Reviews Garmin Forerunner 735XT - Black & Gray

Garmin Forerunner 735XT - Black & Gray

Be a better athlete today than you were yesterday with forerunner 735XT. This GPS multisport Watch is for athletes who want dialed-in data for training and a lighter load on race day. Wrist-based Heart rate lets you run freer when it's time to toe the line. For advanced running dynamics and other detailed measurements, add a chest strap and train your Heart out. Includes Strava suffer score, activity profiles for running, cycling, swimming and more. The auto multisport feature lets you transition sports with just one button press. Smart notifications, automatic uploads and connect IQ compatibility for custom Watch faces and apps make the 735XT the ultimate smart watch for athletes.

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If you're not into long reviews, the title of this review pretty much sums it up.

I've only had this watch for a week, but researched for months and knew exactly what features I was looking for.

First, my main use cases:
Running, swimming, cycling; but majority running. I used to do Triathlon's but just run and swim now mainly for health (and honestly stress relief). I wanted an activity tracker also and liked the idea of an optical heart rate sensor. Some limited smart watch functionality would be nice also. But definitely waterproof, built in GPS for running, and basic stop-watch functionality and something I could wear 24/7 as a daily watch also.

Watches I was considering:
Apple Watch, Forerunner 235, 735x, Fenix 3 HR, TomTom Mult-Sport Cardio, TomTom Spark, TomTom Spark+Music, Suunto Sparten, Ambit 3, etc. pretty much any of the GPS sport watches, ideally with the optical heart rate. I don't train hard or by heart rate really, and have had the chest straps in the past; just liked the idea of checking my resting heart rate at times and the activity tracker that comes on most of these sport watches.

Also, the Apple Watch was out, unless I went with the Waterfi version (waterproof version of it at @ $600). Of course, as I'm writing this, the new Series 2 Apple Watch was announced which is waterproof and has built in GPS. Which, may have altered my decision. I am an iPhone user, but in the end, regardless, I don't really care for the Apple Watch look and am glad I chose the 735xt.

I was able to visit a local REI and try on all the Garmin devices. I REALLY love the Fenix 3 HR and the style, but I have small wrists (6.5") and in the end, it was just too large. It wouldn't even fit under the cuff of my basic dress shirt, and didn't see myself wearing it to bed to take advantage of the sleep functionality. The TomTom's didn't really look like I could wear them every day as a watch. I did consider the TomTom Spark Cardio + Music as I liked the idea of not having to carry my phone. But then I really decided that I carry my phone not only for the music, but also in case of emergency.

The Garmin VivoActive HR had everything I wanted and cheaper, and even would have liked the idea of having golf (even though I haven't golfed in 10 years), but it's just darn ugly (IMO).

In the end, it really came down to the Garmin 235 vs 735xt. And whether the multi-sport and swimming functionality of the 735 was worth an extra $120. And so obviously I decided on the 735xt. Which I'm glad I did because it works awesome in the pool. For me it just came down to whether or not I wanted to track distance in the pool instead of just time and if that was worth $120.

Here's been my experience with it, using it for 7 days now.

- Looks OK to wear as an everyday watch
- Light (very light, which may also be somewhat of a con for some, see below)
- Pool Swim function counts distance and time (love how you just enter the pool size and it automatically keeps track of the distance, knowing when you make a turn)
- Connect IQ, this is where you can download watch faces, apps, widgets, data fields, etc. I've added a different watch face and use a stopwatch, timer app that I got from the IQ store. I use the stopwatch and timer a lot plus I've added a nice data field for running that shows HR (and color for zone), Pace, Cadence, Time, Distance all on the same screen
- Has some basic smart watch features. Email, calendar notifications, music controls for phone, etc. I really wanted these features in a watch, but have realized since wearing that I just turned them all off. Honestly, I get bugged enough with text and emails and don't need my watch distracting me also. So I just leave it on do-not disturb, as I do with my phone also when I'm running. Although the watch does have a user profile setting where you can set your sleep hours, so it sets the watch to do-not-disturb automatically during these times
- Garmin Connect Mobile App. Pretty good app, full of data and makes it easy to install and customize watch faces. Many watch faces allow you to customize them (how and what data is displayed, basic colors, etc.). It's pretty awesome

- Only con I can really think of is that the Garmin weather widget on the watch is not working for me. I did download a 3rd party weather widget, but it's not as dynamic as the Garmin version and only shows temp (hi/low) for the day. This is apparently common and happening with other users, so I'm pretty sure Garmin will have a firmware or software fix for this sometime soon. And I've tried about all the troubleshooting fixes I could find (e.g. location services, etc.) on the internet and Garmin forums.

Now about the form factor and weight. It is plastic. And this may be a be negative for some. I remember trying on the display model at REI and it felt like a toy. Of course I know these display versions are basically shells and not the real thing, but even the real thing feels a bit like a toy. So if you want a heavy, steel, metal or oversize watch, this probably isn't for you.

The last 2 watches I've worn were a G-Shock GW2310FB-1CR and for about 5 years a Lunimox Colormark Chrono (BO) every day. I like light watches. And for me, this Garmin 735xt is light, comfortable, and even though a bit "plastic" feeling... because I guess it is, it fits my use case perfectly. And if it ever breaks, I'm lucky enough to live about 30 minutes from Garmin's world headquarters and have heard good stories from friends who've taken their Garmin devices out there for service.

Battery Life
The specs say a bunch of different things, 14 hours in activity mode with GPS, 11 days in watch mode (activity tracking, smart notification, etc.) But here's what I've gotten from the first week. From a full charge and daily activity I went about 4 days and it was at 25%. But that's been with me fiddling with the watch a lot.

I did a full charge of the watch on a Sunday. Did 8 mile run on Monday, 1000 Meter Swim on Tuesday, 5 Mile Run on Wednesday, 1000 meter swim on Thursday and by Thursday evening it was about at 25% and in the evening it beeped and said "save power mode", which I wasn't quite sure what that was at the time so I went ahead and put it on the charger. Looking like it's about 10-12% per day with at least a 30-45 minute activity with GPS each day. Keep in mind I have activity tracking, continuous heart rate monitoring, and use the stopwatch and countdown timer a few times during the day also.

I hope this review helps. I researched (and obsessed) for months on which one of these to buy; weighing features style and price. Of course I'm biased now as I purchased the 735xt, but as of yet have no buyers remorse.

So why not 5 stars? I really never give anything 5 stars, but if the weather widget would have worked out of the box I probably would have.

I love this sports watch!

This watch does everything I want from a sports watch, and more! It's also a smart watch so it shows my text messages. I haven't even tried all of the functions yet. I really like the display in that the brighter it is outside, the easier it is to see. I'm not sure what the technology is, but all phones, tablets, etc... should be like that!

I bought this watch AND the Garmin fenix 3 HR watch to compare because I wasn't sure which one I would like better. I actually liked the fenix 3 better and it had a few more functions that I liked, but I simple couldn't get used to the size so I returned the fenix 3 HR and kept the Forerunner 735XT.

I've attached a couple of pictures comparing the two so hopefully it helps your decision on which one to purchase.

I believe Garmin has the best smart sports watches out there and several different options at different prices so no mater what style you prefer in a sports watch, I recommend Garmin.

Having been a long time user of the Garmin fenix 3 and numerous other gps multisport and everything else watches, i have a very good idea what the perfect multisport watch should be like and the fenix 3 is it. But if it's bulky size is a turn off, your best alternative is the 735XT. The 735XT doesn't have all the functionality of the fenix 3, but for triathletes not concerned with the added outdoor functionality like barometric pressure and all the other functions leveraged by the barometric pressure sensor, like tracking floors climbed by the activity tracker, moving from the fenix 3 to the 735XT will be a side move. For simplicity reasons I'm just gonna list the things I miss by moving from the fenix 3 to the 735XT.
Customizable alarms-- the fenix 3 has customizable alarms like picking only select days. The 735XT has daily, weekdays or just once.
The fenix 3 has 10+ customizable pages for each sport. The 735XT has only 4 per sport.
With the fenix 3 you can access the altitude without turning the gps on. With the 735XT you need gps access to see the altitude.
The fenix 3 has programmable hot buttons that allow quick access with a long press to certain features like a plain stopwatch or the Bluetooth. No hot buttons on the 735XT.
The fenix 3 has the ability to download via wifi. No such thing on the 735XT. Although pairing with your phone via Bluetooth works just fine.
The OS on the fenix 3 seems more intuitive than the 735XT.
So why would you get the 735XT you ask. Because it's freakin light. I mean 40g vs the 86g of the fenix 3. With the fenix 3 I was always aware I was wearing a watch. With the 735XT I forget it's on. Especially since I use a Velcro band like The Band.
Also, if you don't mind losing the above mentioned functionality the 735XT should be your next watch no matter how serious of a triathlete or multisport athlete you are. The access to pairing with multiple sensor is there. Ability to pair with multiple power meters, swim metrics etc. and all the other high end functionality required by someone that likes to geek over data. Also, the optical heart rate sensors seems to work fine, but you will still need the heart rate strap to take advantage of the higher heart rate data functions and better hr accuracy.

I bought this watch a month ago and love it! I previously used the Garmin 300 and 400 series watches to track my run. I also owned the Vivofit. This watch does everything my other Garmin watches did plus so much more.
The GPS is on within 10 seconds - usually less than 5. I've traveled a good bit with this watch and it still picks up the signal quickly even when my previous run was over 400 miles away.
The heart rate monitor on the wrist is accurate enough that I do not use my heart strap.
The watch is extremely lightweight and comfortable. I do not always sleep with it on but it is comfortable enough that I can.
The interface with Connect is smooth and generally quick. I had tons of issues uploading my runs from my 410. I assumed it was because my watch didn't have the technology to match the upgrades to Connect. Setting up workouts, loading them to the watch and syncing when complete is fast and easy. My only wish is that the title I give a workout would transfer to Connect when I complete that workout.
The apps are fun. I love the Work It Out app that allows me to do a HIT workout with my watch giving the instructions.
The standard face of the watch is easy to see. The data fields are easy to set up and easy to read.
Smart notifications are difficult to read when indoors. The lighting on the watch is not extremely bright which makes the small font difficult to see indoors. I'm sure this CON is influenced by the fact that I'm 49 and my eyesight is changing. Nonetheless, plenty of active people my age so it would be nice to be able to adjust the background lighting or increase the font.

I've been using this watch for a month now quite intensively so I can offer some personal insights to both Garmin and future prospective purchasers.

The pros:
1) This watch lives up to its merit when it comes to tracking your activity and exercises. I use it mainly for running and I am very impressed with how accurate the metrics are. Paired with the chest strap, I believe this is probably the best kit you'll have on the market today.
2) GPS + GLONASS is very precise to the point where you can see even the smallest deviations in your path (i.e small zigzag because you had to go around a road construction site for example). I always analyze my run after the workout is complete on my smart phone and I can vouch for this, run after run.
3) The chest strap connects very quickly via Bluetooth to the watch, never experienced any drop-outs also seems well built and watertight. I do wash it on occasion and still works fine. running metrics like vertical oscillation and stride are very accurate.
4) Amazing battery life. When you don't exercise, if GPS is turned off, i have to charge it every 4-5 days. Maybe even longer on occasion.
5) Lots of apps and widgets you can download to customize your watch. This can be fun but it's also a source of confusion - see #4 in the cons.
6) Watch is very light to the point where you barely feel it on your wrist.
7) activity tracking is very good especially step counting.

The cons:
1) Don't get fooled by the nice advertising pics you see on Amazon or on Garmin website showing vibrant screen colors and brilliant lighting. The colors are actually very very dim and the backlight is a bit of a joke. You may imagine "Kindle Paperwhite type of backlight" but in reality there's only a single small LED at the bottom of the screen which does not illuminate evenly and is very reminiscent of the old Casio watches of the 80's. This and the muted colors were a bit of a turn off for me. I guess it's all meant to preserve battery life, but I would have honestly preferred less battery life but a brighter screen/vivid colors. For the price you pay for this device I would expect more from the manufacturer.
2) This being my first time experience with Garmin, I found the watch menus to be extremely confusing and very poorly organized. For some settings you have to go 7-8 levels deep and there is no logic to the way things are organized. If you don't use the menus for a week or so and then get back to the watch, you will find yourself at a loss again, fumbling around to find stuff. There is a way to set the watch from the smartphone app, but even those settings don't quite match the phone settings so at times you end up overwriting things you don't want. For example on the watch you can set all the measurements to either imperial or metric individually but on the app there is only a single setting for all, so if I want my weight in pounds because my scale at home is in pounds but everything else in metric system (pace, distance, elevation), then the app will reset this each time. Annoying.
3) Software updates are not reliable. You get a notification on the watch when the new software is available (via your smartphone or when connected to the PC), you follow the onscreen instructions to update, all goes well, but then a day later you get the same notification again to upgrade for the same exact firmware number. You redo it, and then again it happens. So i'm not sure what's going on with the updates. Also some updates have failed, but no reason is given other than retrying again via the PC.
4) Again perhaps due to my inexperience with Garmin, I find very confusing the concept of APP vs WIDGET. Widgets are programs that apparently you can add to certain screens such as the main watch screen or when performing an activity, whereas an APP is just something you run separately and then exit it when done. For instance, I want to have a timer functionality. This in only available as an APP so that means I can't install it on my main screen menu but instead I have to go 3 levels deep in the watch menu to use it. This can be quite annoying if you need to use the timer function often. Also widgets don't all appear in the same place in the watch menu...some appear only in the submenu category belonging to the specific activity for which it's been written for. All in all this is very irritating.
5) Wrist heart rate monitor is not accurate at all. There are constant spikes in levels and sometimes it's completely off the chart. I have compared it the the Fitbit of a co-worker and while sitting down I know my heart rate should be around 60 bpm. The Fitbit immediately showed 62 while Garmin was at 90. I mean how can you even trust this thing? That's why I always use the chest strap when running.
6) Price! You are paying less for an apple or android watch with lots more features and better technology. This price point is ridiculous IMHO.

Verdict: Does well what it's supposed to but lacks in some departments. If you are ok with these caveats, then you won't be disappointed with the rest of its features.

I've been a Garmin user since the Forerunner 305. In my opinion, this is their best device to date for the triathlete. I upgraded to the 735XT from the 910XT. The 735 is light and much less noticeable on the wrist, especially when swimming. The bluetooth sync with the app on my iPhone is easy to use. I like the Vo2Max feature and have found it to be relatively close the real testing I received from a professional. The syncing with the cadence and speed sensors on my back is relatively quick.

One of the features that I like (if you buy the HRM-Tri) is that it will estimate speed and distance on a treadmill when you're forced to run inside. I also find it to be more accurate on pool swimming with respect to lap turns. My 910 would get out of sync after a few hundred meters and count more laps that I'd done. The HRM-Tri and the running dynamics as well as the swimming metric are useful tools.

The battery life is EXCELLENT. I typically work out 7-10 times per week at 1 hour per workout of more between swimming, biking and running. I'm finding that I have to charge the device on the 4th or 5th day, depending. Even after that time, it still has over 50% battery life left or more. I wear this watch 24/7.

The syncing to Garmin connect has been seamless and trouble free. All in all, this is my favorite and most reliable device from Garmin thus far.

Great watch and fitness tool. I don't like the new requirement to use the web-based (online) tool to see your data, but you can still find the older software on some of the sharing sites.
The wrist-based pulse measurement is just as accurate as with the chest strap, except for really short bursts of activity (less than, say, 10 seconds). There are many mods you can download, to change the look and information on the face. The watch is very comfortable. I use the GPS sensing about 3-4 times a week, for about 40 minutes each, and the watch holds a charge for over a week. The watch charges very fast, from a non-data USB port. Garmin tweaks and updates their software pretty regularly, to improve various aspects of the performance. I got the aqua-colored band, thinking I'd only wear the watch when running, cycling, etc. I should have gotten the black band, since I wear this watch all the time.

I gave the Garmin Forerunner 735XT as a present to my husband and he is very much enjoying it. He only uses it for bicycling but he really likes the array of features of this sports watch. He doesn’t wear it for long periods at a time but, so far, using for a couple of hours at a time, he has not had any complaints regarding the battery not lasting or not taking charge efficiently. The only things he says that he doesn’t love about it is that he feels that he needs to handle the watch carefully because he finds the belt fragile, and he would like a brighter display.

For starters I'm fairly active. I try to work out at least 5-6 times a week, and walk 10k steps per day. Watch does a good job in tracking your everyday moving around and transfers that over to your overall fitness goals and caloric burn.

Workouts. Once you get the hang of creating tithe types of workouts you want, the watch works great! I have had only one or two times that it wasn't tracking my heart rate right but like any piece of tech I just turned it off and turned it back on again. Outdoor GPS tracking works great in all apps (app store is pretty great once you sync it with your computer one time) and when you have it on. Indoor tracking is iffy. Fairly accurate for treadmill, indoor biking, etc. The watch (from what I gather) tracks the speed you swing your arms and cadence based on the info you out in for your body. So sometimes it gets a little off on treadmills, from my experience. Swimming works great. I like to throw some swims in the end of my workouts and just switch over. Does not track your heart rate in the water but strokes and calories.

Misc. I like how the watch looks. I have slimmer wrists for a guy and the Fenix was just too big for me. This fits and looks great. I like how it tracks my sleep and steps. Great motivator for everything you do and I use it for everything no matter what you are into. Recommend getting the protective plastic for it. Helps a lot. Watch is very lightweight as well.

One of the best features how it syncs with your phone and the app. App is great and syncing with the phone is easy. Had some issues when syncing to the PC and phone. It is one or the other and you can't have both at the same time. Recommend syncing workouts and apps with your computer when you need too and phone everything else.

Omg I love this watch. I wear it 24/7 minus the short time its on the charger. It's user friendly and just awesome! I bought a collection of varied color wristbands to change out with holidays and seasons as you can change the watch face! Adding a picture of my Halloween theme. I use this for running, was able to add a mountain biking option and strength training. I actually started getting more sleep upon reviewing the sleep averages.

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