Garmin Vivoactive HR vs. Forerunner 235 – Which One Is the Best?


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Watches enabled with GPS, which are designed for those with active lifestyles, have been around for a while now.

And given the endless technological advances in the smart products department, they have evolved incredibly over just a few years.

This also means that there is a lot of choices for users to pick from when it comes to these watches.

There are a few brands that really ace the delivery of top tier GPS watches and none more talked about than Garmin.

This article will be discussing Garmin Vivoactive HR vs. Forerunner 235, comparing the features, pros, and cons of two of the best mid-range GPS sports watches from the same brand so that you can pick the one that is for you.

Garmin Vivoactive HR vs. Forerunner 235

Garmin Vivoactive HR

Garmin Vivoactive HR

Starting off with the Garmin Vivoactive HR, this is truly a do-all sports watch. It has the rectangular face of modern smart sports watches and is lightweight.

What really sets it apart is how versatile it is in terms of the range of sports it supports.

This will be a great pick for you if you are a sports enthusiast who likes to dabble in a variety of sports.

The watch supports regular sports such as running (both indoor and outdoor), walking, cycling, swimming, as well as snowboarding, rowing, skiing, golfing, and many more.

It has a touch screen for ease of use besides two buttons. Both GPS and Glonass are built into it, so it has added reliability.

The watch monitors your heart rate 24/7 and also monitors sleep, providing you with data that can help you adjust your lifestyle according to your health goals.

It connects and syncs with your smartphone so that you can see all your important notifications on the watch itself while you are doing an activity.

Most importantly, the battery is quite long-lasting. It can work well for anywhere between 5 and 8 days without being charged.


  • Can be used to track a wide variety of sports besides just running, and you can also add sports that are not listed
  • Provides concise stats on speed, time, distance, etc.
  • Smart notifications let you view notification previews from your smartphone
  • The more affordable option for a GPS and Glonass built-in smartwatch
  • Waterproof for up to 50 meters deep
  • Sleep monitor and 24/7 heart rate monitor allow you to customize your lifestyle better
  • Battery can last up to a week (or more) without charging


  • The rectangular shape and typical sports watch look may not suit everyone
  • Does not have many training resources such as planners, calendars, etc.

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Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Forerunner 235

Our second contender is the Garmin Forerunner 235. The first thing you need to know about this sports watch is that it specializes in tracking indoor/outdoor running and cycling.

This means that it is the ideal smartwatch for pro and hardcore runners. It has a round watch face, which gives it a simple and sophisticated look.

The watch is controlled using the buttons placed around its sides. It can track your sleep and monitor your heart rate throughout the day to give you relevant stats.

This watch also has a long battery life of a week or so without needing to be charged.

Even though it is meant for runners, this watch is still waterproof up to 50 meters and has an easily readable screen, which is great for the outdoors.

Another reason for its popularity is how lightweight (and therefore comfortable) it is.

This also lets you see notifications from your smartphone so that you don’t miss out on anything while running or biking.

The audio prompts from your smartphone to the watch can let you know when a lap is completed and its duration.


  • Sleek and round shape, just like a traditional wristwatch
  • 24/7 heart rate monitor calculates the amount of calories burned throughout the day
  • Highly accurate sleep monitor helps improve sleeping patterns
  • Battery will last an average of 5 days and a maximum of 8 days without recharging
  • A perfectly tailored smart/sports watch for hardcore runners
  • Has a weightless feel, which is great during longer runs or cycling sessions
  • Features a multitude of training features such as training plans, calendars, race predictor, recovery advisor, etc.


  • Does not let you track a variety of sports other than indoor/outdoor running and cycling
  • This is priced on the higher end for current sports and smartwatches
  • Does not have a touch screen

Related Guide: Running Watches Under 200 Dollars

Garmin Vivoactive HR vs Garmin Forerunner 235

Being products of the same brand, these two smartwatches have a lot in common.

Both let you control the music you are listening to, both have the signature Garmin Connect IQ feature, and you can get notifications from your smartphone as well as calendar and weather features from both watches.

Given all these similarities, it is clear that highlighting their differences will help you pick the one which is best for you.


This is the first difference between the two watches that you will probably notice.

While the Forerunner 235 has a round and traditional watch face, the Vivoactive HR has the run of the mill rectangular sports watch look.

Many seem to prefer the familiar design of the Forerunner 235, but it comes down to your own preference.


Although prices vary for both of these depending on where you buy them from, or the time of year, the Forerunner 235 is always a good chunk more expensive than the Vivoactive HR.

That said, someone who wants a specialist sports watch for runners will be fully willing to pay the high price for the Forerunner 235, while others who need more options for sports will go for the cheaper Vivoactive HR.

Range of Supported Sports

Range of Supported Sports

Speaking of which, another most notable difference between the two is that the Forerunner 235 is the holy grail smartwatch for runners and cyclists, while the Vivoactive HR offers a massive range of choice when it comes to the sports it supports.

The list of sports supported by the Vivoactive HR include running, cycling, swimming and pool swimming, snowboarding, skiing, and even golfing.

Touch Screen

This does not matter to everyone, but an important difference to note is the means of operation of the two watches.

The Vivoactive HR has a great touch screen so that you can navigate its features with just the tip of your finger, while the Forerunner has to be operated using buttons placed around its circumference.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the better watch for runners: Garmin Vivoactive HR or Forerunner 235?

While the Vivoactive HR supports a wide array of sports, including running, the Forerunner is a sports watch meant to be used by runners and cyclists specifically.

Do both the Forerunner 235 and Vivoactive HR have touch screens?

No, only the Vivoactive HR has a touch screen while the Forerunner can be operated using buttons.

Which of the two has a longer-lasting battery?

Given that these are both from the same brand, it should come as no surprise that they both have pretty long battery lives of up to 8 days, with the average being at least 5 days.

Can I swap out the original band strap for a different one?

Yes, the great thing about both of these watches is that the band straps can be taken out and replaced by any of the numerous color and design options that are available on the market.

Can I see my smartphone’s notifications on the Forerunner 235 or the Vivoactive HR?

Both of these sports watches will connect to your smartphone and allow you to glance through your notifications as they arrive, without interrupting your workout flow.


Between the Garmin Vivoactive HR vs. Forerunner 235, neither is bad at all because they are different enough to cater to users with different needs.

So, once you know exactly what you will be using your smart/sports watch for, you can rest assured and get whichever of the two you need because either one will be a superb choice.


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