The Garmin Forerunner 25 is one of the newest GPS activity tracking watches to hit the market. In fact it only started retailing 2 weeks ago. While I’ve sang praises about Polar’s M400 as a remarkable sub $200 GPS fitness watch, Garmin’s debutante into this price bracket re-opens the competition.
Boasting an incredible battery life of up to 10 weeks, virtual pacer and smart phone notifications, the Garmin Forerunner 25 looks set to battle it out with its closest competitor from Polar. I’ve had the Forerunner 25 for a week now and here’s what I have to say.
- Tracks steps, distance, pace, calories, personal records, sleep
- Audio beeps for notifications and alarms
- Pairs with ANT+ heart rate monitor or foot pod
- GPS enabled with live tracking function
- Inactivity and smart phone notification
- Virtual Pacer (Compares current pace to target pace)
- Powerful Garmin Connect mobile app
- Multiple running mode selection
- Water resistant to 50m
- Lengthy battery life (8 or 10 weeks)
- Plan training online using Garmin Connect web platform
- Runner focused, lack of other sports profiles
- Compatible with ANT+ sensors only
If you want the details and you should! 🙂 Grab a cup of coffee and read on.
LOOK AND FEEL
There are two versions of the Garmin Forerunner 25; there’s black/red and black/blue for the larger display, and black/purple and white/pink for the smaller face Forerunner 25. The black/red larger display version is the one used for this review. Perhaps Garmin had the ladies in mind when they released a smaller face unit. I’m Asian with a skinny wrist and I thought the Forerunner 25 fit me to a T.
One of the key things you’ll notice is that the watch is incredibly light at just 39 grams for the larger display unit. I love the numerous fitting holes on the watch strap. Now this might seem like no cause for concern but the fit and the weight of the watch allows the Forerunner 25 to stay on the flat of the wrist and not hanging off the wrist bone. There are only 4 buttons.
- Backlight LED
- Back or return
- Down or scroll
- Start or enter
It’s pretty simply to understand. Now because there’s only a single scroll button, it also means in order to select an option, you’re going to have to scroll through all available options. Not a big issue here but just something I thought you should know.
The display is visible in bright day light and the LED backlight ensures visibility during night runs. Even though there is no option to tweak the duration of the LED backlight, it is activated every time a button is depressed; even during the day.
The audio beep is the only form of notification for the Forerunner 25. Be it phone notifications, alarms or even training cues, it’s all beeps. Also you can’t tweak the loudness of the audio beeps so the notifications might get drowned out if you’re out and about in a noisy place.
The Forerunner 25 is both Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ enabled but only ANT+ sensors can connect to the GPS fitness watch.
The charger is proprietary and the Forerunner 25 supposedly lasts up to 10 weeks or 10 hours in training mode. I’ve used the Forerunner 25 for about 5 hours of training, of which 2 hours was with GPS mode, and the battery shows less than 50% juice left. Perhaps I can reach the 10 hours if I had turned off smart notifications.
The Forerunner 25 is also water resistant to 50m.
FUNCTIONS AND DATA PRESENTATION
The Forerunner 25 is first an foremost a GPS watch. It doesn’t have the A-GPS (assisted-GPS) functions like the Polar M400 but it still received GPS signals quickly.
During runs, the user can access 2 displays which will show up to 4 stats (2 per display screen); 3 displays if you wear a HRM.
In the picture above, I’ve opted to display time lapsed, distance for screen 1, followed by pace and average pace for screen 2. The third screen only comes on when a heart rate monitor is connected. Here’s the list of stats you can customise to be displayed on screen.
- Time lapsed
- Lap time
- Lap distance
- Lap pace
- Average Pace
There are also a couple of run modes which the user can choose. If you’re just going for a run, then you’ll have to choose “basic run.” The user can also set parameters such as time, distance or calories to aim towards.
Lap tracking can be automated or manually activated. Even though I’ve set the units to km, the auto-lap kicked in at every mile or roughly 1.6km! You can manually set a lap by pressing the “return key” during a run.
There’s an auto pause function which when enabled, stops the Forerunner 25 from tracking once the user stops moving. This should come in handy when you’re waiting for the traffic lights to go green or waiting for that lull in traffic to cross.
The tracked stats are presented within the Garmin Connect app where the user can choose between standard, satellite or hybrid map of both. You can zoom in and out, review your run, examine the stats at every lap.
I’ve always been impressed with the running metrics Garmin has produced. If you’re looking to improve your run specifically, Garmin’s platform is fantastic.
This function is for those who think they are likely to see portions of run and portions of walk during their activity. With this option activated, the user can set run and walk interval and the Forerunner 25 will take care of the rest by notifying you with beeps once the interval is reached.
It is possible to set a virtual pacer on the Forerunner 25; a phantom running buddy on the watch. The parameter is pace. In my case, I set 5 minutes per km which works out to about 12km/hr or roughly 7.5 miles per hour. The slowest pace you can set for metrics is 8 minutes per km. If audio alerts are enabled, you’ll receive beeps every time you’re ahead or behind the “virtual pacer.”
ANT+ Heart Rate Monitor
Once connected to Garmin’s ANT+ heart rate monitor, the heart rate readings will appear when exercise tracking is initiated and heart rate monitor is detected. No pairing required on my part, I just put on the HR monitor and viola!
You can also set the maximum heart rate and the HR zone for training purposes. When the detected heart rate is too low or too high, the Forerunner 25 will display messages to notify the user. If you’ve set the alert to go off, you’ll also receive a beep with the messages.
What I particularly like is that in addition to the heart rate readings, the Forerunner 25 will also display the zone progress. To give you an example, I could be trying to stay within zone 3 which is about 140-155 bpm. The Forerunner will show zones 3.1 and if I pushed too hard, it’ll eventually increase to 3.8 or 3.9 so the user will know when to slow down rather than an absolute zone 3 or zone 4 reading.
A note of warning, if you’re continuously out of zone, you’ll be beeped, A LOT.
The Garmin Forerunner 25 also has a nifty feature which is not new to the market but interesting nonetheless. Using the accelerometer within the GPS watch, the Forerunner 25 can estimate the distance covered without a foot pod.
First run indoors.
Actual distance: 4.5km. Forerunner 25 tracked distance 6.26km
Second run indoors after one single GPS enabled run
Actual distance 4.76km. Forerunner 25 tracked distance 5.56km.
For me personally, the Forerunner 25 was off on both tests on the treadmill but there were signs of improvement. According to Garmin, the accuracy will improve after a few outdoor runs with GPS enabled.
Smart notifications and alarms
The Garmin Forerunner 25 allows notifications (messages, calls, notifications from mobile apps) from the connected smart phone device to show up on the watch. It also keeps a short history so the user can review previous messages that have showed up on the connected smart phone device.
This function can be switched off easily right from the Forerunner 25. You can’t choose which mobile app will activate the smart notifications though; it’s all or nothing.
It is also possible to set alarms and alerts right from the GPS watch. Once alarm is set, it overrides everything and will go off reliably. One more thing to note, the minutes can only be set at 5 minute intervals and there’s no snooze function.
As the user stays inactive, the “movement bar” will slowly fill up; which is an hour of inactivity. You’ll be notified by a beep and a”Move!” message across the screen that disappears really quickly. Thereafter every additional 15 minutes of inactivity will cause an extra segment to add on. To clear the “movement bar” just get up and walk for a few minutes.
The Forerunner 25 tracks daily activity in the form of steps and sleep. Distance traveled and calories are estimated based on the user’s personal settings and activity levels. You can check the progress throughout the day by depressing the “back” button. The user can scroll through calories burned, date, distance covered, steps taken and goal.
As with most Garmin activity trackers, the Forerunner 25 will learn your activity levels and assign goals for you to hit. So if you hit 7500 today, the Forerunner will increase it slightly for the next day. You can also manually set the goal to hit.
Sleep tracking is automated based on regular sleeping hours which is set in the Garmin Connect mobile app. This also means that sleep will only be detected in the night and there’s no manual activation of sleep tracking. Your siestas will go unnoticed.
Garmin has one of the most, if not already, informative fitness mobile apps on the market. The features available will differ based on the GPS watch or fitness tracker purchased.
You can review data or look for social groups to join. Garmin has another nifty feature that places you among groups of individuals who are in the same activity level as you so you’ll still get a leadership board or a benchmark to compare yourself to.
Also all your activity is tracked within the Garmin Connect app and here’s where you’ll start to accrue badges. Can’t change it for money or anything but still. Come on Garmin, how about 10% off for hitting 1 million steps huh.
Live tracking allows your family members or friends to check on your progress throughout your run. They can also see your speed, pace, elevation etc. This function requires that the smartphone be tethered to the Forerunner 25 throughout use and will drain the battery of both connected smartphone device and Forerunner 25.
There’s an alert tone every time the buttons are pressed but this can be de-activated and I strongly suggest you do.
There’s a history screen in watch that will allow the user to review personal records. Some of the records include:
- Details of run that have taken place
- Previous step count
- Fastest 1km, fastest mile, fastest 5km and longest run.
To fully maximise battery life, you can turn off Bluetooth, smart notification and activity tracking.
IN A NUTSHELL
If you’re on the market looking for a GPS watch, Garmin has made the Forerunner 25 a serious contender by adding 24/7 activity tracking, smart notifications and remarkable mobile app. It’s hard to not pay attention to Garmin’s latest offering.
While Polar’s M400 has multiple sports profiles, running and fitness index, the Forerunner 25 has live tracking, virtual runner and indoor running. It really boils down how you usually train.
The Forerunner 25 is available in 4 colour variations and 2 sizes at the recommended retail price of $169.99 or $199.99 with heart rate monitor bundle.
Purchase the Garmin Forerunner 25 from Amazon.com where there’s usually a small discount and free delivery depending on where you reside. Also, your purchase helps to fund the running of this site! Thanks for reading.
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