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Garmin Forerunner 225 review: Daily activity tracking and an integrated heart rate monitor for runners

  • Editors' rating
    9.4 Spectacular
  • $299.99

Pros

  • Comfortable design and lightweight for long term wear
  • Accurate and reliable GPS tracking
  • Easy to read display
  • Auto sleep functionality

Cons

  • Limited just to running
  • Heart rate data is not captured or recorded unless in a workout
  • No smartphone notification support

Garmin is one of the top brands when it comes to fitness tracking and data collection for the active athlete. The latest Garmin Forerunner 225 adds two key functions to its popular mid-range line of running watches; daily activity tracking and heart rate monitoring.

While these two new functions are the major differences over the Garmin Forerunner 220, I was a bit disappointed in the heart rate monitor and think the Forerunner 225 is priced $50 too high.

The Forerunner 225 has a different focus than the Garmin Vivoactive, one is solely for runners while the other is useful for several sports while also serving as a basic smartwatch. Let's take a closer look at the Garmin Forerunner 225.

Specifications

  • Display: 180 x 180 pixels round color non-touch screen display
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion, up to 4 weeks in watch mode and 10 hours in GPS mode with optical heart rate monitoring
  • Water resistance: Sweat, rain, and water resistant up to 5 ATM (50 meters).
  • Dimensions: 48 mm diameter (25.4 mm diameter display) x 16 mm thickness and weight of 54 grams, with the band

Hardware

The only available color of the Garmin Forerunner 225 is black with red highlights. The FR 220 also came in white and pink, but I don't know if we will see another color on the 225 or not.

The Garmin Forerunner 225 ships with a proprietary USB charging cable that is used to sync up to the Garmin Connect website and also charge up the 225.

My first impression was that the FR 225 was very light, especially after I recently finished running with the Polar V800. The Polar V800 weighs in at 79.4 grams compared to just 54 grams for the FR 225.

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While it is light, it is also well constructed with plastic and glass materials. There are five physical buttons used to manipulate the device since the display is not a touchscreen model. As in most of these Garmin units, there is a wide bezel around the 1 inch diameter viewable display.

The buttons are used for the backlight, running mode, back, and then up and down in lists. The start/stop running button is also used as the select button within lists.

On the back you will find a Mio technology heart rate monitor and four gold pins for connecting via the USB cable. The heart rate monitor seems to do a great job while running. You can manually scroll through your daily activity data and choose to have your current heart rate reading captured. However, this data is not recorded anywhere so is only viewable to you right after you take it.

There is a rubber seal on the back to improve the heart rate capture by blocking out light from impacting the optical sensor. This is a replaceable piece of material with spares available for $5.

Garmin Forerunner watch software

While the display is locked, you can press the bottom left up and down buttons to scroll through some daily activity data while the time remains active on most of the display. You can view steps taken, step goal, calories burned, calorie goal, and your current heart rate.

A red circle will also appear on the standby screen that is used as a motivator to get you up and moving. If you are active all the time nothing will appear, but the longer you sit then the more the red moves around the circle. To clear the circle and word move, you need to get up and move around. The more red there is the more you have to move to clear it.

Once you unlock the watch, by pressing in on the run start/stop button, you will see run appear with the ability to press the start/stop button once more and be off and running. Above the word run appears GPS, Bluetooth to your phone, and heart rate status icons.

You can scroll down to training, history, records, and settings areas where even further details and settings can be selected for your preferred viewing experience. You can setup two workout screens of data with three lines on each screen. Your heart rate will appear on a third workout screen so the six available slots should be fine for most runners.

You can also add an external heart rate monitor if you prefer to use a more accurate chest strap. Activity tracking can also be toggled off if you don't care about capturing your activity for the other 23 hours you are not working out.

Garmin Connect smartphone app

Garmin Connect is available for iOS and Android. It functions the same as the software I detailed for the Garmin Vivoactive.

The main page is called the dashboard. You control what is shown on the dashboard and in what order the data appears. Tapping on any line of data will take you into more screens that show data details, trends, and much more. There is a vast amount of data collected and available for you to study and use for managing your training regime.

Sleep data is captured, but the presentation of that data is lame. You only see a rather strange graph that shows you how low to high movement was captured with a total time of sleep. There is no information on light vs heavy sleep, how many times you were awakened, or any other statistic we see in other ecosystems. I hope to see Garmin improve the sleep tracking module.

Details of your different sports activities are available right in the phone app. This information includes things like activity lists, earned badges, calories burned, challenge status, courses, leaderboard, personal records, golf scores and stats, friend lists, and more. You can setup LiveTrack if you run with a connected phone so that people can track you during your activity. This is interesting for those times when you run races, but you do still need a phone to use this function.

Garmin Connect website

The Garmin Connect website is similar to what you find in the smartphone app, but even more vast. You can setup custom dashboards with different widgets that can be dragged and dropped around the screen. You can tap the gear icon in the corner of each widget to see more information and data trends. You could easily spend hours diving into all of the data found on the Garmin Connect website.

Data from your Forerunner 225 is synced to the website through your phone or PC. You can also export some of the data to standard files. For example, I export my GPS run data and then import it into RunKeeper since that is the standard running platform I use to share my information with friends.

The Garmin Connect website is a data hound's dream and I honestly could spend hours browsing through all of my captured data to figure out strategies for improving and setting realistic goals. No other ecosystem I have tried provides access to so much data.

You can select training plans and schedule workouts so the Garmin Connect website can be your one-stop shop for fitness and health management.

Pricing

The Garmin Forerunner 225 is available now for $299.99. When you have the Vivoactive at $249.99 with multi-sport and smartphone notification support, I have a hard time justifying the $50 to get the heart rate monitoring functionality. I suppose Garmin wants a price differential, but I would think something like $269.99 may be better for this device.

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

The Garmin Forerunner 225 improves upon the Forerunner 220 so if you like the 220 and want to add in a heart rate monitor and daily tracking then this may be the perfect device for you.

The Forerunner 225 is solely focused on the runner and it does a fantastic job at providing a reliable, long-lasting GPS watch for this activity. I found the heart rate monitor to match my Apple Watch almost exactly and is likely good enough for the recreational runner who is looking for a mid-range GPS watch.

I understand that regular heart rate monitoring can impact the battery life, but I would still like Garmin to record the heart rate reading when I manually initiate it or let me setup automatic recording at a specified time interval. There is value in resting heart rate readings and heart rate measuring when you are sleeping.

The Garmin Forerunner 225 also acts as a good daily activity tracker with a motivation reminder to get up and move if you have been stationary for too long.

My primary form of exercise is running so I am seriously considering the Garmin Forerunner 225. The amound of data collected is fantastic and even if I use my iPhone to collect data when I cycle, I can import that data into Garmin Connect and have one ecosystem to capture it all. I would like to see some basic smartphone notifications, even just what the Fitbit Surge offers with phone calls and text messages, as that would keep it on my wrist all day.

Specifications

Miscellaneous
Sensors accelerometer, heart rate
Color Category black
Protection shockproof, waterproof
Battery
Run Time (Up To) 10 sec
Technology lithium ion
Style
Product type GPS receiver
Header
Brand Garmin
Product Line Garmin Forerunner
Model 225
Packaged Quantity 1
Features
Sensors accelerometer, heart rate
Dimensions & Weight
Width 11.3 in
Depth 1.9 in
Height 0.6 in
Weight 1.9 oz

Where To Buy

Price
$299.99

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Where To Buy

Garmin Forerunner 225

Part Number: 010-01472-10
Price
$299.99