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Garmin Forerunner 745 review

There’s a lot to like about Garmin’s successor to the Forerunner 735XT, and its one drawback — battery life — shouldn’t be a dealbreaker

Garmin Forerunner 745 Review
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Our Verdict

The Garmin Forerunner 745 is a solid choice for a multi-sport watch that offers training insight, though other watches boast a better battery life.

For

  • Easy to set up and use
  • Robust activity and training data
  • Access to Garmin Connect
  • Comfortable for its size

Against

  • Limited smartwatch functionality
  • Small display
  • Battery life
Garmin Forerunner 745: Specs

Size: 43.8mm
Weight: 1.65 ounces
Colors: Black, Neo Tropic, Magma Red, Whitestone
Display: 1.2 inches, 240x240
GPS: Yes
Heart rate monitor: Yes
Battery: Up to 7 days in smartwatch mode; up to 16 hours
in GPS mode; up to 6 hours in GPS mode with music
Water Resistance: 5 ATM (up to 164 feet)
Mobile payments: Garmin Pay
Music Storage: Yes

The Garmin Forerunner 745, the successor to the popular Forerunner 735XT, boasts a longer battery life and a larger display, and it supports music storage. Plus, the Forerunner 745 benefits from Garmin’s recently introduced data analytics that measure stress level, training load, and recovery time — all of which aim to help you make the most of your training.

Overall, the Forerunner 745 is one of the best sports watches for multi-sport athletes. If there’s a downside to the watch, it’s that devices such as the Polar Vantage 2 and Garmin’s own Forerunner 945 promise a better battery life. But at 16 hours in GPS mode, the Forerunner 745’s battery shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for most users. 

Garmin Forerunner 745: Price and availability

The Garmin Forerunner 745 is available for $499. The watch comes in four colors: Black, white, red, and teal. In each of the four versions, the trim around the watch face and the buttons are black. 

Garmin Forerunner 745: Design

At just under 44mm and weighing more 1.65 ounces, the Forerunner 745 is a sizable watch, though it’s lighter than the $599 Garmin Forerunner 945 (47mm, 1.76 ounces) and the $499 Polar Vantage 2 (47mm, 1.83 ounces). All three watches have a 240 x 240 pixel display. The Forerunner 745 is a bit heavier than the Forerunner 735XT (1.4 ounces), but the older Garmin watch also has a smaller display, at 215 x 180 pixels.

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That said, the Forerunner 745 sat comfortably on my wrist and didn't slide around during  workouts, even in humid conditions. The display is smaller than many smartwatches, but it’s large enough to show the information you need at a glance in the middle of a workout. 

Garmin Forerunner 745 Review

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There are five buttons around the side of the watch, three on the left and two on the right. As with most Garmin devices, the Start/Stop button is on the top right, so users of older Garmin devices will find this familiar. The left side is a bit quirky: From bottom to top, the buttons are Down, Up, and Light, meaning that the Up button is in the middle. Even after two weeks of wearing the watch, I hit Light when I meant to hit Up more often than not.

Garmin Forerunner 745: Health and fitness features

As you would expect from a Garmin device, the Forerunner 745 provides an excellent experience for tracking workouts. The Start/Stop button will start, pause, resume, and end a run, so you can easily interact with the watch while keeping your eyes on the road. I also found that the Forerunner 745’s pace is quite accurate, updating quickly while I was speeding up (during interval training) or slowing down (while heading up a long hill). As someone with a habit of starting my runs too fast, this is a valuable feature for keeping me at the right pace. 

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At the end of a run, the watch provides the usual distance, pace, and time readouts, along with VO2 Max, estimated recovery time, and a Training Effect metric for aerobic and anaerobic activity. Training Effect is new to the Forerunner 745 (as well as the Forerunner 945), and it’s meant to measure the fitness improvement you gain from a workout. It’s an interesting feature, but I had to read Garmin’s Training Effect page a couple times to understand what the data meant.

The Forerunner 745 also uses VO2 Max and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) data to provide workout recommendations (distance and pace in the case of runners). I turned this feature off, since I have worked with a running coach for several years, but I see value for newer runners who want to avoid overdoing it.

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Along with the typical outdoor run, the Forerunner 745 supports track workouts, treadmill runs, and indoor and outdoor bike and swim workouts. With a water resistance rating of 5 ATM, the watch is suitable for open-water swimming — though the Polar Vantage 2 is water resistant up to 100m compared to 50m for the Forerunner 745.

The watch also supports brick workouts, which is a key feature for triathletes. Just like running, a single push of a button (accompanied by a loud beep) will stop one leg, and another button push will start the next leg. When you finish the workout, instead of a single beep the Forerunner 745 plays a song that sounds just like you beat a level in an 80s video game.

My biggest complaint about activity tracking with the Forerunner 745 is a minor one: Once you pass the one-hour mark of a run, the “1” is quite small. Otherwise, using the watch for several runs and tracking my data on the watch and in the Garmin app was a painless process.

Forerunner 745: Sleep tracking

There isn’t a dedicated sleep tracking feature on the Forerunner 745, as there is with a lot of smartwatches, but the watch will still track your sleep. 

If you wear the watch to bed and log into Garmin Connect the next morning, the app will provide a breakdown of your light, deep, and REM sleep. The Forerunner 745 will calculate when you fell asleep and woke up, based on your heart rate and movement, and Garmin Connect also gives you the option to edit these times if you were actually lying in bed awake but the watch thought you were asleep. This is a valuable feature, as it will help improve the accuracy of your sleep data over time.

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Beyond simply showing when you were in light sleep or deep sleep, Garmin uses the sleep data collected by the Forerunner 745 in its calculations for your stress level and Body Battery. The Body Battery rates your overall energy on a 1-100 and is meant to be an indicator of whether your body is ready for a workout (if the number is higher) or may need a day of rest (if the number is lower). This is a good next step for sleep tracking, as it helps put the data into context for the rest of your day.

Through Garmin Connect, you can set the usual time that you fall asleep and wake up. During this time, the Garmin Move bar and all notifications will be turned off, though notifications will be logged and available for viewing when you wake up. The Forerunner 745’s backlight is also disabled during this time, so if you get up in the middle of the night you won’t accidentally light up the room.

Forerunner 745: Smartwatch features

The Forerunner 745 enables you to accept or decline phone calls and to receive the same notifications that you get on your smartphone. The watch also supports Spotify integration, which lets you store up to 500 songs to play during workouts, as well as Garmin Pay, which supports credit card payments. If you don’t use Spotify, you can sideload up to 1,000 songs on the Forerunner 945.

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Through Garmin’s Connect IQ Store, users can add apps that aren’t native to the Forerunner 745. Garmin has created a number of apps, including a hydration tracker and a menstrual cycle tracker, while others come from developers such as Strava and Navicom. However, the watch isn’t compatible with Apple Watch OS, Google Wear OS, or Samsung Tizen, which is worth knowing if you’re in the market for a fitness watch that also comes with advanced smartwatch capabilities.  

Garmin Forerunner 745: Setup and the Garmin app

Setting up the Forerunner 745 requires downloading the Garmin app and syncing your watch with your phone. The app provides step-by-step instructions and also offers the option to receive phone notifications and access your calendar from your Forerunner 745. It’s a straightforward setup process.

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One handy feature in setup is the ability to take data from other devices using Garmin’s Physio TrueUp. If you have another Garmin watch or fitness tracker, you can use Physio TrueUp within the Garmin Connect smartphone app or Garmin Connect on the web to download data from the secondary device. This is helpful if, say, you already use Garmin Edge devices for cycling or Garmin Swim 2 for pool or open-water workouts.

If you’ve been using the Garmin app for quite some time with older watches or fitness trackers, your previous data is saved in the Garmin Connect calendar. However, without Physio TrueUp you won’t see detailed workout data such as VO2 Max, Training Load, and Recovery Time.

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Garmin Connect displays a range of activity data on the My Day screen, including training status (based on VO2 Max), heart rate, calories burned, and a workout summary. Tapping on each “card” within the My Day screen pulls up more information, including a summary of what each metric means. This is valuable, particularly for users who may otherwise be unfamiliar with terms such as “exercise load” or “body battery.” 

In addition, Garmin Connect is where you go to manage all aspects of the Forerunner 745, from the watch face to notifications to a Garmin Pay account for mobile payments. The smartphone app also syncs with Connect IQ, which is Garmin’s marketplace for third-party apps (though Garmin makes a lot of the apps as well). Connect IQ places a heavy emphasis on health and wellness apps, which is not surprising given Garmin’s user base. However, there is a range of games for the watch, and you can connect your Uber account or Starbucks card. 

Forerunner 745: Battery life

According to Garmin, the Forerunner 745 battery will last up to 7 days in smartwatch mode, 16 hours in GPS mode, and 6 hours in GPS mode with music playing. This will get you through several workouts without a recharge, but it’s worth noting that the Polar Vantage 2 promises a battery life of up to 40 hours in training mode, and the Forerunner 945 promises 36 hours of battery life in GPS mode.

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It took about one hour and 15 minutes to get the Forerunner 745 battery to a full charge from 6%. Over the course of four days, I took the watch on four separate runs totalling nearly 5 hours, and by the end of the fourth run the battery had gone from a full charge to 43%. A run that lasted 1 hour and 25 minutes only drained the battery by 7%. 

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Overall, the Forerunner 745 has good battery life for athletes who work out several hours each week. Someone who listens to music while exercising will need to charge the device more frequently - or they could opt for the Forerunner 945, which promises 10 hours of battery life in GPS mode with music playing. 

Garmin Forerunner 745: Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the Garmin Forerunner 745. The watch is easy to use, the activity features are robust, and Garmin Connect provides a snapshot view of activity data as well as training recommendations. And while the Forerunner 745 doesn’t have the advanced smartwatch capabilities of an Apple Watch Series 6 or Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, it does support mobile payments and music storage so athletes can leave their phones at home during a workout.

The main downside to the Forerunner 745 is its battery life as compared to the competition. The device will need to be charged twice as often as the Forerunner 945 or the Polar Vantage 2, though it will still last several days between charges in most use cases. Plus, the Forerunner 945 costs $100 more, and the Polar Vantage 2 doesn’t come with access to Garmin Connect or the Garmin community. Unless 16 hours of battery life in GPS mode is a dealbreaker for you, the Forerunner 745 is a solid choice for a multi-sport athlete.