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Hands on: Garmin Forerunner 745 review

New workout insights and smartwatch features, for less than you might expect

What is a hands on review?
Garmin Forerunner 745
(Image: © Michael Sawh)

Early Verdict

The Garmin Forerunner 745 looks to be another sports watch that offers a good mix of tracking and smartwatch features. The steps being made to help users think more about how you should train and how you think about your recovery along with new workout recommendations are welcome additions. The price certainly raises some eyebrows when you compare it to other Forerunners and rival watches, so our full review will certainly reveal if Garmin has got this right.

For

  • Training advice and workout recommendations
  • New smartwatch features
  • Low price for a high-end Forerunner

Against

  • Pricier than similar Coros tri watches

Garmin has officially announced the Forerunner 745, the latest addition to its sports watch collection that appears to complete a refresh of the Forerunner line.

The 745 is a more affordable running and triathlon option that looks to be the long term replacement for the 735XT, sitting in between the Forerunner 645 and fellow tri-friendly Forerunner 945.

It’s bringing more smartwatch features to make the 735XT start to feel a little old with some other new insights that could be really useful when you’re ramping up your training.

Garmin has done a pretty good job of offering great Forerunner options for beginners all the way up to the more data obsessed. The 745 looks set to build on that by offering something that’s a good fit for triathlons that doesn’t cost as much as the top end 945.

Garmin Forerunner 745 price and release date

The Garmin Forerunner 745 is available to buy now from Garmin’s website and is priced at £449.99 (about $580 / AU$790). That’s roughly $230 / £150 / AU$190 more than the Forerunner 735XT and $20 / £70 less than the Forerunner 945.

There's currently a special deal on the Forerunner 945 in Australia that brings its price down to $749, making it cheaper than the new 745.

There are also additional bands available that are priced at £29.99 (about $40 / AU$50), which are cheaper than the official straps for the Forerunner 945 and around the same price as the official Forerunner 245 straps.

Garmin Forerunner 745

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

Design and display

The Garmin Forerunner 745 follows the same design language as the Forerunners that sit above and below it. It’s got a fully round 43mm polymer case that measures in at 13.3mm thick and weighs 47g. 

Compare those dimensions to the 735 XT and you’re getting something that’s smaller but thicker. It also looks smaller on the wrist compared to the 945 and is only slightly bigger and thicker than the 245. It feels like a small watch on the wrist as well, and certainly doesn’t feel heavy to run with.

It’s paired up with a 22mm silicone band that are interchangeable and as a package it’s slapped with a 5ATM water rating, making it safe for showering and swimming.

Garmin Forerunner 745

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

If you care about color options, there are four looks to choose from, with your pick of Black, Neo Tropic (a type of mint green), Magma Red and Whitestone. These are colors that you will find across other Forerunners like the 45 and the 245.

Garmin includes its typical five physical button array and a 1.2-inch, 240 x 240 transflective display, which means it matches the 245 for size and resolution. We didn’t expect it to get the same colour display treatment as the Garmin Venu, and the screen choice should ensure it's suitable to view in bright light or when you hit the pool.

Ultimately, Garmin hasn’t done anything radically different here on the design front. It has brought the 745 in line with other Forerunner watches, made it a smaller watch to train with and stuck to a trusted formula.

Garmin Forerunner 745

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

Features and fitness

Sports and fitness tracking is unsurprisingly at the core of the 745 and you’re getting plenty in the way of what you can track, metrics you can see and thinking more about the effects of your training schedule.

Looking at the sensors, you’re getting GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellite systems to cover tracking outdoor activities. You can upload routes to follow on the watch from Garmin’s own route builder or from the likes of Strava and Koomoot.

There’s Garmin’s Elevate heart rate monitor around the back, and you have ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity to pair additional sensors including Garmin’s Varia and Vector devices and Garmin’s new HRM Pro heart rate monitor strap. You’re also getting a SpO2 sensor, which has been rolling out onto most of Garmin’s watches.

Garmin Forerunner 745

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

In terms of dedicated sports modes, you’re getting the ability to track runs, treadmill running, cycling (indoor and outdoors), pool and open water swimming and of course there is a triathlon mode. There are plenty of other sports profiles to tap into whether you’re off skiing or having a Zwift session. You’re getting access to Garmin Coach to follow training plans for races here, too.

We took it out for a run, and it’s all pretty familiar stuff if you’ve used other new Forerunners. There was only a slight difference in the distance tracked and with metrics like average pace. Heart rate data though was largely in line with a MyZone chest strap monitor we tested it against.

Where the 745 really feels like an upgrade on the 735XT are the richer training insights. Once you’ve logged enough workouts, you’ll now see Training Status and Training Load insights powered by the now Garmin-owned Firstbeat as well as heat and altitude acclimation insights. It’s also introducing a new Recovery Advisor that will tell you when you need to rest before another big session taking into account stress measurements, sleep and other daily workouts.

Another interesting new feature seems to be inspired by Polar’s FitSpark feature, with the 745 able to recommend daily workouts for cyclists and runners. We’ve not had enough time with the watch to be able to get an idea of what those recommendations look like, but it’s good to see a feature like this.

Garmin Forerunner 745

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

As a smartwatch, you’re getting pretty much everything Garmin has to offer on that front. It’s compatible with Android and iOS to bring notifications, Garmin Pay support, a music player for up to 500 songs and offline support for services like Spotify. There’s also Wi-Fi to offer another connectivity option for data syncing. You will of course get access to Connect IQ, to get your fill of apps, widgets, data fields.

In terms of battery life, you can expect up to one week in smartwatch mode, up to 6 hours in GPS mode with music and up to 16 hours in GPS mode. There’s also an UltraTrac mode that gives you 21 hours. That’s no doubt enough battery to get you through a triathlon and  also very similar battery numbers to the likes of the Forerunner 645.

Early verdict

The 745 feels like another solid addition to the Forerunner family. It’s made some notable improvements on the 735XT, while new and improved training-focused features like Recovery Advisor and workout recommendations are features we are intrigued by. We will have to spend much more time with it to see how these features work.

What’s interesting here is the pricing. At £449.99 (about $580 / AU$790), it’s considerably less than the Forerunner 945. However, the emergence of Coros watches that offer tri features for a lot less money mean it feels quite pricey for the addition of a tri mode.

The question is whether these software extras really set the 745 apart from the rest of the Forerunner range and cheaper rival watches as well. If those new features are impressive, Garmin could have another solid sports watch in its ranks.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.