Garmin Forerunner 45 vs. 245: Which Should You Pick?

September 22, 2020

Forerunner 45 on the left, Forerunner 245 on the right

The Forerunner 45 and 245 were released in April 2019, and are two of Garmin’s most popular entry-level GPS watches. If you’re considering the Forerunner 45 vs. 245, you’re comparing two watches in different price tiers, so you’re likely wondering whether the 245 is worth the extra money.

In this post, I’ll be going over their similarities and differences, and reasons you might choose one over the other. I’m just your resident GPS watch nerd and want to help you decide, having tested 8 of the most popular GPS running watches.

As some context, I’m mainly a distance runner (marathons and half marathons), but I also do a decent amount of cross-training and have dabbled in triathlons. I like to wear my watch all the time, and also look at the fitness tracking data (I can get a little obsessive about those 10k steps a day…). So, I’ll be looking at these watches from not only a running perspective, but also a multisport and everyday fitness wearable perspective. I don’t own either of the watches, but had the chance to test the Forerunner 245 for a month, and borrowed my friend’s Forerunner 45S.

Note that this post contains affiliate links, meaning that I earn a small commission on any purchases through those links, at no extra cost to you. Your support allows me to keep writing reviews like this one 🙂

Things in Common: Garmin Forerunner 45 vs. 245

Before I get into the differences of the Forerunner 45 and 245, here’s what they have in common.

Common Features

  • Fitness tracking for common activities: running indoors/outdoors, biking indoors/outdoors, strength, cardio, elliptical training, stair stepping, and yoga. You can also program interval workouts to follow from your watch.
  • Everyday fitness stats: steps, heart rate, stress, sleep, menstrual tracking.
  • “Fancier” training stats: VO2 max (aerobic performance capacity), Body Battery (energy levels based on heart rate variability, stress, and activity).
  • Basic smartwatch features: weather, calendar, messages, find your phone, Smart Lock (automatically unlock your phone when watch is in range).
  • Safety features: LiveTrack—allows your friends and family to follow your activity in real time; Incident Detection—alerts your emergency contacts with your location if an incident is detected (you must be connected to your phone, though).

Common Drawbacks

  • No barometric altimeter: this means that elevation stats will be less accurate, and your watch won’t track floors climbed throughout the day. For more accurate elevation, you can always upload to Strava though, which will correct your stats based on their data.
  • No touchscreen: this could be a good or bad thing for different people. The button navigation for both the Forerunner 45 and 245 is very intuitive and easy to learn though.
  • No open water swimming: neither watch tracks open water swimming, so they’re not great for triathletes. If you need open water swimming, I’d recommend the COROS APEX, which is the same price point as the Forerunner 245. You might also try the Forerunner 745 or 945, which are more expensive.

Reasons to Pick to Forerunner 245

garmin forerunner 245
garmin forerunner 245
garmin forerunner 245

I’m going to start with the 245, since it has more features to point out. Here are some things the Forerunner 245 has that the Forerunner 45 doesn’t.

First, the 245 has more advanced training features. These include:

  • Training Status—whether your training has been productive; this one’s funny because it will actually say “unproductive” sometimes, which I find kind of rude lol
  • Training Effect—how your training has improved your aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • Recovery Time—how long to wait before a hard workout
  • Race Predictor—predicted race times for 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon
  • PacePro—creates a pacing plan for your races and runs, based on elevation and your goal time. You can also adjust the plan based on whether you want a positive, negative, or even split, plus whether you want to take uphills easy or hard.

The Forerunner 245 also has a few extra tracking profiles: pool swimming, strength, and indoor rowing. The Garmin swim tracking has never been super accurate for me since I’m not a strong swimmer (yet!). I usually get 10-15% more than what I’ve actually swum, but others have said that the tracking is on the dot for them.

If you’re a trail runner, you might also like the 245. It has trail running specific tracking, point-to-point navigation, and UltraTrac GPS mode (turns off GPS periodically to save battery, but does make tracking a little less accurate).

You’ll also get almost twice the battery life. The Forerunner 45 lasts up to 7 days in smartwatch mode, and 13 hours in GPS mode. The 245 gets you the same 7 days, but up to 24 hours in GPS mode!

Those who like to listen to music on runs might prefer the Forerunner 245, as there is a music version ($50 more expensive). You can download and play music from your watch, as long as you’re connected to Bluetooth headphones or a speaker. The watch is also compatible with Spotify Premium, Amazon Music, and Deezer.

You can also get Audio Prompts while you run, which include announcements during your workout on pace, speed, heart rate, lap number, lap time. If you have the music version of the watch, you can get Audio Prompts directly from your watch while connected to Bluetooth headphones. Otherwise, you’ll need to have your phone with you and get the prompts from the Garmin Connect app. The Forerunner 45 has audio prompts, but only if you bring your phone with you.

Finally, the Forerunner 245 has a pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen saturation. This can helpful when you sleep, or if you’re training at higher elevations.

Why to Pick the Garmin Forerunner 45

garmin forerunner 45S
This is not my arm lol—had a friend model. This is the Forerunner 45S.
garmin forerunner 45S
garmin forerunner 45S hr sensor

I’ll be frank: I don’t think the Forerunner 45 is worth the money, unless you can get it for under $150 (during a sale or something). One of my biggest qualms about the watch is that it doesn’t track swimming, and still retails at $200.

You can find a much better value watch in the Vivoactive 3 (often ~$130 on Amazon), which tracks swimming and has a barometric altimeter. There’s also the Vivoactive 3 Music (the watch I’ve had for 2 years!) for around $220 on Amazon. That said, if you don’t want a touchscreen watch, the Vivoactive might not be right for you. I have a whole post comparing the Vivoactive 3 vs. Forerunner 45, if you want to look more into it.

This post is about the Forerunner 45 vs. 245 though, so let’s get back to that. While I don’t think the Forerunner 45 is the best value, there are some reasons you might prefer it over the 245.

One difference is the size of the watches. The Forerunner 45 also comes in a smaller size, the Forerunner 45S. Both are smaller and weigh less than the Forerunner 245. Here’s a comparison:

Note: the Forerunner 45 and 45S have the same size screen, but the watch case is different, as the 45S is made for smaller wrists.

Forerunner 45SForerunner 45Forerunner 245
Size39.5 x 39.5 x 11.4 mm42 x 42 x 11.4 mm42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 mm
Diameter1.04″ (26.3 mm)1.04″ (26.3 mm)1.2″ (30.4 mm)
Weight32g36g38.5g

You’ll see that the Forerunner 45 is 20% heavier than Forerunner 45S, and 7% heavier than the Forerunner 45. This is because the Forerunner 245 has a 16% larger screen than the Forerunner 45 and 45S. Keep in mind that these that these are all pretty typical GPS watch weights and sizes. Both the Forerunner 45 and 245 are comfortable to wear, but the Forerunner 45S just feels especially easy on smaller wrists.

One thing to note is that the Forerunner 45 won’t lie flat, as the watch band curves automatically (you can see it in the above images). The bands are still interchangeable though. Just wanted to mention this since it was something that surprised me.

The main reason you might prefer the Forerunner 45 is the price difference. The Forerunner 245 retails at $100-150 more than the Forerunner 45. If you don’t need the extra features of the Forerunner 245, and just want a basic GPS watch, the Forerunner 45 is the more affordable option.

If you’re also upgrading from the Forerunner 35 and feel loyal to this line of watches, the Forerunner 45 does offer a lot more than its predecessor. You’ll get the safety tracking features, more activity profiles, and stress + Body Battery tracking.

The Bottom Line

If you want a better value watch with training metrics, the ability to track pool swimming, twice the battery life, and a music option, go with the Forerunner 245.

If you want a simpler watch that is cheaper and extremely comfortable to wear, go with the Forerunner 45.

Where to Buy the Forerunner 45 and 245

Here are some places to buy these watches, on Amazon and the Garmin website (prices current as of late September 2020). I also want to encourage you to buy secondhand or from small, local running stores if you can. I don’t get paid if you do that, so if you still want to show your appreciation financially, you’re welcome to buy me a ko-fi.

Amazon:

Forerunner 45 ($190-$195) – click the size options if you want the 45S
Forerunner 245 ($300 non-music, $340 music)

Garmin:

Forerunner 45 ($199) – again, click the size options for the 45S
Garmin Forerunner 245 ($300 non-music, $350 music)

Other retailers:

Swappa (used electronics)
Dick’s Sporting Goods


 

I hope you found this comparison of the Forerunner 45 vs. 245 was helpful—as always, feel free to reach out with any questions or comments. Best of luck choosing a watch, and happy training!

Other posts you may find helpful:

COROS APEX vs. Forerunner 245
Forerunner 45 vs. Vivoactive 3
Best GPS Running Watches under $200

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Forerunner 45 vs. 245

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I'm Lily, and I run races and go places (& blog about it). I also try to advocate for the planet & its people.
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