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Garmin HRM-Pro Plus review: One very handy design update, same price

Garmin's watches have heart-rate sensors on the back, but for the most accurate and timely heart rate data the chest strap is the preferred form factor. Garmin's new chest strap has one major design update while keeping the same price as the previous generation.
matthew-miller
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on
Pros
  • Redesigned battery access
  • Comfortable strap
  • Long battery life
  • Indoor pace/distance
  • Running dynamics support
  • Running power source
  • Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity
Cons
  • Strap not optimized for swimming

The Garmin HRM-Pro heart rate monitor was released in 2020 and continues to serve as a very capable chest strap. If you bought one in 2020, you may have changed the battery out one or two times and experienced the inconvenience of the small screws on the battery access door. Battery compartment access is the only noticeable design change in the HRM-Pro Plus with the one software improvement also available on the HRM-Pro.

While we often look for significant improvements in new products, there were no real faults in the HRM-Pro except for the terrible battery access design. Creating a new product that improves something and then serves as the default product for that category is perfectly acceptable. If you don't already have a chest strap heart rate monitor, go with the HRM-Pro Pus. However, if you already have the HRM-Pro then there is no reason to upgrade to the new heart rate monitor until your existing model fails.

Also: The 5 best Garmin watch models: Which is right for you?

In the early days of GPS watches, I wore a chest strap since heart rate monitoring from the wrist was not very accurate. After a while, chest straps bothered me and I found wrist-based monitoring to be good enough for my needs. With Garmin's heart rate monitors serving as the data source for running dynamics, and now with the 2022 Garmin watches as the data source for running power, I am back to working out with a chest strap. I am also now an active Hydrow user so a chest strap is needed to get the most accurate workout experience.

garmin-hrm-pro-plus-3

The HRM-Pro (top) and HRM-Pro Plus (bottom) have different battery compartment access panels

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

With the HRM-Pro, there were four screws that needed to be removed to replace the coin cell battery in the monitor and an O-ring that you had to make sure was properly positioned to maintain the 5ATM water resistance. On the HRM-Pro Plus, you simply rotate the back battery cover to remove the cover and replace the battery. There is even a small tab positioned under the battery so you can easily pull it up and remove the battery. This is a nice touch as I often have had to use a screwdriver or other pry tool to get coin cell batteries out of things. Don't remove the white battery assist device from the pod. The same silicone cover over the battery compartment is present, but it is now white instead of yellow.

The strap itself is made of the same flexible material as the HRM-Pro, including the clasp backing piece that keeps the strap connection from running on your skin. There are also two contact areas on the inside of the band. The band length is also adjustable and, like the HRM-Pro, I have it near the maximum length to fit around my chest. The strap is very comfortable for extended periods of wear and does not shift around when secured properly.

garmin-hrm-pro-plus-1

Don't remove the white tab as that helps you remove the battery

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

The HRM-Pro Plus provides heart rate data over ANT+ and Bluetooth so it works with your Garmin watch, smartphone apps, compatible equipment in the gym, and other GPS or smartwatches. Swimmers will appreciate the 5ATM water resistance and storage of heart rate data on the band that syncs to your device, but the strap may slide down since it is not optimized for swimming in all conditions. If you take your Garmin device off for team sports and other activities, the HRM-Pro Plus can be worn to track steps, intensity minutes, and more that can later be synced to your Garmin device.

Also: Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar review: Garmin's most powerful watch built for runners

The one software improvement in the HRM-Pro Plus is the ability for the heart rate monitor to track indoor run pace and distance so when you are on a treadmill Garmin will help track these metrics. This software improvement is also now available on the 2020 HRM-Pro via a software update so the HRM-Pro will have the same software as the HRM-Pro Plus at no additional cost to the HRM-Pro owner.

With new Garmin watches, such as the Forerunner 955 Solar, running power support is now native to the watch. This means when you have the Forerunner paired to the watch then running power and running dynamics (stride length, run cadence, vertical ratio, and ground contact time) will appear on the watch and in your running summary report. Running power support is also provided to older Garmin watches that don't have native running power support through ConnectIQ apps.

I only run outside so to fully understand the new indoor running support features of the HRM-Pro Plus, and upgraded HRM-Pro, I recommend you check out the extensive review on the DC Rainmaker website.

The Garmin HRM-Pro Plus is available now for $129.99, the same price as the HRM-Pro. It offers solid and reliable heart rate monitoring with deep integration in the Garmin ecosystem. The coin cell battery should last you about a year and Garmin actively keeps the strap updated with the latest support and features.

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