Garmin Forerunner 230

8.2 score
[Editors rating (8.2)] = (TheGearHunt) score (8.2)/10

Editor rating: 8.2 / 10
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Garmin Forerunner 230 Review Facts

‘A standard running watch having few thrills’ were words used to discuss the Garmin Forerunner 230. It does not have the extreme in-depth fitness metrics or built-in optical heart sensor found in some other running watches.

It offers tools a runner needs such as a chest strap pairing capability, some interval options, pace, and distance. Daily activity tracking and smartwatch notifications are features the watch has. Garmin is among the best names in terms of tracking sports.

It operates at the basic end of the spectrum at a price that is relatively high. Missing features include the ability to race against oneself on previous routes, immediate diving into zoned workouts, and running virtual events like a less than 50 minute 10k. Some higher-end running watches store music for phone-free runs.

The 230 is a cheaper option than the newer 235 and an upgrade to an older Forerunner 220. It has a 60 percent battery life increase and a more prominent display. If the consumer can live without a built-in wrist-based heart rate monitor or has a Garmin chest strap, the 230 is an excellent choice.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Accurate
  • Amazing battery life
  • Audio prompts
  • Compatible smartphone notifications
  • Essential running data
  • Screen is 44 percent bigger than predecessor
  • VO₂ max estimates
  • Complicated app
  • Lacks fun features
  • No optical heart rate monitor


It can be used in the gym hooked to a heart monitor for basic performance data. While the Forerunner 230 is among the most accurate device of its kind, it doesn’t do much more than tell how far a runner runs.

The Garmin Forerunner 230 also tracks daily activity like Jawbones and Fitbits. Runners who are training for a race, half marathon, full marathon, or 10K use the Forerunner 230 watch. Runners training for their personal best find the Forerunner 230 an excellent option.

Basic Features

The Garmin Forerunner 230 has the stats and features an average runner needs. Using Garmin Connect, there are modes for custom workouts and interval sessions. GPS tracks Pace, speed, and distance with incredible accuracy. The Move Bar is an ever-present feature of the Forerunner 230. It fills when sitting at a desk or on a sofa. The wearer has to move to clear it. It is an excellent addition for those who want to curb sitting rituals.

The feature is for people who wear the device all day, which is a personal preference. Many people wear a running watch casually. Others wear it only when running. The Recovery Advisor offers a recovery assessment in real-time in the first few minutes of a run.

Training load is measured by the Training Effect feature in an understandable five-point scale to let the user know how hard he or she is working. Sleep, calories burned, distance, and steps are monitored around the clock.

It has personalized daily step goals to bet and move bar alerts that remind the user it is time to move. The vibration alerts motivate the user after sitting too long — alerts highlight when personal records have been achieved.

Smart notifications are received during runs. When the watch is paired with a device, it can receive calendar and call alerts, emails, texts, and more. Family and friends can track activities in real time. It gives loved ones a way to cheer on the user on race days or peace of mind when the user is training. It requires a connection to a mobile phone that is strapped to the arm or a belt.

Auto Pause is a basic feature of the unit. It pauses recording when stopped at a traffic light. Auto Lap automatically creates laps at a chosen distance and alerts. Run/Walk, heart rate, calories, distance, pace, and time alerts can be configured. Custom alerts work on a time and distance parameter such as going home after 30 minutes or drink every ten minutes.

Advanced Features

The critical difference between the Forerunner 230 and the more recent 235 model is the wrist-based heart rate monitor. The Garmin Forerunner 230 is not devoid of advanced features. The battery life is another difference.

The Forerunner 230 battery life is longer than the 235. It provides power for up to five weeks on smartwatch mode and 16 hours in GPS mode compared to nine days and 11 hours respectively for the 235. The wrist-based heart rate monitor uses more battery. It displays recovery time and spits out a VO₂ maximum score when a run comes to an end. The feature elevates it above the majority of basic watches.

The lack of built-in heart rate monitoring is a personal preference. The technology of the Forerunner 235 with integrated HR monitoring is not accurate for high-intensity workout tracking. Many people prefer the pairing of Forerunner 230 with a chest strap.

Less serious runners, ironically, see the lack of heart rate tracking a downside. They feel the addition of imperfect heart rate data gives a more detailed post-workout review. Improvements in fitness are seen more clearly and running is understood without wearing uncomfortable accessories. They feel vague heart rate data is better than none at all.


The performance of the Garmin GPS is among the best around. It locks onto satellites with a lightning-quick speed which is an advantage when dressing in shorts ready for a run on a cold day. Connect IQ is compatible with the Garmin Forerunner 230. It is an app store of sorts. Third-party developers are currently working with Garmin in the development of watch faces, widgets, and new apps.

The watch is great for watch display customization. New data fields can be downloaded, and their appearance on the watch changed. The data needed during training is available. The Forerunner 230 supports connecting to ANT+ cycling speed and cadence sensors, foot pods, and heart rate sensors. The foot pod is only useful for indoor use. The unit shows the current pace from GPS. Distance and metric chosen are also shown.


Garmin Connect is used with the Garmin 230. It is available for Android and iOS. The device has a web element that is feature rich. It is among the best proprietary platforms available. Its range of stats and breadth of features blows many out of the water. The web tools review data, design and discover routes, and build custom workouts.

Garmin Connect may be the best multisport ecosystem. Running and cycling are placed alongside golf and basic health features. The mobile app is not as compelling. It is geared toward workout data reviews and daily activity stats. It shows progress toward daily goals that can be set within the app.

The is a bit hard to use and confusing. Garmin allows data to spit out to Strava which is the preferred platform. The user can cycle or run with the watch, sync it up when finished, and enjoy all the personal records and segments for routes as usual.

Training plans and workouts can be created free with the desktop app from Garmin Connect. They are uploaded to the 230 for real-time coaching on distance, time, and pace. Music cannot be directly stored on the watch. The Forerunner 230 can be set to play audio alerts while running. With the use of Garmin Connect, Mobile app motivational status announcements will play on a smartphone. Audio alerts include heart rate data, speed, pace, lap time, and lap number. The Garmin Connect mobile app mutes the original smartphone audi


The screen size makes the watch slightly bulky. There is a strap that tightens comfortably on slim wrists. The slimline design fits under a sleeve without causing problems. At 41 grams, the Forerunner 230 is incredibly lightweight. Runners don’t feel it on their wrists which is an advantage during long training runs.


A range of colors is available that appeal to everyone. There are three color variation available black and purple strike, black and force yellow, and black and white.


The watch is made of durable plastic that is waterproof to 50 meters and super light. The watch is waterproof but cannot be used to track swimming.


The screen is relatively large but doesn’t seem bulky. The display is a low resolution of 215 X 180 pixels. It is not monochrome. Very basic colors highlight information like heart rate when strapped to the chest. The default LCD screen is so dull that reading in the dark is impossible. In daylight, messages and stats can be read quickly and clearly. Built-in buttons are up/down selector for menu navigation, a back button, and the main activity button used in selecting and starting runs.


It has a rubber strap that is designed for sports and is sweat resistant. There are enough holes on the silicone band to fit small wrists.

Ease of Use

The watch is easy to use. And has scrollable navigation like other Garmin watches. A compatible smartphone is required to work the basic features. Tapping down a button on the homescreen reveals a digest of calories torched, estimated distance walked, and steps.

The power button is pressed once at the start of a run. It triggers a screen that enables a user to select activity profiles. The selection to run indoors or outdoors is made here. There are two other activity profiles from which to choose. They are ‘Bike Outdoors’ and ‘Others.’

The profiles on the Forerunner 230 cannot be renamed nor can new ones be created. When a profile is selected, the unit searches for satellite coverage. If the spot is a previous location and was downloaded in the satellite cache, connection usually takes less than 15 seconds. The main data page appears. The satellite status is seen on the top until the activity begins. The data pages are customizable.


Battery life is excellent. The Forerunner lasts approximately one month when used as a regular watch. It delivers 16 hours of tracking by GPS. Sixteen hours is more than adequate for marathon training. The Garmin has enough juice for a run when untouched for weeks. It is likely to be ready when needed without pre-planned charging.


The Garmin Forerunner 230 is a slightly inflated price watch. It has a price tag of $249.99 which is a bit pricey for a standard watch. Other brands match the sports features offered for a lot less money. There are deals available that make the Forerunner 230 an excellent buy for a mid-range running watch. The Garmin soft strap HR monitor is included in a bundle version if accurate heart rate information is not required.


There is a cycling feature that works only when paired with sensors that are available separately. VO₂ max estimates are achieved by pairing the Forerunner 230 with a chest strap HR monitor. It measures the maximum oxygen volume that can be consumed per kilogram of maximum performance body weight. It is an excellent way to monitor improvements and fitness level.

Key Features

* 5 ATM water rating
* Advanced training plans and workouts
* Bike speed and cadence sensor compatible
* Calorie computation based on heart rate
* Color display
* Compatible with LiveTrackHeart rate monitors
* Connect IQ compatible
* Customizable screens
* Five-week battery life (16 hours in GPS mode)
* GPS tracks pace, distance, and time
* Other activity profiles such as cycling, calendar and weather widgets
* Pace alerts
* Race predictors and recovery advisor
* Readable, high-resolution daylight display
* Smart features and notifications
* Sleep monitoring
* Step count
* VO₂ max estimate
* Walk, Auto LapRun, and Autopause features
* Watch functions (time, date, alarm) or (time and date only)

Bottom Line

Runners who want pinpoint HR accuracy are better off with the Forerunner 230 paired with a chest strap than the newer 235. Besides run tracking, the Garmin Forerunner 230 has other modes for biking and indoor running when the GPS is turned off.

It opens up speed, distance, and time and allows the runner to get on with workouts. The Forerunner 230 is a solid running watch with fantastic battery life, all-day activity tracking, and top-notch notifications.

The 230 is classed as a watch for improving runners. It helps to get more from a run. The 215 X 180-pixel color display isn’t as sharp as smartwatches, but the Forerunner 230 is not a smartwatch. It is a running watch. There is a tradeoff of pixels for battery life. The watch will likely hold its own for three to four years with various software updates done through Garmin Express.