Garmin Forerunner 735XT review
Former 220 Editor and author of 'The Science of the Tour de France' James Witts scored Garmin's new multisport watch, the 735XT, 87% when he put it through its paces...
Garmin’s new multisport watch combines many features of its predecessor, the 920XT, with the optical heart-rate capacity of the FR235 and a load of new features to boot.
Optical HR is similar to chest-strap accuracy, especially on the bike, but it can deviate slightly during high-intensity, arm-swinging runs. Garmin isn’t convinced wrist-based HR is reliable enough yet for swimming so you only enjoy the ‘pool beat’ with additional chest strap (which we tested – it’s £359.99 without). You also need this strap for new metrics including lactate and functional threshold. Both are based on heart rate and, though accurate, don’t yet match the results you’d get from blood testing or power meters.
The Strava Suffer Score’s also a new addition – a concession from Garmin that their Connect can’t match the popularity of the omnipresent Strava. The ability to upload structured swim workouts from Garmin Connect is a great addition for the discipline that, you could argue, demands the greatest variety of pacing and intensity to prevent boredom.
As for highlights borrowed from the 920XT, the GPS remains one of the most reliable around; the multisport function allows you to monitor your entire race thanks to a press of a button (yes, it’s non-touchscreen); and you can access widgets at Connect IQ. On the downside, GPS battery life is only 14hrs, so insufficient for some iron athletes, and the wrist strap doesn’t sit flush, leaving a minor but irritating loop.
There’s enough evolution to choose this over the 920XT, though many, like this tester, prefer the look and feel of its slightly bulkier predecessor. We also feel a true development will be when the full gamut of metrics and heart-rate capacity dispenses with the chest strap to become a true all-in-one. We give it two years…
Verdict: superb watch but we're still waiting for the all-in-one option... watch this space for the next iteration