cringe. Nine times out of 10 when a company presents their own optical heart rate monitors, they mess it up. Garmin is the 1 out of 10 that got it right.

When compared with other chest strap and optical heart rate monitors, the 235 held its own. It proved to be accurate during peak activity as well as during comedown and rest time.

Heart Rate Broadcasting

Heart rate broadcasting is a pretty big deal if you have other ANT+ enabled devices and want to feed HR info into them. Otherwise, it's not a feature to make a note of. In essence, this turns your Forerunner 235 into a heart rate sensor for a variety of different devices. NOTE - this does not work with Bluetooth Smart.

What Else Is Different?

​Apart from the obvious, theres one other thing you need to know about the difference between the Garmin Forerunner 230 and 235

Battery life: 

One of the other fundamental differences between these two models of watches in battery life. As expected, with the 235 you have an additional resource draining your battery. If you run your heart rate monitor 24/7, you can expect it to last anywhere from 2-5 days. This wide window is due to various GPS usage. If you are light on GPS, you can expect your watch battery to last a bit longer than if you're using GPS every single day.

The Forerunner 230 has a battery life of 9-11 days depending on GPS usage.

Summary

Overall, I think both the Garmin Forerunner 230 and 235 are an excellent bang for your buck. They have stood the test of time and are still considered to be one of the best athletic watches out there.

The deciding factor between which one is best for you will come down to your preference for having a built-in optical heart rate monitor. Personally, I love having the ability to track my heart rate 24/7. It gives me the ability to judge my overall fitness level and track resting heart rate. If you're like me, then the Forerunner 235 is the choice for you.

However, 24/7 heart rate monitoring isn't for everyone. Since the 230 is slightly cheaper than the 235, if you don't care for that feature, save yourself the $50 and go with the Forerunner 230. You can always purchase an external chest strap monitor for use while exercising or opt for the bundle which includes one.


What do you think?

Let us know what you think of our comparison in the comments section below. If you have any specific features you'd like tested, just let us know!

Which Garmin Forerunner watch is most appealing to you?

If you're interested in Garmin, you may also be interested in our post about the best cycling watches from Garmin (read more).

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Garmin Forerunner 230 & 235
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