Today Garmin announced their latest triathlon/multisport…and running-specific focused watch, the Forerunner 935. This watch follows almost a year following the FR735XT was announced last spring, and only three months following the Fenix 5 series was announced in January (which just started shipping the other day).
So what’s the FR935 about? Well the bottom line is it’s a cheaper version of the Fenix 5, with a plastic shell instead of metal. Basically – it may be named the Fenix 5P – for Plastic. It’s got a barometric altimeter (and WiFi!) that the FR735XT lacks, and in addition adds in things such as the brand new Training Load/Recovery features within the Fenix 5, along with Bluetooth Smart sensor support. Not forgetting support for the also just announced Running Dynamics Pod (RD Pod). Finally, in addition, it adds in the just announced TrainingPeaks workout synchronization app, enabling you to sync workouts from TrainingPeaks to your watch (including other devices).
I’ve been using the FR935 for a good while now, and so have had the opportunity to put it to use across numerous sports and workouts. As the first couple of weeks were on beta software, the previous few weeks have already been on what’s considered release candidate/final production firmware. As always, once finished with this review, I’ll send the loaner/test unit back again to Garmin and venture out and get my very own through normal retail channels.
With that – let’s dive involved with it!
As noted in the intro, in lots of ways the FR935 is actually a Fenix 5 in a different skin. It’s got a near-identical interface, save a few minor tweaks the business is tinkering with to simplify an individual experience (but more on that later). In conditions of functionality though, it’s basically a Fenix 5. I’ve been through the menus hand and hand (see video below), and everything is identical to a Fenix 5. Everything.
Still, there are several notable features that are not used to today, which are also arriving at the Fenix 5/Chronos series, they are:
Running Dynamics Pod: Sensor pod compatibility added (simply the Garmin Running Dynamics metrics, however in a tiny wearable pod, also to be appropriate for FR735XT/Fenix 5/Chronos)
TrainingPeaks pre-installed on the FR935, available these days on numerous other devices via Connect IQ
Training Status/Load/effect metrics: They are new, supplied by FirstBeat, also seen on Fenix 5 series and includes split of aerobic and anaerobic training effect.
Still, imagine if you’ve been sleeping the previous few months and skipped the complete Fenix 5 series? How would the brand new features look when compared to FR735XT of this past year? Well, everything above, in addition to the below:
Barometric Altimeter: Added it, 735XT didn’t own it and only had GPS-based elevation
WiFi: Added it to 935, 735XT didn’t own it, and only half of Fenix 5 series has it
Display: Up to 240×240 pixels, identical to the Fenix 5
Display: Went from 16 colors on the FR735XT to 64 colors on the FR935
Display: Now supports Emoji, to left languages (Arabic and Hebrew)
Charging Cable: Identical to Fenix 5 series, may charge mid-activity, but wrist blocks it a bit
Connect IQ: Fully supports CIQ 2.2.3+, in addition to a full 2MB for programs or 32 installed CIQ apps/items, whichever comes first.
Battery: Increased battery life up to a day in GPS at 1-second sampling
Battery: Increased UltraTrac battery life to 50 hours
Gyroscope: Added Gyroscope to all or any models, used to improve track points in UltraTrac mode
INTERFACE: Slight tweaks to UI to complement Fenix 5/Chronos series
INTERFACE: Added new fast access controls menu, to gain access to apps/widgets, to complement Fenix 5 series.
Strava: Added Strava Live Segment support for Bike & Run
Sensors: Added support for Bluetooth Smart sensors (Cycling Power/Speed/Cadence, Running Footpod, HEARTRATE)
Sensors: Added Varia Vision Heads Up Display Support (all ANT+ remote displays technically)
Sensors: Added Varia Bike Lights (all ANT+ lights technically)
Sensors: Added Varia Bike Radar
Sensors: Added Shimano Di2 Shifting, ANT+ Gear Shifting Support (SRAM RED eTAP & Campagnolo EPS)
Sensors: Added ANT+ Muscle Oxygen Sensors (MOXY/BSX)
Optical HR Sensor: Revamped tech, now records 24×7 data every 1-2 seconds
Optical HR Sensor: Flattened out a lot more, nearly flush with back of unit
Training Data: Added FTP Estimation for cycling
Training Data: Now supports swimming PR’s (along with previously added Swim Structured Workout support), just like the FR735XT/Fenix5, but unlike some older tri watches
Live Group Tracking: Added just like the Fenix 5 models, à la the Edge 820 group tracking
Straps: Appropriate for the QuickFit straps, especially the Garmin Fenix 5 kinds (not the 5S/5X), such as for example leather/metal/etc…
Golf: Added TruSwing, Greenview, and Autoshot features
Other Sports Added: Mountain Biking, Treadmill and Indoor Track separated, Ski and Snowboard separated, Navigate app, and Track Me app
Navigation Functions: Full navigation identical compared to that of the Fenix 5 series. Which includes things such as proximity and navigation alerts (for distance to waypoint, and time/distance remaining to destination). Note, there are no maps just like the Fenix 5X units.
Phew – got all that?
Still confused? Sorry, it happens to the very best of us. The good thing is I’ve got a video below explaining everything! Go forth and revel in!
Oh – and you could be wondering why they dropped the ‘XT’ off the finish of the state watch name (i.e. not the FR935XT). The reasoning is twofold. First they didn’t want to place off the running side of the home, thinking it wasn’t for them (since it’s basically what persons wanted in a fabled FR635). They feel just like it’s an equally great option for runners or triathletes. Second is that they figured most triathletes would know from the original ‘9’ in the series (i.e. 910/920/935), that it had been still a triathlon watch. And if you didn’t find out about the ‘9’ part, you almost certainly didn’t find out about the XT part anyway. 😉
With that, let’s move onto some sizing!
Model and Size Comparisons:
Just like the FR735XT, the FR935 will come in one size, but a few two-band variants. There’s the bottom unit, which is black with a barely obvious silver trimming/button, and there’s the bundle unit which can be black but with a neon yellow trim/button and a second yellow strap. Through the entire review you start to see the bundle variant, with the yellow strap since I was mostly too lazy to improve it to the black strap. So, both options are:
Base unit ($499USD): Black watch face with silver accent and black band, charging cable
Bundled unit ($649 USD): Black watch face with yellow accent and black band, additional yellow band, charging cable, HRM-TRI HR strap, HRM-SWIM HR strap, quick release kit.
Remember that I don’t have an unboxing to talk about at the moment, because the unit I was sent came in a straightforward plastic baggie with just the charging cable and a supplementary band. In addition to the charging cable.
Once I get yourself a proper box, I’ll add the unboxing back to this review. Given what Garmin contained in the Fenix 5 boxes, don’t expect any other thing more than everything you see above, and also a few bits of legal paper letting you know never to do anything stupid with it, along with how exactly to put the band on. Pretty standard stuff.
What is notable this is actually the band though. Within the box it doesn’t include Garmin’s new QuickFit bands seen on the Fenix5, but instead a typical screw-in band.
That’s a lttle bit of a bummer, the glad tidings are that the QuickFit bands remain appropriate for the FR935. Specifically with leather, metal, and other silicone band colors. Basically, what we saw on the Fenix 5. Note, that I tried the Fenix 5 bands (the middle-sized ones) plus they fit just fine. The 5X bands will be too large, and the 5S bands too small.
With that, let’s look at sizing between your FR735XT, the FR935, and the Fenix 5 series (and also a Fenix3 thrown in):
As you can plainly see, sizing-wise the FR735XT and FR935 are pretty similar, nevertheless the FR935 is slightly larger – by a few millimeters in diameter, albeit identical comprehensive.
Finally, the FR935 will come in at 49g, whereas the Fenix 5 starts at 84g (depends upon which bands you utilize). The Fenix 5S starts at 67g.
I’m likely to mix things up a bit in this review from past reviews. Partly because I get bored writing things in the same structure every time, and partly because I believe at this time there’s some things that are believed ‘base’ knowledge. And therefore I’ve often split into separate sections swim/bike/run, with there being so much overlap between all three sections. Because of this I’m likely to round-up the watch basics into this section, then sports in to the next, and then speak about newish FR935 pieces just like the new Training Status/Load/Recovery components, RD compatibility, and Training Peaks integration. Then I’ll separately dive into accuracy of GPS and optical HR sensor.
To begin with, you’ve got the watch face. This uses somewhat mo