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Wearable Tech

​Garmin debuts three new GPS running watches with all-day tracking, smart alerts

The Forerunner 230, 235 and 630 can measure pace and distance while running, along with tracking steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and your sleep at night.

The new Garmin Forerunner 630 Garmin

Garmin's updating its runners' watches with three new models, all packed with everything you need to track your running performance and measure your fitness. And its mobile app will be getting a makeover to match.

The Forerunner 230, Forerunner 235 and high-end Forerunner 630 watches are all equipped with GPS to measure pace and distance when running and include features such as Auto Lap and Auto Pause. They're designed to be worn all day and are capable of tracking steps, calories burned and sleep. All three are also water-resistant up to 50 meters, so you can wear them in the shower and pool.

Garmin has even included some smartwatch functions in the Forerunners. The new watches can display notifications from your Android or iOS device to alert you when you receive calls, text messages and emails. You will have to be connected to your phone over Bluetooth, though. You can also use the watch to control music from your smartphone, and install additional watch faces, widgets and apps through Garmin's Connect IQ developer platform.

Forerunner 230 and 235

The 230 and 235 are essentially the same watch, with one exception. The 235 includes an optical heart-rate sensor on the back, making it Garmin's second device (behind the Forerunner 225 , one of our favorite running watches) to include the technology.

That doesn't mean the 230 can't track heart rate. It can, but you'll need to wear an ANT+ chest strap if you want to do so. It may be a little uncomfortable, but it opens the door to even more features. With heart-rate tracking enabled, both watches can estimate your VO2 max (that's the maximum amount of oxygen you can consume), help predict race times and tell you how long to rest after a hard workout.

Garmin claims the 230 will last up to 16 hours in training mode or up to 5 weeks if you're simply tracking your activities and displaying smartphone alerts. The 235 is said to last up to 11 hours with an active GPS signal or up to nine days in activity tracking mode while also displaying alerts.


Forerunner 630

The Forerunner 630 features a high-resolution color touchscreen that is always on. It also includes vibration alerts and Wi-Fi, which lets you automatically upload your workout and activity data even if your phone isn't in Bluetooth range.

While it doesn't include an optical heart-rate sensor, you can pair the 630 with Garmin's HRM-Run chest strap to get advanced feedback on your running form. In addition to measuring your heart rate, the strap features an accelerometer that helps it measure cadence (steps per minute), vertical oscillation and ground contact time.

The 630 can also estimate your VO2 max, predict race times and monitor recovery times after hard workouts when paired with a normal ANT+ heart-rate strap. And its two new features let it estimate lactate threshold and stress levels, both of which also require a heart-rate strap.

Garmin claims the 630 will last up to 16 hours with an active GPS signal or up to 4 weeks in activity tracking mode with smartphone notifications turned on.


We don't yet have a firm release date for these watches, but Garmin tells us that all three of them will begin shipping in the fourth quarter of this year. The Forerunner 230 will be available for $250, or $300 when bundled with a heart-rate strap. We don't have international pricing details yet, but that roughly converts to £160 or £195 in the UK, and AU$345 or AU$415 in Australia.

The Forerunner 235 is priced at $330, which converts to £215 or AU$455.

The high-end Forerunner 630 sells for $400, or $450 when bundled with Garmin's HRM-Run strap. That roughly converts to £260 or £290 in the UK, and AU$555 or AU$620 in Australia.