Garmin Forerunner 645 impressions & opinion

Garmin Forerunner 645 impressions

The Garmin Forerunner 645 is a vivoactive 3 really without music storage. Garmin should have launched music with the Vivoactive 3 last year to be totally honest. But they may have been a whole host of reasons why from not being ready with the streaming partners or not having the music component of the software ready to launch with the Vivoactive 3.

Since Garmin announced the FR645 at CES 2018, Active JR has been inundated with questions if they should choose the Forerunner 645 over say a Vivoactive 3 or should they ditch the music and go the full hog and get an FR935 or a Fenix 5 with more advanced features.

Garmin Forerunner 645 impressions

Whilst I will be pulling a full review towards the end of January, I wanted to go over the key details of the Garmin Forerunner 645 and show you what is added and what is missing that could tempt you towards another fitness watch.

Similar design with key differences

  • Similar design to the Vivoactive 3
  • No touchscreen or sapphire screen
  • Same optical HR as the Fenix 5

Design wise its the same more or less as the Vivoactive 3 and it’s only if you look closer do you see the difference as the Vivoactive 3 only has one button were as the FR645 has numerous buttons to navigate the interface due to it not having a touchscreen.

Garmin Forerunner 645 workout

Speaking of the Forerunner 645 screen, its 240×240 pixels and as I have already said it’s not touchscreen. The FR645 does not come with a sapphire screen option, whilst this is not a surprise given the price it would have been nice to pay a little more to get a sapphire screen.

Garmin has included the same HR sensor as the Fenix 5 and Vivoactove 3 which is informally known as the 2017 optical HR sensor.At the back along with the HR sensor is the charging port, but it does not have the same charging port found on the Fenix 5 or the Vivoactive 3 despite Garmin promising to standardise the ports as much as possible.

Sports & fitness

  • No tri or multi-sport mode or open water swimming
  • Comes with Garmin’s strength and rep counting
  • No power meter support for cycling

The Garmin FR645 is more or less in line with the FR935 for sports tracking with lots of sports profiles from running, swimming, cycling and Garmin’strength and rep counting which was introduced in Late 2017 to the FR935 and the Fenix 5 series.

Whilst it does have a host of sports tracking and more than enough for the average user, it does have some odd exclusions

Garmin Forerunner 645 training

No Open water swimming

The Garmin FR645 does not have an open water swimming sports profile which is a real surprise given the cheaper FR735 has it. This will be a disappointment to anyone that was looking forward to the FR645 that are open water swimmers. Whilst its excluded now, I cant see why Garmin could not enable open water swimming in the future.

No multiport mode or tri-mode

Along with no open water swimming, Garmin has also excluded any form of multisport or triathlon mode from the FR645. This again could be enabled with a software update and given other devices have these sports modes then I cannot see why not.

No power meter support for cycling

The final exclusion is no support for cycling power meters on the Forerunner 645. This for me is the oddest feature that has been missed from the FR645. The Garmin FR645 supports cycling and it supports the Varia light and Varia radar, so excluding power meter support is just odd to me.

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Firstbeat training load

Garmin has included the advanced fitness data with firstbeat like on the FR935 and Fenix 5 series. This for me is a great feature inclusion, but further adds to my confusion why Garmin have missed power meter support.

Garmin music player

  • space for up to 500 songs
  • Music Streaming services from Deezer and iheartradio
  • ability to sync DRM free songs from your computer

Whilst some complained back in September 2017 when Garmin released the Vivoactive 3 for the lack of music support, Garmin has now given users the ability to take music with them on their Garmin FR935 and without a phone.Garmin says you can sync about 500 songs from your collection that you already have that is not protected by DRM or you can use services like Deezer or iHeartradio music streaming services.

Garmin Forerunner 645 music

The option to sync music on the FR645 has been well thought out and its a great start with the streaming providers that are available. However, the big question is will we see Spotify on the forerunner 645 and I think this is doubtful in the immediate future due to its exclusive deal with Samsung. I also doubt we will see Apple Music come to the FR645 due to the way that Apple work.

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Smart features

  • Call and text alerts
  • Garmin Pay
  • Garmin Connect mobile

As with nearly all Garmin fitness wearables, the FR645 supports call and text alerts. Whilst you get alerted to texts and calls on the Forerunner 645, you cannot reply to them so if you really wanting to do this then you are better off with an Apple Watch or a Samsung Gear Sport if you are an android user.

Garmin Forerunner 645 smart notifications

Garmin has included Garmin pay on the FR645, but given the available countries being limited currently, you are pretty much out of luck unless you are in the USA or some areas of Europe. Garmin really needs to move faster with the rollout of Garmin Pay if they want it to take off and catch up with its rivals like Apple Pay or Andriod pay.

Should you buy the Garmin Forerunner?

  • Buy the FR645 if you wanted a Vivoactive 3, but want music support
  • Remember that the Forerunner 645 does not support power meters, tri-mode and open water swimming
  • If you don’t need music support either then buy the FR645 non-music version

In my view, the Forerunner 645 is another great middle-level sports watch. Like I said at the beginning music support should have launched last year with the Vivoactive 3. If you have music that you own that is DRM free or use Deezer or iheartradio then The FR645 is a  great fitness watch with music support. Just remember the limitations in terms of no open water swimming, power support and tri-mode and if you need these and not particularly bothered about music support then you may be best with a Fenix 5 or even a Suunto Spart trainer.

The button line is that its great to see Garmin innovating and bring music support to its fitness wearables with the FR645 and I can’t wait to get going with the testing and completing the full review.

Keep checking back for the full review and if you have any comments then leave them below

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  1. I am not sure this is for me. I have been thinking of getting a power meter. Do you think Garmin will enable support in the future?

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Jon Ratcliffe
I have a huge passion for technology having worked in the sector for over 18 years in a variety of roles. I cover Wearables, tech and smart home. My reviews and information will talk about how the product works in reality and not just what the marketing departments want you to think.

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