Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS Watch Review & Comparison

Last Updated: May 28, 2022

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Garmin Forerunner 45

The Garmin Forerunner 45 is not the running watch you go for if you are into aesthetics – it has a basic watch design, but that’s not to mean it isn’t a feature-rich Garmin running watch.

Its 208 X 208 – pixel color display and low profile design compared to most sports watches make it ideal for women and men with slimmer wrists.

It includes many options, including GPS, wrist-based heart rate monitor, activity tracking features, VO2 max score, and a colored screen, among other options.

Majorly, the forerunner 45 is designed for runners, and thus many of the features are suited for tracking running stats.

Garmin Forerunner 45 Overview

Key Features

  • Clock Features: GPS time sync, stopwatch, timer, automatic daylight saving time, alarm clock, etc.
  • Health Monitoring: Abnormal heart rate alerts, daily heart rate, all-day stress, relaxation breathing timer, body battery energy monitor.
  • Sensors: GLONASS, GPS, Accelerometer, Garmin Elevate Wrist Heart Rate Monitor, Galileo, etc.
  • Daily Smart Features: Weather, calendar, smart notifications, Connect IQ, Smartphone Music, etc.
  • Activity Tracking Features: Calories burned, intensity minutes, distance traveled, steps counter, auto goal, etc.


  • Lens Material: Tempered glass
  • Strap Material: Silicone
  • Display Size: 1.04” diameter
  • Color Display: Yes
  • Display Resolution: 208 x 208 pixels
  • Physical Size: 42 X 42 X 11.4mm
  • Weight: Large – 36 grams, Small – 32 grams
  • Battery Life: The watch can last up to 7 days in smartwatch mode and up to 13 hours in GPS mode
  • Memory/History: 200 hours of data
  • Water Rating: 5 ATM

Garmin Forerunner 45 Design, Hardware, and Sensors

One main difference between the Forerunner 45 and its predecessor (Forerunner 35) is the shape. While the previous model had a square-shaped design, the 45 is rounded, just like recent Garmin releases.

The smaller version, called the 45S, comes in 39mm, while the standard version has a 42mm case size.

In terms of display, the forerunner 45 uses a transflective memory-in-pixel technology, which makes it easily visible in bright light. What else? It has a 1.04-inch color display and a 208 X 208-pixel resolution.

In addition, it has navigation buttons on either side of the display. On the right side, you find two buttons.

The top button is the timer button and acts as the select control, while the other button is the back button and returns you to previous windows. It also records laps during activity tracking.

The left side is home to three buttons, with the top button controlling power, backlight, and toggling the controls menu, while the middle button helps you scroll up through the widgets. Use the bottom button to access music controls.

The buttons are much similar to the other Forerunner options such as the Forerunner 945.

Overall, we didn’t find issues navigating the Forerunner 45. However, for people who have never used a Garmin watch before, it may take some time to get used to the controls.

Like many of Garmin’s high-end models, the Forerunner 45 has a silicone strap. However, it lacks a quick-release design that lets you easily swap different bands without using tools. To change its straps, you’ll need to use a screwdriver.

However, the good thing is that the silicone band is flexible, soft, and sweatproof, making it comfortable to wear during workouts or everyday activities.

The smaller version (45S) weighs 32g, while the large version (45) weighs 35g. Both are lightweight and low profile that you will barely feel it on your wrist.In terms of sensors, Garmin has a heart rate sensor on its back to keep tabs on your pulse rate. The wrist-based heart rate monitor illuminates your wrist using an LED light to know how quickly blood flows through your veins. This data is then used to calculate your heart rate.

Fitness Features and Accuracy

If you are a runner, you will find most of the features in this Forerunner 45 watch handy. The watch features an accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor, and a GPS with GLONASS system. Also, it has a 5ATM water-resistance rating, which means it is safe to wear in the shower and swimming pools.

In addition, the watch has modes for running and cycling, as well as an indoor track, elliptical, cardio, yoga, and treadmill.

While in running and cycling mode, you will track stats like distance, heart rate, pace, and time. To have a clear view of all your stats, sync the watch with the Garmin Connect app.

Accuracy-wise, the Forerunner is pretty consistent. Our tests on step count, distance tracking, and heart rate monitor were pretty consistent and accurate.

General Features and Battery Life

Despite its affordable price tag, the Forerunner 45 packs a host of features that make it feel more like a premium watch. From having a stable GPS connection to offering training recommendations thanks to integration with Garmin Coach.

The watch can track all the essential metrics you want, including distance, time, and pace. Add the heart rate monitoring to give you an idea of how strenuous your workout was, an alarm clock, stopwatch, and a timer, and you got yourself a training watch that doubles as an everyday watch.

What’s more? The Garmin Forerunner 45 includes activity tracking. The watch counts the number of steps you make all day and sets goals based on your average level of activities in the past couple of days.

There is also a move bar that shows your inactivity level. If you sit for too long, it reminds you to move around.

In addition, the 45 estimates your VO2 max, which is the oxygen saturation in the blood during intense exercise.

It also estimates your energy reserves based on your activity level, heart rate, and stress, thanks to the Body Battery feature. A higher figure on this tab means you have more energy to go ahead with your workouts or activities and vice versa.

In addition to showing you the number of calories you burn and monitoring your sleep, the Forerunner can also give you smartphone notifications when connected to your smartphone via the Garmin Connect App.

Once paired, you can receive calls and get text notifications through your phone. If connected to an Android phone, the watch allows you to send customized quick replies or customized text messages. In addition, the phone allows for syncing with fitness apps such as Strava and MyFitnessPal.

Additionally, the watch has Garmin’s safety and tracking feature, including incident detection, which sends alerts to predefined contacts if you crash when running or cycling.

There is also a LiveTrack feature, which allows your predefined contacts of family and friends to track your workout sessions. However, you need to have your smartphone connected for these features to work as the watch lacks cellular connectivity.

Another feature worth mentioning is access to the Garmin Connect IQ store, a feature absent in the Forerunner 35. However, on the downside, this integration is limited – you can only download different watch faces; downloading 3rd party apps is not possible.

The watch also lacks onboard music storage, although you can control the music on your smartphone from your watch.In terms of battery life, the Forerunner 45 can last up to a week (7 days) in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode.

Garmin Forerunner 45 Sleep Tracking Features

The Forerunner 45 also tracks sleep data pretty accurately, at least the hours that you have slept, correctly identifying the times you wake up and go to bed.

You will see your sleep time in the app – how long you were in deep, REM, and light sleep stages. All these will help you track your health and recovery.

Sometimes the accuracy leaves you scratching your head but the same can be said for most watches that track sleep.

Just like we’ve said in our reviews on the other garmin running watches, is that its better than nothing.

Tracking your sleep with the Garmin will show you consistent information. So this can definitely be used to build an average for yourself and then check on subsequent days if you’re getting more or less sleep.

Overall its a great feature to benchmark your hours of sleep.

What We Liked

  • Wrist-monitoring heart-rate technology: The Garmin Forerunner 45 has a smart technology that monitors your heart rate through the wrist. The Forerunner 45 displays daily heart rate as well as abnormal heart rate alerts.
  • Banded in silicone: Have you ever worn a wristwatch and went for a run only to return home with a sore wrist? This is common with many watches due to the type of band material used. The Garmin Forerunner 45 has a silicone band that’s sweatproof and resists moisture build-up underneath the wrist during runs.
  • Long-lasting battery: One of the standout features of this Garmin watch is its stellar battery life that can last for extended periods between charges. For instance, in smartwatch mode, this device can last up to seven days between charges, while in GPS mode, the watch can last up to 13 hours.
  • Personalized workouts: The Forerunner 45 also supports Garmin Coach, which means you can have personalized training plans to guide you through your runs. With this feature, you can reach your goals when your fitness regime seems more like a chore.
  • Lightweight: The Forerunner 45 is lightweight as it weighs between 32 – 36 grams, which means it will not bog you down when working out.
  • The body battery energy monitoring feature helps to analyze your energy reserves, so you can optimize your workouts and rests.

What We Didn’t Like

  • Cheap-looking Design: Though this smartwatch has a colored display, it still looks basic. In addition, its plastic design makes it look cheap
  • Lack of 3rd party app support means there are limitations on some functionality. One of the convenient abilities smartwatches offer is the ability to customize the watch with third-party apps that track activities in ways that you enjoy. With the Forerunner 45, you have to use its features exclusively.
  • No swimming mode: While the watch has a 5ATM waterproof rating, it has no functionalities to record your swims. This makes it not ideal for triathletes. Yes, you can take it into the water to a depth of 50 meters, but it will not track your swimming progress. The waterproof rating is just meant to keep it safe from moisture build-up and sweat.

Garmin Forerunner 45 Comparisons

Polar Ignite

If you are looking for an alternative to the 45 in the same price range, Polar Ignite will appeal to you. From the specification point of view, the Polar Ignite is a far more versatile sports tracker than the Forerunner 45.

Not only will it give better training recommendations but also offer more accurate and detailed sleep tracking details that include heart rate variability and breathing rate. It also supports swimming modes.

Many have said that they’ve reached better GPS accuracy with the Garmin though.

You will find that otherwise, the two are quite common so check out both and see what might be a better fit.

Garmin Forerunner 245

The Garmin Forerunner 245 will be a great step up into an intermediate level watch with Garmin that boasts more features such as swim tracking.

The Forerunner 245 also has a music option so that you can listen to your favorite tracks from Amazon music or Spotify on your runs.

The 245 also has more advanced training features such as your training status which tells you if you have been productive, as well as your training effect (How well your aerobic and anaerobic fitness is going)

If you are an endurance runner the 245 is a better choice as it gets 24 hours on GPS mode whilst the Forerunner 45 only gets half of that at 13 hours.

FAQ on the Garmin Forerunner 45

Is the Forerunner 45 waterproof?

Yes, the smartphone has a 5ATM waterproof rating, meaning it can be water-resistant up to a depth of 50 meters. However, it lacks a built-in swimming mode, which means it won’t track your progress in the water.

What is the difference between the Garmin Forerunner 45 and 45S?

The two versions are pretty alike as they pack similar features and technology, with the only difference between them lying on their sizes. The 45 has a 42mm case, while the 45S is relatively smaller with a 39mm casing.

Does Forerunner 45 support music play?

Unfortunately, this smartwatch doesn’t come with onboard music storage, which means you cannot play music directly on the smartwatch.

However, it does allow one to use it to control the music playing on your smartphone. Also, it allows for connection with Spotify, which means you can sync your playlist on Spotify and play it via the watch.

Does Forerunner 45 have Bluetooth?

Yes, the Forerunner 45 is compatible with Bluetooth connectivity. However, it only pairs with the Garmin Connect Mobile app, which means it will not pair directly through a device outside of the company’s app.

Does the Forerunner 45 track calories?

Yes, the watch has activity-tracking features, and you can see the number of calories you have burnt while doing your daily activities.

Final Thoughts

Whereas many beginner running watches offer the bare minimum, the Forerunner 45 goes beyond the standard features to suit fitness enthusiasts. The watch packs all the essential features to track your activities, and its long battery life means it can last you through your lasts and workouts.

Its accurate wrist-based heart rate monitoring sensor, as well as the inclusion of VO2 max and Garmin Coach, makes this an excellent beginner-friendly smartwatch.

It is an ideal GPS running watch for beginner runners, runners looking for an affordable tracking watch, and experienced runners who only want to track the basics (distance, time, and pace).

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