Garmin Forerunner 230 Review

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If you are looking for a running watch to meet all your running needs, then the Garmin Forerunner 230 could be a solid investment for you. It’s said to be far superior to its predecessor, the Forerunner 220. Many people think there is a huge difference between the two but for those that already own the watch, how much better is it really? Is it worth the upgrade to the Forerunner 230? Read on the Garmin Forerunner 230 review.

Garmin Forerunner 230 Review

Below we will look at all the pros and cons of owning the Garmin Forerunner 230 to determine if it’s a suitable upgrade or if the predecessor will do just as good.

The Garmin Forerunner 230 is a much smaller watch then it’s predecessor, so if size is important to you then you may want to opt for the upgrade. It’s not as thick as the original watch as the diameter is a bit smaller. Even the display is just a ¼ of an inch smaller then the original Forerunner 220, so overall you have a good compact watch.

Garmin Forerunner 230

Garmin Forerunner 230

For those of you that find resolution important, you will be happy to find that the screen has been upgraded with a few more pixels. The screen itself is larger and easier to read your vital stats while running. A cool feature that it does have is it can show up to four screens at one time for optimal use.

Garmin Forerunner 230 stats

Garmin Forerunner 230 Stats

The Garmin FR 230 also has a longer battery life than the FR 220, providing up to 16hrs in training mode and up to 5 weeks in watch mode. Whereas the previous 220 only provided a battery life of up to 10 hours, so the significant increase is certainly an improvement.

Another cool feature is the activity tracking that is available on the watch. When you wear the watch, even for a whole day it will continue to count your daily steps, distances, calories and sleep patterns. This is certainly useful if you want become more active in your daily life.

Fitbits activity trackers are the most popular for the ability to attract your activity and Garmin watches are becoming very much like that in regards to popularity. Where Fitbit watches primarily aimed at the casual exercise market, the Garmin watches are meant for runners who have goals they want to track.

It’s no big surprise that experts say that sitting for a long period of time is not good for your health. That goes for people who are generally very active, even runners. It’s important to move around despite your exercise level. You can actually improve your running progress by walking around more often instead of remaining sedentary for long periods of time. This is where the Garmin FR 230 watch can come in handy.

The Garmin Forerunner 230 can also provide audio prompts from your connected smartphone such as lap times and smart notifications, so you can be notified of any incoming text messages, emails, calls or calendar reminders.

Garmin Forerunner 230 Smart Notifications

Garmin Forerunner 230 Smart Notifications

Garmin FR 230 users also have the ability to control music by syncing the watch to your smartphone and this is a bit of a downside for the 230 because you would have to bring your phone with you on all your runs. Not the best as far as convenience goes but nevertheless a good feature.

The Garmin Forerunner 230 is able to give you a rough idea on what your aerobic threshold is. But another downside is that you would have to buy and wear a separate heart monitor in order to determine what your threshold is. The upside however is that Garmin can determine how hard you run when you exercise.

You can download third party apps on the Garmin as well because it is compatible with Connect IQ. This will give you the ability to display your heart rate, use different clock faces and even check the weather before you run.

The updates for the Garmin Forerunner 230 are definitely an improvement from the Garmin FR 220. The major changes are the bigger screen with more battery life with an overall smaller watch size. Those upgrades alone are pretty significant.

Positives of the Garmin Forerunner 230

  • Compact and comfortable to wear GPS running watch
  • Large colour screen, which is bigger than the FR 220 provides clear and easy to read stats when you need them
  • Increased battery life provides up to 16 hours when in training mode and up to 5 weeks when in watch mode.
  • Tracks distances, pace, time and heart rate (sold separately)
  • Activity tracking counts daily steps, calories, distances and sleep patterns.
  • Smart notifications allows you to see incoming calls, text messages, emails and calendar reminders
  • Music control when synced with smart phone so you can easily skip and select tracks on your smart phone
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Negatives of Garmin FR 230 watch:

  • No built-in optical heart rate monitor, which is available on the Forerunner 235.
  • App not intuitive to use
  • Lacks fun features but should satisfy most casual runners needs.

Dimensions: 1.77″ x 1.77″ x 0.46″ (45.0 x 45.0 x 11.7 mm)
Display size: 1.23″ (31.1 mm) diameter
Display resolution: 215 x 180 pixels
Colour display: Yes
Weight: 1.4 oz. (41 g)
Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion
Battery life: Up to 16 Hours training, 5 weeks watch + AT + Notifications
Water rating: 5 ATM
GPS-enabled: Yes
High-sensitivity receiver: Yes
Smart notifications: displays email, text and other alerts when paired with your compatible phone
Vibration alert: Yes
Music control: Yes
Find my phone: Yes
VIRB® control: Yes
Watch functions: Includes date and alarm

Maps & Memory
History: 200 hours of activity data

Running Features
V02 max estimate: Yes
Recovery advisor: Yes
Race predictor
Accelerometer (calculates distance for indoor workouts, without need for a foot pod)
Personal records

Cycling Features
Bike speed/cadence sensor: Yes (optional)

Performance Features
Heart rate monitor: Yes (Some versions)
Foot pod: Yes (optional)
Auto Pause®: pauses and resumes timer based on speed
Auto Lap®: automatically starts a new lap
Auto Scroll: cycles through data pages during workout
Advanced workouts: create custom, goal-oriented workouts
Pace alert: triggers alarm if you vary from pre-set pace
Time/distance alert: triggers alarm when you reach goal
Interval training: set up exercise and rest intervals
Heart rate-based calorie computation
Calculates calories burned
Training Effect: measures impact of an activity on your aerobic fitness
Customizable screen(s)
Shock Resistant

Activity Tracking Features
Step counter
Auto goal (learns your activity level and assigns a daily step goal)
Move bar (displays on device after a period of inactivity; walk for a couple of minutes to reset it)
Sleep monitoring (monitors total sleep and periods of movement or restful sleep)

Garmin Connect™
Garmin Connect™ compatible (online community where you analyse, categorize and share data)
Automatic sync (automatically transfers data to your computer)

Connect IQ™ app support: Yes

What’s in the Box?

Watch Only
1 x Garmin Forerunner 230 watch
1 x charging/data clip
1 x user manual

1 x Garmin Forerunner 230 watch
1 x Heart-rate monitor
1 x charging/data clip
1 x user manual

What Other People Say About the Garmin FR 230
Nice upgrade from FR220 Overall Summary – The FR230 is a solid upgrade from the FR220. I’m sure the new features will be more valuable or less valuable to certain people, but I am guessing there is something there for everyone.” – By Derek

I love this watch so much – I love this watch so much. Avid runner here, have been running for 4 years now! I used to use the TomTom runner and decided to try something new. This watch is awesome. I bought the “Frost” band to put on this watch to replace the plain black band. I have had ZERO issues with this watch and hear rate monitor.” – By Cheri

Really great runners watch – The FR 230 watch is amazing. It’s distance calculation based on both the US and Russian satellites is WAY more accurate than the Fitbit Charge HR. On the high school track and local measured green belt it seems to be spot on. Our Charge HR is often off by half a mile over three miles.” – By Tracey

Video on Garmin Forerunner 230

With a RRP of $249.99, the Garmin Runner 230 is pretty good value for a mid-range GPS running watch with smart features. Alternative, you can opt for the bundle version, which includes the heart-rate monitor for a RRP of $299.99. As a recommendation, the Garmin FR 230 is a worthy upgrade from the FR 220 and it has enough cool features to be a good investment for any runner.

Where to Buy the FR 230?
You can buy the Garmin Forerunner 230 directly from Amazon for the watch only model ($249.99) or bundle version ($299.99), which includes the heart-rate monitor.

Do you own the Garmin Forerunner 230? Share you comments or questions with us below.