Before you click that buy button, here is what you can get out of this Garmin Forerunner 230 review – increased understanding of the core features that will be most beneficial to your sporting interests.
So in practical terms, you can do more than running with this GPS watch.
That also means that you may not need to buy an additional gadget for those other sporting activities you love to engage in. Moreover, you’ll be able to spot the difference between 230, Forerunner 235 and other Garmin watches in the Fenix series. So if you have been looking for the best Garmin running watch comparison, this piece will help you in that regard.
Based on Garmin’s tradition of the successive release of improved products in the same series, this one seemed to be the replacement for Forerunner 220, even though it was released in 2015.
Now, you can be sure that there have been many newer models since then.
However, it seems to be a perfect running watch for starters and pros alike. And it is relatively more affordable than the new models.
Who Should Buy The Forerunner 230?
Men and women training for 10k, half or full marathon will find this GPS running watch practically beneficial. Everyday runners like me also get real, unquantifiable value from it as well. Running an indoor track or treadmill, just put it on and discover how the pace and distance data helps to keep you focused and motivated to do more.
- Garmin Forerunner 230 Review | The Key Features
- 1. Attractive Light Wight Design
- 2. Running Activity Tracking
- 3. Heart Rate Monitor
- 4. Daily Activity Tracking
- 5. Connectivity
- Garmin Forerunner 230 Battery Life
- Comparing Forerunner 230 & 235 | What should I buy?
- Garmin Forerunner 230 | Accessories
- Conclusion about Garmin Forerunner 230 review
Garmin Forerunner 230 Review | The Key Features
The Forerunner offers most of the tools a runner needs – distance, pace, some interval options, the ability to pair with a chest strap. You also get smartwatch notifications from your phone displayed, and daily activity tracking too. But that’s just about the basics. Let’s look at the core features.
1. Attractive Light Wight Design
As for the key design features, there is nothing much different between this watch and many others from the most popular brand of running watched. Don’t believe me?
Go check it out now, the number of positive reviews from past buyers could surprise you a little bit. Note, that I am talking about Garmin running watch purchases verified by Amazon. One more interesting thing, they have been in the market for a long time.
Made of durable plastic material, the watch is very light weighing just about 41g.
The Forerunner 230 screen itself is a low-resolution 215 x 180 pixels. It’s not monochrome, as per older models, and it uses a very basic colour selection to highlight information such as HR zones (when connected to a chest strap).
By default, the LCD screen is very dull – so much so that reading in darkness is impossible, but there is a backlight button at the top left. It’s clear enough in daylight to read stats and messages quickly and clearly. And the knock-on for battery life is huge. The Forerunner will last around a month as a normal watch and offers 16 hours of GPS tracking.
Forerunner 230 is compatible with Connect IQ, Garmin’s version of an app store. 3rd party developers are now working with Garmin to develop new apps, widgets and watch faces.
This is great for customizing the watch display.
You can also download new data fields and change how these appear on the watch. At a glance, you get the data you need during training. The key buttons include the main activity button that you use to select and start runs, a back button and up/down selector buttons for navigating menus.
2. Running Activity Tracking
Expectedly, the core activity that this watch was built for is running. And for this sporting activity, this Forerunner 230 provides a lot of insight with the data generated from your active engagement. Besides general activity and fitness tracking, here are the things you can get out of it in terms running specific contexts.
As far as running metrics goes, the Garmin Forerunner 230 has pretty much everything the intermediate runner needs.
Hence it tracks distance, speed, and pace via GPS with incredible accuracy. Moreover, it has modes for interval sessions and custom workouts made with Garmin Connect.
The running performance of this watch is exceptional due to the GPS and GLONASS satellite receivers in the watch. This means you have more satellites to access with your watch. More satellites, in this case, mean more accurate positioning. This is extremely helpful for users in built-up urban areas or very mountainous regions where the skies horizon is compromised.
Garmin’s GPS performance is some of the best around, and we found the Forerunner 230 locked onto satellites in lightning-quick time, which is great when you’re standing in the cold in your shorts, ready to run.
Interestingly, the Forerunner 230 isn’t totally devoid of advanced stats either, as it will also look at your recovery time and spit out a VO2 max score at the end of a run. Practically, this elevates it above most basic watches when it comes to raw data.
And if you have been an active runner for a while, you probably know now that recovery insight is very important.
3. Heart Rate Monitor
While the optical sensing heart rate technology in new models seems to be a little bit of advancement, It doesn’t work quite well in high-intensity workout contexts. And that’s the main reason for the inaccurate data you’ll end up getting from them.
For less serious or casual runners, this may not be of great concern. But here is one thing you should know.
It is better to have vague HR data than none at all.
By having access to heart rate data, regardless of how imperfect, your post-workout review will be more detailed, and you can see improvements in your fitness more clearly. This is how to get an increased understanding of your workout routines and performance. So in this case, pairing with Forerunner 230 with a chest strap is practically better. Who knows how intense your workout will get when you get into the flow zone.
Aside from general running tracking, the Forerunner 230 has modes for biking, indoor running (GPS turned off) and “other”, which essentially just opens up time, distance and speed and lets you get on with whatever crazy workout you’re doing. You could hook up an HR monitor and use it in the gym, for example, for basic performance data.
4. Daily Activity Tracking
As well as run tracking, the Garmin Forerunner 230 will also track your daily activity, just like the Fitbit and Jawbones does. Tap the down button on the home screen to get a digest of your steps, distance walked (estimated, not GPS tracked) and calories torched.
It will also show your progress towards daily goals that you can set within the app. How is this important you may ask?
Think no further. Having a visual representation of progress towards your goal will increase your motivation to stay through to see it accomplished. Now compare this with merely having the goal in your mind or on paper. You just have to set the goal first. And then the data will start filling appropriate space even as you get busy with your normal daily activities.
One other interesting feature of the Forerunner 230, which is an ever-present on Garmin fitness devices, is the Move bar. While you’re seating at your desk or sofa; the moving bar fills up and you’ll need to move about to clear it. It’s one of the least annoying move reminders out there and a good addition for those looking to curb their sitting rituals.
It’s a decent set of features if you’re willing to wear the Forerunner 230 all day, every day. It’s a personal choice. Lots of people wear running watches casually.
However, it doesn’t seem to be a fit for everybody.
In addition to all of the use cases mentioned above, the same running watch can as well be used for indoor and outdoor cycling. And for this, you’ll also be getting pace, distance and cadence data.
As with activity tracking, smartphone notifications and Garmin Connect IQ support can be found in this running watch too. A closer look will make you feel that the older models don’t have most of these things. Among many other benefits, it makes for easy data syncing.
In comparison to Polar Flow, Garmin provided the deeper breath of useful data.
When accessed through desktop PC or Mac, Garmin Connect will increase your ability to build custom workouts, discover and design routes; as well as review your activity data.
Garmin’s mobile app, on the other hand, is less compelling. It’s geared towards reviewing workout data and daily activity stats, and the whole thing is a little confusing and hard to use. Fortunately, Garmin allows you to spit out data to Strava, which happens to be the preferred platform for many users.
That means you can just run or cycle with your watch, sync it up when you get back and enjoy all the segments and personal records for your routes as normal.
Garmin Forerunner 230 Battery Life
Obviously, this Garmin Forerunner 230 review won’t be complete without battery life considerations. One thing remarkably clear is that it provides long battery lifespan than Forerunner 235 and many other newer running watches from this brand.
Expect up to5 week in smartwatch mode, and 16 hours in GPS. When you buy from Amazon, it comes with a cable for convenient charging at any point of need.
To get an even longer duration of service, consider turning off some notification features in the setting. This will ensure that you have enough power to run the most important functions on when you need them. Without the doubt, am sure you won’t like to have it go off when you are on a long outdoor cycling adventure.
Comparing Forerunner 230 & 235 | What should I buy?
Another key difference is the battery life. For 230 you get up to 5 weeks in smartwatch mode and 16 hours in GPS mode. Now compare that with 9 days and 11 hours obtainable from 235. Did you assume that that same wrist-based heart rate monitor that may not give accurate date could be responsible for Garmin Forerunner 235 battery life being shorter?
Well if you did just that, you are not far from the truth. However, a whole lot depends on how long or frequent you are using your watch.
Watch this short video review of the Forerunner 230:
Garmin Forerunner 230 | Accessories
Whether you are using your watch for indoor or outdoor activities, there are instances where extra accessories make it possible to get more value out of Forerunner 230. One example is the chest strap we’ve talked about before. These accessories also prove useful for selected sporting activities you may have in mind now. So let’s take a look at the major ones below.
This helps to measure 6 running dynamics including cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact time, stride length and vertical ratio. Advanced and casual runners will find this most useful. The data provided will enable you to make the accurate comparison between your past and present performance. And then form the basis for intentional and constant improvement.
The Garmin HRM Tri was designed to be worn under a wetsuit for triathlon training. And so it monitors heart rate in the water and running dynamics. Obviously, advanced running dynamics comes handy in this one too. This is one of the best heart rate chest straps you can find in the market. But somehow, it’s a little bit pricey.
If you think the watch reviewed here is just about running, think again. By pairing it with Garmin HRM swim, you get lots of swimming specific data. And yes, it is perfectly water resistant. This device syncs with the device at the end of an activity. Moreover, it can be worn in all swim environments.
Use your Forerunner 230 watch for multisport training. With this accessory kit, you can simply transfer your watch from wrist to bike in seconds. And it is compatible with almost all Garmin sports watches you can think of. Don’t make a guess, this kit falls under $30 at Amazon.
Almost in every field, you look into, the way to reach the top percentage of high performers is through constant improvement. With this in mind, Garmin provides these sensors which give you a real insight into how you are doing especially in terms of cycling. Practically, they are very easy-to-install sensors to track speed and cadence when using your Garmin watch or Edge bike computer for cycling.
Maybe as a result of damage or based on colour preference, you may want to change the band at some point in time. This could be at the first point of purchase or after. Whatever; there are some aesthetically well designed and colourful bands you can choose from. The soft and light weight comfortable bands come mostly in the silicone material. And they are good for many Garmin watches including 220, 230, 235, 620 and 630 models.
Once again, I want to reiterate here that people who get real fitness activity data are never at par with other than merely engage in their game without a gadget. The insights you get make it possible to see the outcome of your training and use that to adjust present-day priorities towards achieving the goal in view. That’s where Index Smart Scales come in.
Get it connected and begin to measure weight, BMI, body fat, water percentage, muscle mass and bone mass. Now you can have the better view of your training effect before and after the activities. This particular accessory also works compatibly well with Garmin Connect App.
When the most pleasurable outdoor activities are long gone into the past, there is always a limit to how much you can remember. But with Garmin VIRB Ultra 30, dependence on your memory can be made a thing of the past. Now you can record your outdoor adventures in ultra HD video. VIRB also includes built-in GPS to capture data such as speed, elevation, and heart rate.
When you are deeply engaged in the flow of your cycling game, it’s easy to become unaware of most other things around you, approaching vehicles inclusive. To ensure maximum safety, this accessory, Varia Rear Light Radar provides 153-yard warning with regard to vehicles from behind. This also syncs with Garmin Edge computer.
Pedal-based power meter measures cadence, power, left/right balance, cycling dynamics and more. People that want to use the Forerunner 230 specifically for cycling will find this valuable. With the cycling dynamics data, you can take your game to the next level.
Conclusion about Garmin Forerunner 230 review
With this Garmin Forerunner 230 review, you now know the difference between this watch and the one you have in mind or used before. First, the long-lasting battery life is something really attractive. You can go back and see the comparison before you make your decision to buy Forerunner 230 or any other model.
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And then in the case, that heart rate monitoring data is highly important in your activity, buying this one and pairing it with a chest strap will give you the insight you need.
For pro athletes and competitively passionate runners alike, this shouldn’t be a compromise.
Besides, getting accurate data in all of the core activities, both outdoor and indoor, will increase your ability to adjust present-day priorities towards the fitness or training goal you set. Since we are in the modern age of tech-powered gadgets, while go the mile blindly.
As for price, this is still one of the best Garmin running watched selling under $200. Yes. It’s comparatively more affordable.
However, the price shouldn’t be the only deciding factor.
Assuming you are to buy from Amazon, you can have it shipped to your doorstep within 48 or less, depending on location. And if you are a prime member, it gets even faster.
Don’t forget to test as many features as you can when it arrives. By doing that, you’ll have the opportunity to detect defects early enough to return it within the allowed duration. This is one way to avoid regrets after with one feature or the other after purchase.
For your own specific sporting interests, I am sure you’ll find most of the features reviewed here contextually valuable.
But in the case you are that multi-sporting personality, you may as well go for Garmin Fenix multisport watches instead. The Fenix 5S and 5X mentioned earlier got you covered on this.