Activity trackers are great, but let's face it... your phone can probably do that already with an app. So... what would you want in a tracker to get you interested? How about smartwatch-like notifications, constant heart rate monitoring, auto updates, and, y'know, telling the time? That's what you get with the Garmin Forerunner 35.
In a nutshell, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is a wrist-worn GPS activity tracker that also features smart notifications that you would expect to find on a smartwatch. Fully waterproof, it is small, very light, easy to use, and comes in a choice of four colours. Oh, and the battery lasts for days. Seriously.
For day in, day out use, the Garmin Forerunner 35 will track your steps, distance, and calories burnt. It will also monitor your sleep (based on your movements at night) and then upload all this data to the Garmin Connect app for iOS and Android. So, if that is all you're interested in, you'll be happy to see the data all neatly presented, both in the app, and on the watch itself, albeit in a non-touchscreen display.
However, if you're a sporty type looking to step it up a notch, you can set the Garmin Forerunner 35 into a variety of activity modes, such as Outside Running, Indoors Running, Cycling, Walking, etc. As well as steps and distance, you'll be able to track your time and pace, too. Your heart rate can be continuously tracked by way of the underside sensor, which shines three very discreet green lights into your skin to get a reading. When the watch is worn, you can never see the green light around edges.
On top of all this are the smart notifications. Connected to your phone via Bluetooth, by default you get call and text notifications on the watch, with a simple message displaying and the ability to dismiss a text, or answer or reject a call. You can't use the watch to take the actual call though, as there is no mic. The great thing about the smart notifications, however, is that almost all the apps on your phone can be added to the list in the Garmin app to share their alerts. So you can see on the Garmin Forerunner 35 when you get a Facebook message, email, eBay alert, smart home security notification... whatever you want. This all works fairly seamlessly, and the delay between phone and watch is pretty non-existent.
Navigating the menus on the Garmin Forerunner 35 is fairly intuitive. As we say, this isn't a touchscreen device, and the four side buttons are used for a few different functions depending on the screen you're currently viewing. After a play around of a few minutes we soon got the hang of it, and also discovered that a long press of one of them opens your music app on your phone, letting you play/pause and skip tracks – obviously very handy when out running.
It charges via USB, by a weird clamp thing. It sort of grips the Garmin Forerunner 35 while charging, which is a bit weird to behold, but means there is no requirement for a Micro USB port which would've added bulk and reduced the waterproof status. We were sent one in lime green (it's not as bad as it sounds), but there is also a choice of blue, white, and black. The strap is soft and flexible, yet feels very secure and uses a traditional watch buckle to fasten, not those annoying press studs that many modern trackers have.
Every time one of us has taken it for a run, or just worn it for the day, the results it produces are accurate and in line with other trackers. The heart rate monitor seemed to be spot on all the of the time, and the GPS positioning was correct also. However, as we said, your phone should be able to do all of that anyway, so it was the added convenience of the smart notifications right there on our wrists that won us over on the day.
A great, versatile, and comfortable tracker-cum-smartwatch, the Garmin Forerunner 35 could be the current go-to wearable for gadget fans, regardless of how much exercise they do.