Premium Garmin GPS running/triathlon smartwatch with music
You’re an athlete, and this is your watch. The forerunner 945 running watch lets you sync with premium music services to put your songs on your wrist when paired with a compatible smartphone (may require premium subscription). It also offers our most advanced physiological features, including training load balance and more. Also enjoy the convenience of quick, contactless payments solution (available for supported cards from participating banks) from the wrist with Garmin Pay. With full color, onboard maps to guide you on your run, you’ll never get lost during a workout. Wherever you go, built in safety and tracking features — such as incident detection (during select activities), which sends you send your real time location to emergency contacts through your paired compatible smartphone.
- Premium GPS running/triathlon smartwatch with music
- Download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer (may require premium subscription with a third party music provider)
- Performance monitoring features include Vo2 Max and training status with adjustments for heat, altitude Acclimation status, training load focus, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects
- Garmin Pay contactless payment solution (available for supported cards from participating banks) lets you make convenient payments with your watch so you can leave your cash and cards at home
- Full color, onboard maps guide you on your run so you never get lost during your workout
After more than 10 days of use, I now refer to my Garmin 945 as the Garmin “Coach” because it is the closest thing to an actual coach. Although I’ve purchased many products on Amazon over the years, this is the first time I’ve felt compelled enough to write a review. In short, this thing is absolutely phenomenal. However, it’s not for everyone. I’ll explain why later in this review, but first, let’s get to the good stuff. Throughout this review I’ll mostly refer to the 945 as the “coach.” Just thought I should mention that so people aren’t confused.My first Garmin device was the Vivoactive HR. Then I upgraded to the Vivoactive 3. And now the FR945, which is a big jump. The reason I made the leap (after weeks of extensive research) is because I need more granular metrics for my training. With the VA3 I used the stress metric to decide when and how hard to train, which was ok for a while but now I’m training for a major event in combat sports and I need a coach. In the last 10 plus days, the FR945 has been eerily accurate in predicting my performance and recovery requirements. I’ve also learned that my training is unbalanced and may very well account for my high incidents of sports injuries.For example, the body battery and recovery. I woke up one morning with a pretty low body battery after a brutal workout the night before. I also had a terrible late-night meal before going to bed. The “coach” said I had another 18 hours of recovery remaining and suggested an easy or recovery workout. I still felt the previous night’s workout, but I was at least good enough for morning yoga, right? Well, halfway through what is typically a moderate yoga class, my body felt miserable. I struggled throughout the class and couldn’t believe how difficult everything felt. This is the same class I attend twice a week, every week. And my day didn’t get better. I felt like crap the rest of the day. What I really needed was plenty of rest and a good night of sleep. This is a case where I was in one place psychologically and a totally different place physically. This is where injury happens, at least in my case. The “coach” tried to advise me, but I ignored it.Another example, the performance condition. After about 90 minutes of late afternoon drilling, I decided to go for a run. I was pretty pumped and felt great. Yet, the “coach” said my drilling workout was a lot tougher than what I had planned. The training effect was in the “VO2 Max” category with an aerobic effect of 4.1 and anaerobic effect of 3.5. Translation? It was time to chill. Instead, I decided to go on a short 2.5 mile run and to beat my previous time. Then, about 20 minutes into my run this thing pops up on my watch screen called “Performance Condition” with a value of -3. I had no idea what this was and decided to look it up later. Well, I completed my 2.5 miles and beat my previous time by 2 full minutes. But to my surprise, the “coach” suggested a 4-day recovery window, which sounded absolutely ridiculous until I woke up the next morning. Everything hurt and I was exhausted. And I looked up the “performance condition” later that day and smacked myself in the forehead. The “coach” was trying to tell me to stop and get some rest.So, the “coach” has shown me that I tend to do too many hard workouts without enough recovery time in between. Sometimes the mind wants to do what the body is not ready for, but how can you really know? It was mostly guesswork before I bought the FR945. And since I’ve been an athlete my entire life, pushing through pain has always been part of the lifestyle. Now I can finally focus on training smarter, not just harder. The only thing better would be an actual coach who reviews your stats in real time and plans your workouts accordingly. Such a coach costs far more than $600, so I consider the FR945 to be a damn good bargain.Now I will very briefly go over some of the features of the watch1. Battery life – With regular use including all-day activity tracking I get about 7 days. This is even with the sleep pulse ox on for a couple of nights just to try it out. I didn’t do much with GPS during this time but used it quite a bit for music playback and several workouts.2. Music – Next to the advanced metrics, this was a major motivator for the purchase, and it’s fantastic. At first, I had lots of trouble getting my Jabra Elites to work consistently but I think I accidentally fixed it by solving a separate problem. The watch kept crashing whenever I launched the strength app. I saw in the Garmin forum that someone fixed this by deleting outdated .FIT files on the watch, so I decided to do a full factory reset and the strength app stopped crashing. I concluded the problem had to do with me copying data from my VA3 to the FR945. Once I reset and did not copy the data back, everything ran smoothly. Then I noticed the headphones consistently connected as well. However, they still won’t auto connect. Once the headphones are on and I click “connect” from the watch, I have to give the power button on the headphones a single push. Then, they connect and stay connected. So, it’s still not as seamless as other headphones but I’m not sure if that’s a problem with Garmin, Jabra or a mix of the two.There is no music “streaming” though. I use my Spotify account to download the playlists to the watch, which can take a while for a large playlist, but it’s still an awesome feature. The first time I went into the gym without my phone, I was like a kid with a new toy. It was just freakin’ awesome. Some people complain that the sound is not as good as coming from a phone, and this is true but only barely noticeable. The music playback still sounds pretty damn good.3. Wrist HR – It’s awesome for daily activity tracking and all-day HR, but it sucks for any type of gym or strength training workouts. This is true for all devices like this though. But if you’re spending $600 on a watch like this, I suspect you’re also wearing an external HR during workouts. If not, you should.4. Sleep tracking – It’s decent enough for tracking trends but sometimes needs adjusting. Although the FR945 does better than my VA3, I still need to adjust the sleep start from time once in a while. There are also times when it does not calculate my “awake” minutes correctly. For example, it might say I was “awake” during my sleep window for 10 minutes when I know for a fact it was more like 40 minutes. And the REM vs deep sleep I take with a grain of salt. Again, great for tracking trends but I’m not confident in the absolute numbers. So, this is still a good feature but far from perfect.5. Buttons – It took me a day to get used to the buttons after coming from touch screen watches but now I could never go back to touch screens. I lost at least one workout on the VA3 due to inadvertent screen touches. There have also been complaints of the buttons losing their “springiness” and feeling mushy, but so far, I have not experienced this. Maybe it takes more time to manifest itself. However, I use the vibration feedback feature so that each button push gives off a vibration. I suspect this could be a good solution to those experiencing mushy buttons.6. Sports (lots and lots and lots of them!) – There are tons of sports categories on this thing, most of which I will never use. The level of customizable data screens for each sports category is just mind-boggling. There’s is something here for just about everyone. Honestly, this category alone requires a separate review. And configuring activities from the watch itself is very intuitive and user friendly.7. Maps and navigation – I haven’t used either of these beyond playing around with them at home but I have a couple of big hikes coming up. So, I’m really looking forward to trying these out and maybe I’ll update this review.8. Training metrics – This is another one that needs a separate review. The FR945 accurately tells me when to train, how hard or how little, and when to take it easy. It also tells me how long to rest. The training load and training focus features are amazing and will help keep my training more balanced. I haven’t even gotten to the lactate threshold or FTP because I haven’t been using the device long enough for that data to be available yet. And the body battery is so accurate it’s almost creepy. I’ve learned the hard way to listen to it.9. Garmin pay – Set up is really easy but I have not actually used the feature in a store yet. I’ve never been super excited about contactless payments anyway.10. Other stuff – Ok this includes heat acclimation, altitude, etc., etc. So, far I have 19% heat acclimation.11. Look and feel – Despite being jam packed with incredible hardware and a slew of amazing features, the watch is so light weight that I barely notice it’s there. And on top of that it looks great too. Although I liked the VA3, I wanted a more rugged, sturdier looking watch. I can take the FR945 out for a 10-mile hike or just as easily wear it to a business meeting. It has both the sleekness of Bruce Wayne and the utility of Batman.12. Smart watch features – This is not a smart watch. It’s a sports watch with some smart watch features. In contrast, the Apple watch is a smart watch with some sports features. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the smart watch stuff. So, I turned off all smart features except phone calls. While I find it convenient to reject calls without pulling out my phone, the text and other iPhone alerts are just annoying. It would be more useful if I could customize text alerts to receive them only from a select group such as my wife and kids.So, who is the FR945 for? In short, the very serious athlete. If all you are interested in is daily activity tracking, sleep tracking and recording short runs or Zumba classes, get something in the sub $300 range. This watch is for the person who trains for rigorous events such as Spartan races, marathons, triathlons, ultras, serious cyclists, combat sports and so on. In other words, the person who, despite having a day job, thinks about their event for much of the day. They get up to train early in the morning 5 to 7 days a week. They train in the evening and put away ridiculous amounts to calories to keep up. Or if you just want to splurge on a really nice sports watch, go for it. It’s no one’s business. But make no mistake about it. This watch is for serious, data-hungry athletes.This watch is now my daily driver, so I’ll be collecting lots of data and feedback over the next several weeks. If I experience anything significant whether positive or negative, I will update this review. In the meantime, however, I find it difficult to give this product anything less than 5 starts.
Justin Passaro –
I’ve been a Garmin customer for the last four years starting with the Forerunner 235 up to the fantastic Forerunner 935, which I used for the last two years. The Forerunner 945; is not a worthy successor.In fact the 945 is currently on its way back to the vendor as I type this due to a laundry list of both physical issues and software problems so egregious I have to question just what the company was thinking in releasing this in an obviously rushed state.-Lets talk about the elephant in the room: the buttons. The 945 is supposed to have buttons that have a ‘click’ to inform the user that button has been compressed. It’s a satisfying little thing, but it doesn’t work. Now, the 935 also did this but after sometime, that stopped. The button still functioned but the click was gone. In less than two weeks the 945 ‘Down’ button (bottom left button on face) would click sometimes, and then not click and then finally; got stuck in the housing and had to be physically pried out of the unit (using my nails like tweezers to yank it out). The function of the button was also splotchy. Sometimes it worked, others it did not.-The battery life is the absolute worst I have ever seen in a Garmin watch since I began using theese watches. My over 2 years old 935 (which I returned to) is vastly superior. I had a never-ending 1.5-2.2%/per hour battery drain on the watch regardless to what I had running or not running. I ran the straight default settings and had the issue, I turned off sensors (PulseOX,see below), same drain, completely drained the battery hoping this would correct it, did not. I factory reset the watch numerous times and nothing fixed it. Either the software was killing the battery (via bug) hardware (too much of a energy hog, and a massive design flaw) or the physical battery itself was bad. Either way it rendered the watch useless.-PulseOx does not work as intended as of this writing. It seemed to work during sleep, the all day option does not with hours upon hours of missed reports happening. This most likely led to some of the battery drain. I had to force a reading via the widget all the time and even then it took a number of tries for it to work. This was not ready for market.-The optical heart rate monitor and PulseOx stays on while doing a tracked activity if you are using an external sensor for heart rate measurements. Garmin states this is needed for users to use Garmin Pay. Well I didn’t even have Garmin Pay set-up and it still ran. This is an unesscessary battery drain. Could they not just set the parameters to turn these on ONLY when the user is using Garmin pay? There’s also the psychological issue for the user. Is the watch actually getting a measurement from the external strap? Is it coming from the wrist? The watch infrequently would state “external HR connected” while in a tracked activity, but not all the time. A simple icon showing a heart with strap around it would have cleared up the confusion instead of sharing the exact same icon between the external and wrist.This watch was rushed to market and did not build upon it’s predecessor in any way. Garmin put out their luxury line with all the new bells and whistles and clumsily shoveled them onto the 935 successor with obvious poor manufacturing and the same run-of-the-mill shoddy software updates for a new device for the next six months. If you own a 935 and is thinking about upgrading, I’d hold off. If you’re thinking of moving up to the top tier, buy the 935, the 945 is a mess.
The one I received was a SE Asia region, so did not have north america topo maps on it. Garmin support recommended returning. Region should be specified in the ad.
I have found the overall speedier interface, music capabilities, emergency contact alert, improved VO2 max which now takes elevation/heat index in consideration worth the $100 price of admission over the FR935. I have no need for the Garmin pay and have found the pulse ox not worthy of the battery drain. I disagree with Garmin to not include a quick release band for the premium price paid for this watch. I don’t have an issue with the buttons, as some have. Enabling vibration with button push may alleviate some of those concerns. I found no improvement with GPS accuracy, which is overall good in my area with both watches. Satellites are picked up within 15 seconds or so in my area. Both ios and windows Garmin connect software is a data lover’s dream once you get familiar with the interface. Wi-Fi is an underrated feature. I found battery life no better (or worse) than the 935. I don’t have data to prove it, but Bluetooth seems much improved with phone connection, though not flawless with the Jabra elite active 65t earbuds I pair with the watch. I find that I need to wear the watch on my right wrist or there will be intermediate sound issues. I hope that will be alleviated with future software upgrades. Overall, about what I expected after two years of advancements over the 935.
Élisabeth Baby-Cormier –
You will paid for something bad. This seller sell APAC version so it’s version only usefull in Asian. The firmware is not update often and you only can choose few languages. You will loose your time. It’s false representation. Buy it directly on garmin website!
Guy M. –
WARNING- This Garmin has the Garmin Asia software on it, and can not be upgraded to North America. It limits the options for upgrades, etc and you will need to exchange the watch with Garmin for the proper one.I’m coming from the Fenix 5, and this watch is equally AMAZING. I only gave the 3 stars, because of the above issue. Otherwise 5 STARS!!
I bought this watch thinking it would be a nice upgrade to the 935 which has carried me through for 2 years (nearly) flawlessly.I bought this watch for some of the new features, SPo2 and garmin pay seemed like nice things to have. Spotify integration was a lower priority because i primarly use my cell phone to play audible but use the integrated bluetooth controls on my watch to skip forward and backwards while im riding so i dont have to fumble with my phone.The SpO2 feature is hilariously broken/inaccurate. It will typically measure my SP02 at alarmingly low levels
Great watch for runners. I use it on all my runs at the gym or outside. The watch is always able to keep a GPS signal and has changed the way I track my runs.
Ritesh Agarwal –
Delivery: by amazon, before time and perfectPrice: cheapest in IndiaProduct: superb, delivers as promisedI had an apple watch, would not last more than 3 hours with GPS and music. This watch lasts for cool five and a half hours with GPS and musicGPS more accurate, and the data generated overwhelmingMust have… for running enthusiasts
I have had three Forerunner 935 watches. The 935s never gave me an OWS distance inaccuracy. Then, I upgraded to the 945. The first one I had always gave inaccurately long distances for my open water swims. We tried a few things, including changing the GPS mode and Data Recording, with no improvement. Garmin sent me a replacement 945 watch, but the same thing is happening with the new watch. Help!
I loved the data collected by my 935 and it helped change my life through fitness, rest, nutrition and hydration. However, my new 945 gives me even more data and better insight into how I am doing while training, throughout my day, and while sleeping.