Having owned the Forerunner 110, Forerunner 305, I was ready to step up to something that included more features. I wanted a GPS running watch that included the ability to track swimming metrics and built in Heart Rate monitoring. So here’s my Garmin 735xt review after using it for 6 months.
Of course I could have also gone with the Vivoactive, which I did considered as it had swimming metrics which is what I really wanted. Plus it had Golf functionality that was attractive.
The Reason I Did Not Choose the Vivoactive or Vivoactive HR
The Vivoactive had all the activities that I wanted, but didn’t feel it was the correct style, plus it doesn’t have built in Heart Rate capabilities. Even though it has gotten some pretty good reviews, I like the round, traditional style of the Forerunner series.
Since I wanted HR data, the Vivoactive HR would seem like the obvious choice, and much cheaper than the 735xt, however the size and shape is just terrible. I wanted something I could wear to work, with a dress shirt and let’s face it, the Vivoactive HR just doesn’t look good (in my opinion).
So that left me with either the 620, 235, or 735xt.
Why I Chose the Forerunner 735xt Over the Forerunner 235
I wanted built in heart rate monitoring which the 735 & 235 both have, but at approximately $170 more, the 735 one extra feature I wanted; swimming.
Even though I haven’t competed in any triathlons for the last couple of years, I wanted a watch that would allow that if I ever choose to get back into the sport. Plus, I still pool swim 1 or 2 days a week to break up my running routine. So for that reason, the swimming function, I chose the 735xt.
I have yet to use the 735 on an open water swim, but for my purposes, I’m sure it will work fine. Since my swimming at this time is comprised of mostly pool swims, it’s worked perfect for me so far. You can set the pool distance, mine is 50 meters, and it tracks laps, distance, time, and SWOLF.
“SWOLF is an abbreviation for “Swim Golf” and is a score obtained by adding together the number of swim strokes per pool length, and the time it took to swim that length. For instance, 30 seconds and 10 strokes to swim the length of a pool will equal a swolf score of 40. A lower score is better, just as in golf.”
|Pedometer Type||Digital 3-axis Accelerometer|
|Tracks Calories Burned||Yes|
|Heart Rate Sensor Type||Wrist-based|
|Average Heart Rate||Yes|
|Heart Rate Target Zone(s)||Yes|
|Pool Lap Recognition||Yes|
|Water-Resistant Depth||50 meters|
|V02 Max Estimate||Yes|
|Stopwatch||Yes (with app install)|
|Battery Type||Lithium Ion|
|Average Battery Life||Watch mode: 11 days; training mode: 14 hrs.; UltraTrac mode: up to 24 hrs.|
|User Replaceable Battery||Yes|
|Display Size||1.23 inches|
|Smart Device Notifications||Yes|
It’s important to mention that I almost purchased the Fenix 3 HR, which is a sweet ass looking watch with a ton of features. It has an actual altimeter in it (whereas the 735xt uses GPS for elevation which isn’t quite as accurate). But at over $500 it’s expensive, and for my small 6.5” wrists, it was just way too big. I tried it on at my local REI and it wouldn’t even fit under the cuff of my dress shirt.
One cool feature of the newer Garmin watches is the Garmin IQ App Store, which allows you to install all sorts of custom apps and watch faces. I’m currently running the Digic Watch face, which you see in my photos. You can also see in my photos the wear and tear it’s taken over the past 6 months. Especially on the silicone band. But I do love the band, it’s really soft and you can get replaceable bands for the 735XT in various colors.
Smart Watch Features
It’s important to note that if you’re looking for a smart watch, you may consider something else. Yes, the 735xt does have smart watch features which include email and text notifications and the ability adjust music control for a connected (bluetooth) device like an iPhone. But they’re not the greatest. Originally I was really looking forward to the smart watch features, but since have disabled all of the notifications and leave it on “do not disturb” the majority of the time. I get enough notifications from my phone, and especially when running, I don’t want it vibrating every-time I get an email or text message. YMMV.
Pros & Cons
Pros: Love the size, weight, running and activity tracking functions, and durability. I also really enjoy the sleep tracking feature with the Garmin Mobile Connect app. Maybe it’s common knowledge, but in order to view the data in the best way, you have to install and run the Garmin Mobile Connect app on your phone; which it connects to via bluetooth. The weather app/widget is really nice as well… when it works.
Cons: The only con I can come up with, is the weather widget doesn’t work the best all the time. You have to open the Mobile Connect app on your phone and sync it pretty often for the weather widget to work properly. But I just leave the Garmin app open all the time in the background on my iPhone 6. I also learned that you need to have location services turned on for the app to pull weather data as it uses your GPS location.
In summary, this watch is perfect for me, and after 6 months I still love it as much as the day I bought it and wear it 24/7.