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Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE review: Connected features for safety and live tracking

Written by Matthew Miller, Contributor

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE

9.8 / 5

pros and cons

  • Integrated, low-cost LTE for safety and sharing
  • Very comfortable and light
  • Long battery life
  • Nearly unlimited customizability of data screens
  • Accurate GPS and heart rate tracking
  • Expensive
  • Only available in black and white

Garmin announced the Forerunner 55 and 945 LTE in early June. I've been testing out a review unit of the 945 LTE for the past two months and it's clearly my favorite Garmin GPS sports watch of 2021 as it serves as a jack-of-all-trades watch where other Garmin watches in my collection specialize in certain activities. With the Forerunner 945 LTE, I have a wearable that does it all and allows me to leave the phone behind.

Also: Best GPS sports watches

The Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE is very similar to the Forerunner 945, but it has a smaller diameter body and includes the next generation of Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor and LTE cellular connectivity. It's also $50 more at launch than the 945, but the LTE is really the focus of the device and it works well for safety and awareness for your friends and family when you go outside to participate in an activity.

The major new feature is the integrated LTE cellular connectivity that gives runners who run with a phone for safety reasons the option to leave the phone at home. Over time Garmin watches added onboard music and Garmin Pay, but contacting someone in an emergency still required you to pack a phone when out for a run, hike, bike ride, walk, or other outside activity. The new Forerunner 945 LTE can be used to send key information through the Garmin (IERCC) International Emergency Response Coordination Center to local emergency services or data directly to your family and friends so they can follow your activity or respond to an incident detection event.

Also: Garmin Forerunner 945 review: Music, mapping, payments, pulse, and incident detection

I enjoy the freedom of running without a phone in a hip bag, armband, or my hand, and safety was the number one reason I continued to run with the phone. I also found I captured photos when running while traveling and until Garmin adds a camera I will continue to do that when I am exercising on my business trips. We'll discuss the details of the LTE connectivity below, but it's great to see Garmin provide this capability for a reasonable monthly fee. This feature makes the Forerunner 945 LTE a GPS sports watch that can serve as your trusted companion without a connected phone.

See also: Garmin Forerunner 745 review: A smaller, lighter option for runners and triathletes

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Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE review: in pictures

LTE connectivity

The LTE cellular connectivity is designed to provide safety and tracking features. It is not present to have the Forerunner 945 LTE watch serve as a smartphone replacement or smartwatch so phone calls, connected apps, streaming music, and other advanced connectivity features are not supported. I've had some people complain of these limitations, but you really need to understand the intent of the LTE connectivity.

The Forerunner 945 LTE is perfect for runners and athletes looking for a watch that will make sure others know they are safe while they train and for alerting emergency services in case of a casualty or other dangerous situation. LTE connected features include:

  • Assistance Plus: When activated, your watch will contact the 24/7 Garmin IERCC monitoring and response service to coordinate with local emergency services and your emergency contacts. Two-way messaging will be carried out between you and the IERCC to resolve the situation.
  • Assistance: Similar to Assistance Plus, but the IERCC will not be contacted and your location will be sent to your emergency contacts only. You can manually initiate an Assistance Plus/Assistance alert by manually holding down the upper left (light) button for several seconds. A prompt will appear to confirm your desired action.
  • Incident detection: An incident detection is triggered automatically when the watch senses that an incident has occurred, such as a fall or crashing into a tree on your bike.
  • LiveTrack: Allows friends or family to follow your activity in real-time. Your selected contacts will receive an invite to follow and will then be shown a map of your progress along with the ability to send you messages.
  • Live event sharing: Live Event Sharing is available only with a connected Android smartphone.
  • Spectator messaging: Friends and family can send you messages via the LiveTrack site and these will appear via LTE or a Bluetooth connection to a local phone.

Unlike the previous Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music that required a Verizon account, Garmin provides subscription plans directly through its own website. Two different plans are available; $6.99 per month for a plan with no annual contract and $5.99/month for a plan with an annual contract. Sign up for the plan is conducted through the Garmin Connect smartphone application after you connect the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE.

All of the same connected features you expect through a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone are also supported by the Forerunner 945 LTE watch. Assistance, LiveTrack, and incident detection are provided with both a Bluetooth connection to your phone and LTE.

Also: Garmin MARQ Golfer review: Virtual caddie contained in a luxurious and powerful GPS sports watch

Also: Garmin Venu 2 GPS sports watch review: A lovely display, long battery life, and extensive health data