Garmin's sports watches are completely different athletes to those hailing from Apple or Samsung.
Rather than lead off on their smartwatch foot, they're the tactical genius who races from the back and relies on their meticulous attention to detail.
A Forerunner's meat and drink (or rather, carbs and energy gel) is being a serious coaching companion for runners, swimmers and triathletes, while offering some smartwatch basics on the side.
This flagship model is no different. Effectively a souped-up Forerunner 735XT with a new design and some nifty new training analysis tools, the 935 is the slightly cheaper sibling of the excellent Fenix 5.
Like its pricier brother, it destroys the Apple Watch Series 3 for battery life and serves up notifications and music controls from your phone.
Sure, it isn’t the fanciest-looking runner’s watch going, but it is about as close as you can get to the ultimate wrist-based motivator right now...
Garmin Forerunner 935 design: A better everyday companion
The Forerunner 935 and Fenix 5 might look the same on paper, but there's a big design difference between the two.
This watch is smaller, less likely to attract unwanted attention and won’t make everyone assume you have three marathons to run in the next four weeks.
It’s all-black and, aside from the toughened glass on the top, the shell is fibre-reinforced plastic rather than steel or another metal. Next to the Fenix 5 it looks plain, but it’s a lot lighter and almost 2mm thinner.
I find it more comfortable than your average jumbo sport watch. And as someone who runs 5Ks rather than ultramarathons, I feel much less of a sham wearing a Forerunner 935.
If anything, it’s a constant reminder to not fall off the training wagon. If you spend more time downing protein shakes than cocktails, it’ll probably be a good match for you too.
The Forerunner 935 has lots of minor improvements over the older 735XT too. The screen is slightly larger (particularly handy for the bike leg of a triathlon), the bezel a little less cluttered with symbols and, crucially, the optical heart rate sensor doesn’t protrude as much from the back.
The extra comfort this provides is quite a big deal, because Garmin wants the Forerunner 935 to be your everyday watch. I found the 735XT’s sensor to be a tad uncomfortable for nightly sleep-tracking, but the 935 feels like a real 24/7 watch. Particularly as it also pairs with your phone and serves up basic notifications.
Garmin Forerunner 935 features: A sports coach on your wrist
Unlike the Vivoactive 3, this watch is controlled entirely using buttons rather than a touchscreen. It's a real no-nonsense sport watch.
Button control works well, though, eradicating all of the accidental commands I occasionally experience using the Vivoactive 3.
The buttons are metal and don’t spoil the Garmin Forerunner 935’s water resistance. It's rated to 5 ATM, which does the job for swimming, though the Fenix 5 goes further with 10 ATM resistance.
Their screens are more-or-less the same, though. The Forerunner 935 has a 1.2in, 240x240 circular MIP screen. This is a kind of LCD that has duller colour and worse contrast than your average smartwatch, but barely uses any power and only gets clearer as ambient light increases.
In darkness or a dim room, you just press the light button on the side to fire up the front light, which is little like the light of a classic Casio digital watch.
You can’t approach a Forerunner 935 expecting smartwatch screen pop, but the consolation prize is excellent outdoors clarity and killer battery life.
The Forerunner 935 will last for a couple of weeks when just used as a watch, or for 24 hours of GPS run tracking. It’s a fantastic watch for all-day hiking, which even the Vivoactive 3 will struggle to last through.