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Garmin has been an industry leader in GPS technology for a long time.

They’ve begun creating GPS-based fitness trackers that you can easily wear around your wrist. One of the most popular trackers is the Forerunner line.

There are a number of different Forerunner products, each with slightly different specifications and features to suit your needs.

The Forerunner 230 and 235 were released at the same time. Though the models are very similar, there is one key difference: heart monitoring.

Comparison Table: Garmin Forerunner 235 vs 230

Product NameContinuous Heart Monitoring Battery (Full Use) Battery (Watch)
#1. Forerunner 235
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Yes 11 hours 9 days
#2. Forerunner 230

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No16 hours 5 weeks

Wrist Base HR Tracking

The most notable difference between the two units is that the Forerunner 235 has wrist base heart rate tracking, while the 230 does not.

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The Forerunner 235 utilizes Garmin Elevate technology. Three LED lights shine on your wrist capillaries, analyzing the movement and calculating the pulse.

With the Forerunner 230, you have to use a chest strap to calculate your heart rate. The FR 235 collects heart rate information automatically as soon as it’s on your wrist.

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Regardless of the watch you use, the algorithm that calculates your burned calories is more accurate with heart rate data.

For this reason, the FR 235 is more convenient for measuring calorie expenditure than the FR 30. Since it automatically collects information about your heart rate every time you run, you have a better context about the distance and speed data you receive.

Continuous Heart Rate Monitoring

The FR 235 has potential uses beyond exercising. If you wear it constantly, it’ll record data about your heart rate throughout the day.

You’ll learn about vital signs like your resting pulse. The FR 230 doesn’t have this capability. As far as battery goes, the FR 235 can track your heart rate continuously for a stunning 9 days before needing a new battery.

When continuous heart rate data is collected, it’s translated into an easily-read graph on the screen. The graph shows the overall readings for the last four hours. Based on your settings, the graph will color code the data based on the level of intensity you’ve reached.

Battery Life

The FR 230 has significantly more battery life than the FR 235. Since the FR 235 is constantly using the Garmin Elevate technology to monitor your pulse, the battery drains much faster.

When the FR 235 is being used as a standard watch, it can give you 9 days of battery life and continuous heart monitoring.

When being used as an exercise tracker with GPS capabilities and heart rate monitoring, the battery lasts for a maximum of 11 hours.

If you don’t use a chest strap, the FR 230 will give you five weeks of performance when in standard watch mode.

When in exercise mode, it provides a maximum of 16 hours of power, significantly more than the FR 235.

Color Choice

There are a variety of color options available for both models. If you get the FR 235 with higher specs, you have a choice between Black and Red; Frost Blue and Marsala; and Black and Grey.

The FR 230 is available in much louder colors, with both a Purple and Force Yellow option. If you prefer a more refined, neutral tone, you can also get the FR 230 in black and white.

One nice thing is that you don’t have to feel restricted to one color scheme. Every strap color is compatible with every watch, so if you really want to, you can mix and match the color palettes to your heart’s content.


The features are largely the same for both the FR 230 and FR 235.

Each model can store 200 hours of activity data. You can peruse that history. There’s also the GPS and GLONASS tracking that’s long been a part of the Garmin brand.

A number of smart features are available to use daily. You can connect to Wi-Fi or other devices. Thanks to the Connect IQ technology, you can download apps, widgets, data fields, and watch faces onto the tracker.

You also get smart notifications, the ability to control your smartphone music, and general smartphone compatibility.

You can keep track of your calendar and the weather. Plus, you have compatibility with Garmin Connect technology. The LiveTrack system is a good safety tool that can track your location in real time.

As for activity tracking, you get a suite of awesome features. There’s basic data like the steps you’ve taken, the distance traveled, and the calories burned. The tracker also records the minutes of intensity.

But on top of that, the tracker will monitor your sleep and motivate you with a “move” bar. The move bar encourages you to move after you’ve been inactive for a while.

The system also learns about your average activity level and assigns you a step goal for each day based on it.

You have several highly customizable features as well. You can customize your activity profiles and data pages, customize your alerts, choose which training plans to download, and pick audio prompts. You’ll have access to advanced workouts and aerobics as well.

The interface is super easy to use, and the daily motivations like the automatic step goal are a great way to increase your fitness activity.

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Final Thoughts

When it comes down to it, the biggest deciding factor in whether to purchase a Forerunner 230 or Forerunner 235 is whether you want continuous heart monitoring.

If you’re a fan of the convenience and accuracy of instant heart monitoring, the FR 235 is a good choice. However, if you’re not particularly invested in having your heart rate monitored, the FR 230 is a cheaper option with a longer battery life.

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