Garmin Forerunner 45S Review
Cons: Lacks navigation and higher end features, plastic design, battery life isn't for ultra athletes, scratches easily
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Forerunner 45S is great for those seeking a lower-priced deal on a highly featured GPS watch that's part of the Garmin Connect ecosystem. While it doesn't boast the longest battery life, you have access to workouts, training plans, coaches, and more. It has all the right features to keep you on track with your training. Just don't expect it to last longer than 10 hours in GPS mode.
The 45S has a plethora of excellent features like most standard GPS watches. It doesn't have fancy high-end features like blood oxygen sensors, navigation, or complex maps, but it has everything you need for training and exercise tracking.
- GPS tracking
- 6 to 8 profiles
- Music control (no music storage without a phone)
- Daily heart rate monitoring
- Fitness tracking (pedometer, calories burned, stairs climbed)
- Sleep monitoring (excellent analysis)
- Incident detection (found on all Garmin devices)
- Live Tracking (only works with Android phones)
- Downloadable workouts and coaching integrations
- VO2 max measurement
- Water resistance to 50 meters
- Smartphone notifications
- Integration with the Garmin connect community and tens of widgets that can be added
For a full list of features, check out the spec sheet on the Garmin site.
As a robust and well-featured watch at a low price, it's not surprising that the battery life isn't built for use for ultra distances or endurance sports, but it works for most recreational athletes. Garmin advertises smartwatch mode lasting 7 days and GPS mode lasting up to 13 hours. We measured charging time to be close to 130 minutes.
During our tests, we measured GPS on a climbing day outside, doing laps on rock and hiking on trails. On this day, we got 10.5 hours of GPS life, which is less than the Garmin claim. And with daily activities averaging 3-4 per week (at least one hour in length), the Forerunner 45S lasted closer to 6 days than the claimed 7. There are some devices at the same price point that boast much longer battery life if that's what you care about most. However, if you just have a daily routine where one to two hours of exercise each day is the norm, this is still a great choice.
Ease of Use
We gave this watch to testers that had never used a Garmin Forerunner before. They had no trouble figuring out the platform and setting up the watch in less than five minutes. Pairing took only two minutes, and we were ready to go.
The buttons are on the small side but can still be used with a pair of thicker gloves. The display is clear and crisp, with a backlight suitable for low light and workouts at night. The watch presents relevant information with the ability to customize the watch face through the Garmin IQ app. We appreciate the plentiful widget options that further allow you to make this watch feel more personalized.
The app platform is also easy to use. Synching is automatic with great connectivity in our experience. Downloading workouts is simple to figure out. Since this watch has many features, the hardest part is realizing the number of options you have for integration.
Accuracy is good for both the heart rate monitor and GPS. During our runs, we took a look at the maps after the fact. Our runs hardly ever deviated more than 5 feet from our original track. Only once, when we had the watch a little obstructed and were running under trees, did it deviate from the track by 10 feet. We also appreciate that GPS signals are acquired in under one minute, depending on the location. Heart rate deviation was 0 to 2 bpm. We think this is due to the smaller fit that works well for both smaller and larger wrists. The heart rate monitor also protrudes just a bit from the back, which provides a good contact point for the sensor. Overall, we trust the accuracy of this watch. If, however, you need precision in heart rate monitoring, we still recommend a chest strap.
We love the lightweight (only 1.2 oz) and small watch face (40mm body, 11mm thickness, 36mm screen size). It doesn't get caught on clothing, and the buttons are spaced well and small enough that they don't accidentally get pushed. Five simple buttons offer excellent functionality. Our only caveat with the design is the plastic construction of the watch. Unlike other higher-end watches, the plastic polymer is hard and gets scratched easily, looking worn after just a few uses (especially if you accidentally drop it or brush it against a rock).
If you love Garmin products and want the connectivity of this ecosystem, this is one with excellent value. It packs a lot of features into a small package and comes at a lower price tag. That said, its Achilles heel is battery life and its plastic design. There are other watches at the same price point with fewer features that boast longer battery life and a more intuitive design. This watch is not designed for ultra distances. That said, it's still inexpensive and well-featured, providing great value for the right user.
The Garmin Forerunner 45S stands out for its lightweight and low profile design packed with features and at a lower price tag. It comes loaded with the ability to track all sorts of activities with the data you need to aid in your workouts. You can download preloaded workouts and share information easily across the Garmin ecosystem. While this watch is low priced, it's far from low-featured. It's an excellent value, especially if you don't need a battery that lasts for longer than 10 hours in GPS mode.
— Amber King
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