Garmin Forerunner 735XT GPS Watch | First Look

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Is the Garmin 735XT simply the latest and greatest running watch that Garmin has to offer? Kind of. With the introduction of this model, it seems at first like Garmin is muddying the waters of running/multisport GPS watches, but there’s more to it than that. The choice no longer seems obvious between the sophisticated running watch, the 630, and the tried-and-true triathlon watch, the 920XT. Never fear, we are here to help put everything in its place by delving into this new model and breaking down the differences and novelties for you.

The 735XT boasts a built-in heart rate monitor, the ability to create swimming workouts, advanced running data, and activity tracking, not to mention tons of other bells and whistles. There’s quite a bit going on with this watch, so to break it down, we will fill you in on how it stacks up to its ‘cousins’, the 630 and 920, and why it comes in three different ‘versions’.

It’s probably easiest to think of this watch as situated squarely between the Forerunner 630 and the Forerunner 920XT. With the running functionality of the 630, and 14 hours of battery life (2 hours less than the 630), the 735XT offers the data-hungry runner a VO2 max estimate, race predictor and recovery advisor. But you can get all of that with the 630. The 735 pulls ahead of the 630 by offering a built-in optical heart rate monitor and multi-sport functionality.

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Similar to the 920XT, the 735XT makes a great triathlon training buddy, as it will track your swim, bike, and run segments all in the same workout. The 735XT also features a similar size and shape to the 630, making it smaller and lighter than the 920XT. Before you ditch your 920 in exchange for the 735, though, note that this new model has a much shorter battery life compared to the 24 hours in training mode offered by the 920. The 735 also uses GPS to provide elevation data, whereas the 920 includes a built-in barometric altimeter for elevation accuracy. One last downside for the triathlete is that the 735 is not compatible with a quick-release kit. All in all, the 735 appears to be a smarter cousin to the 920, which, as DC Rainmaker theorizes, may mean we’ve seen the last update to the 920. That being said, if the battery life, quick release kit, and altimeter are important to you, the 920XT or the Fenix 3 will be better options.

Is there actually anything novel on the 735? Well, yes, but not much. When it comes down to it, besides the mash-up of features we’ve discussed, the only new feature introduced is that the watch will calculate your Strava Suffer Score on the watch itself, as opposed to non-735 users who first need to connect their watch to Strava (this requires premium membership on Strava, but is available on the 735 and using the Connect IQ app). This watch also supports Varia Vision, Garmin’s new heads up display, a plus for the techy triathlete.

Now, to clarify, we are carrying three versions of the 735XT at Running Warehouse. The watch itself comes with the features noted above, and it has a built-in heart rate monitor, which will provide the running metrics previously discussed. If, however, you would like additional functionality, you can buy the 735XT GPS Watch w/HRM-Run. This bundle includes Garmin’s HRM-Run strap, which senses the movement of your core to record stride length, ground contact time, vertical ratio, foot cadence, degree of bounce, and will even provide an estimate of your lactate threshold.

The third option is the 735XT with HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim heart rate straps. The HRM-Tri strap provides the same running metrics as the HRM-Run strap, but is slightly smaller and lighter, but most importantly, will record and store heart rate data during your swim workout and forward the information to your watch once the swim is over. The HRM-Swim strap, on the other hand, does not provide running data, but will provide real-time heart rate information during your swim. This bundle is particularly ideal for triathletes and/or swimmers.

While it seems a little bit indistinct at first glance, the 735XT is a smart choice for triathletes and runners who love the features of the 630 but want a built-in heart rate monitor.

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