Garmin has been making the best watches for runners for a number of years with their Forerunner lineup but it does get confusing as to which one is the best choice. There’s several to choose from with newly released models to ones that have been around for quite some time.
In this article we’ll be comparing the new Forerunner 245/245 Music versus the Forerunner 45 and 45s.
Ranging in price from $199 to $349 these models have some shared features and important differences, depending upon a user’s particular needs and budget.
First off the bat, the Forerunner series is, as you guessed it, aimed at runners. If you’re more into hiking then you may want to look at the new Garmin Instinct or the Fenix series but the Forerunner 245 does have navigational features which will be discussed.
If you’re not familiar with Garmin, some of the terminology might be new to you. You’ll be hearing about Intensity Minutes, Live Tracking, Incident Detection, Garmin IQ Store, Garmin Connect and Garmin Coach.
Intensity Minutes – These are the minutes in which your activity is determined to be at the moderate to intense level for 10 minutes or longer throughout your day. So if you are vacuuming and mopping your floors for 10 minutes or longer you’ll get credit for those “intense” minutes. 150 minutes a week is the preset goal.
Live Tracking – Many of Garmin’s fitness trackers and watches support live tracking which allows people you have authorized to view your location live. This is a useful safety feature for hikers or runners.
Incident Detection – This is a newer feature found on Garmin’s newer devices. Let’s say your running or riding your bike and you wipe out or have a medical emergency. Garmin’s watches equipped with incident detection can potentially determine when such an event has occurred and notify those on your emergency list. Your GPS location is sent to them in a text message so you can be found.
Garmin IQ Store – Garmin’s IQ Store has recently become a standalone app. Before it was accessed through Garmin Connect (Garmin’s mobile app) or through Garmin Express. Now it’s much easier to browse through available apps and watchfaces and download them to compatible Garmin watches.
Garmin Coach – These are personalized plans that available to choose from to help you achieve a particular fitness goal, like building up to a 5k.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get started with the Forerunner 45/45s!
The Forerunner 45/45s (see price and availability on Amazon) replaces the Forerunner 35 which was long overdue for an upgrade. As I write this all the available sizes and colors should be available for purchase within the next 3 weeks or so (end of June 2019). The difference between the 45 and 45s is simply the diameter of the watch case. The “s” refers to small and the 45s is 39.5 mm in diameter while the 45 is 42 mm. Both are 11.4 mm thick.
It’s important to note that the larger size doesn’t provide a larger viewable screen. The case size is simply larger to look better on a larger wrist.
The 45s is available in white and iris (purple) while the 45 is available in black and red.
In my opinion, the Forerunner 45/45s is one of the better looking watches that Garmin makes. It’s smaller size, sleek design (not so protruding buttons) and light weight make it an extremely comfortable watch to wear, especially when running.
The Forerunner 45/45s is meant for beginner runners or those that just don’t need all the metrics available in more pricey watches. Runners will see their time, pace, and distance.
The Forerunner 45/45s is also equipped with Garmin’s newest optical heart rate sensor, as is the 245 series. Only Garmin’s newest watches have it and I’m eager to try it out. Built-in GPS is also included.
You’ll get that great transflective display which looks terrific outdoors. It’s easy to quickly glance out the screen when running or bike riding and clearly see your stats even in the brightest sunlight. Yeah, full color OLED screens are prettier but can be more difficult to see outdoors and they’re battery hogs. Garmin’s displays are much more efficient which leads to better battery life.
Speaking of battery life, the 45/45s is advertised to last up to 7 days between charging. Pretty good.
Notifications are also supported for both Android and iOS users but replying to messages through the watch isn’t supported for either.
ANT+ devices can be connected such as chest heart rate straps and foot pods.
With a 5ATM water resistance rating you can swim with the watch but it doesn’t have a swimming activity.
Besides outdoor and indoor running the watch supports treadmill, yoga, indoor and outdoor cycling, elliptical, stair stepping, and has a general cardio category for activities that fall outside of all of those.
The 45/45s can be used with the Connect IQ store but only watchfaces are available for download. Widgets and apps aren’t compatible.
The bottom line for the Forerunner 45/45s is that it is a very good watch for those who aren’t interested in tons of running data that they may not care about such as vertical oscillation (the bounce when you run), ground contact time (the amount of time in milliseconds your foot is on the ground when running), etc.
Maybe you’re the type that occasionally participates in a 5k, enjoys running to improve your health or simply want to keep track of your steps, heart rate, sleep, etc., like a traditional fitness tracker does.
The Forerunner 45/45s is a very good Fitbit alternative with the advantage of having built-in GPS, good battery life, and a more traditional watch look.
If you’re a hiker or want music storage on your watch or want to be able to download apps and widgets then you’ll need to look to other options. One of them is the new Forerunner 245/245 Music which we’ll take a look at next.
Forerunner 245/245 Music
The only difference between the Forerunner 245 and the 245 Music is, well music. You can store up to 500 songs on the 245 Music and streaming music services are supported such as Spotify, iHeartRadio, etc where playlists can be downloaded.
Besides music, the are different color options available for the 245 which comes in slate gray or berry. The 245 Music is available in white, black, and aqua.
The Forerunner 245 series (see price and availability on Amazon) has a little better build quality than the Forerunner 45. The 45 has chemically strengthened glass for its display while the 245 has Corning Gorilla Glass 3, so it will likely be more scratch resistant. Both have that transflective display for outdoor viewing but the 245 has a little better screen resolution. Backlighting is available for darker environments for both watches.
The display size of the 245 is 1.2 inches compared to 1.04 inches for the 45 and 45s. Both are lightweight watches which is ideal for a running watch. The 245 comes in at 38.5 grams while the 45 is 36 grams and 45s is 32 grams.
Should you spend more and choose the music version? Well, that depends how you plan to use the watch or if you just prefer the color options of the music version. The straps are replaceable (quick release) so keep that in mind. You can always swap out a strap color if you prefer something else. The strap on the Forerunner 45/45s isn’t replaceable so that’s something else you may want to consider in your decision.
The 245 series will get you full access to the Garmin IQ store so you can download compatible apps, widgets, and watchfaces. The 45/45s can only download different watchfaces.
Of course, since this is a running watch let’s dig into those features because you will get more than you would with the 45 series.
In addition to cadence (number of steps per minute) which is also available on the 45/45s, the Forerunner 245/245 Music can be paired with a foot pod to show vertical oscillation, ground contact time & balance, and stride length but you will need that external foot pod.
The 245 also supports VO2Max with training effect with aerobic and anaerobic data.
A big difference between the 245 series and the 45 series is that the 245 series has many useful navigational features such as: point-to-point navigation, real time breadcrumbing, GPS coordinates, TracBack and back to start (navigate back to your starting point), a compass, distance to your destination, and UltraTrac Mode (in this mode GPS battery life is extended).
Missing from the 245 series and 45 series, however, is an altimeter. That’s kind of a bummer because you won’t get elevation data, storm alerts, vertical speed, etc.
Like the 45 series, the 245 is waterproof for swimming but also supports pool swimming as an activity.
More activities are also supported on the 245/245 Music such as trail running and rowing with auto rep counts. Courses can be downloaded to the 245 and you can also navigate to saved locations. So it can be used as a hiking watch if you’re not needing elevation data or maps.
The 245 series is equipped with a pulse oximeter which reads blood oxygen levels. This is probably most useful for use when sleeping because it may potentially let you know if your blood oxygen levels are abnormally low.
The app doesn’t alert you that it has detected sleep apnea but if you notice concerning low blood oxygen patterns you may want to get checked out. This isn’t an FDA approved device for detecting sleep apnea and shouldn’t be used for that purpose but it might just give you the heads up.
Included on both the 45 series and 245 series is incident detection which can alert your emergency contacts of a possible injury, medical emergency, or other incidents. Basically, if you suddenly stop and don’t start moving again the watch will send out an alert. You can cancel this alert but if you don’t your GPS coordinates will be sent to your designated contacts.
You also have to option to send an SOS of sorts, similar to what is available on the Apple Watch. If you feel you’re in danger you can send an emergency message to your contacts.
The Forerunner 245/245 Music has many features of Garmin’s more expensive watches. You’re getting a lot for the money but it is missing a barometric altimeter, multisport capabilities, round trip course creator, lactate threshold, support for golfing, storm alert, topographical maps, open water swimming, and other features that you’ll find in the new Forerunner 945 and the Fenix series.
The Forerunner 245/245 Music is probably enough watch with enough features for most people. You’re not paying for features that you may never use unless you’re a series hiker, want a watch that supports golfing, or open water swimming, etc.
Also missing from the 45 and 245 series is Garmin Pay so keep that in mind if that is important to you.
The bottom line is that both the Forerunner 45 and Forerunner 245 series are both attractive options for runners, although they do support other activities as discussed above. The 45 and 45s is a no-nonsense option for those that don’t require more advanced data from their workouts. Battery life is similar with both watches advertised to last up to 7 days but the 245 series will last up to 24 hours in GPS mode while the 45 last up to 13 hours.
The more budget friendly option is the 45 series which is an important consideration for most people. I think it’s a good alternative to many of the products Fitbit offers. That built-in GPS is very nice to have and a personally think it’s an attractive looking watch. The 45s is ideal for smaller wrists too.
The 245 Music blows Fitbit away in my opinion with its features, especially those handy navigational features. Fitbit doesn’t offer anything like that.
Overall, I think the Forerunner 245 and 245 Music is the best watch for runners in 2019 based upon price and features.