With the Forerunner 30, Garmin has launched yet another running watch to its already impressive collection. The 30, confusingly, is actually a more recent version of the Garmin Forerunner 35.
The reason for the lower number is that the Garmin Forerunner 30 is actually a pared-back version of the 35. Garmin describes it as a “simple-to-use running watch with wrist-based heart rate”.
From the short amount of time that we’ve spent with it, Garmin has done a great job of removing more advanced features, without leaving the Forerunner 30 feeling sparse.
It has heart rate monitoring, GPS tracking, overall fitness metrics in the form of Vo2 max (measuring the oxygen levels in your blood to gauge how well your body metabolizes oxygen), and even has basic smartphone features in call notifications and message previews.
The feature that we’re really excited about taking for a spin is Move IQ, a feature that apparently automatically recognizes the type of exercise that you’re doing and begins tracking for you without requiring any button pushing.
At the moment the Forerunner 30 is only available in Europe, and sits solidly in the mid-range bracket at a price of £129.99.
The design of the Garmin Forerunner 30 is exactly the same as the 35; a glass rectangle, with thick bezels surrounding a 0.93 inch diameter screen. On the sides are four buttons for navigating the menus (up, down, run, and previous screen).
The screen is incredibly clear, and in comparison to thinner devices like the Fitbit Alta HR, there is plenty of screen real-estate for all your metrics to display on screen. This is particularly important mid-run when you’ve got sweat in your eyes and want to just quickly glimpse your device.
The unit itself is relatively thick, needing to fit in the buttons, the electrics, and the sensors on the underside. The unit is held on your wrist with silicon straps, connected using a metal clasp and a loop that holds down the remaining strap.
The Garmin Forerunner 30 is definitely one of Garmin’s more fashionable units, but still looks very much like a run-tracker, the boxy shape and large text on-screen would look out of place with a nice suit or on a night out.
The interface both on the app and on the watch itself is complex without being convoluted, and we are looking forward to fully testing out all the different features that it has on offer.
The app has numerous screens displaying information about general steps, running, swimming, cycling, strength training, sleep tracking, weight tracking, and more.
The watch itself is less complex, but still shows heart rate, calories burned, steps, notifications, intensity minutes, and more.
It sounds like a lot, and it is, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming which is testament to Garmin’s experience in this field. In all ways with the Forerunner 30 you can see that Garmin is an industry leader in the running tracking field, and that is has put this experience into making this device the best it could be.
Garmin says that the Forerunner 30 can last five days in ‘smartwatch mode’ and 8 hours in ‘GPS mode’. This is good, but considering we’ve just spent time with the smaller, cheaper, Huawei Band 2 Pro that lasts 21 days not in GPS mode, we can’t help but feel underwhelmed by the 30’s battery life, but we look forward to putting it to the test.
From the short time that we’ve spent with it, Garmin’s latest offering is pretty accurate when it comes to monitoring heart rate. From direct pulse comparison, it has managed to establish resting heart rate well.
Wrist-based heart rate monitoring is notoriously not as accurate and responsive as a chest strap based system, and when we had time with the Forerunner 35, that was one of the problems that we had with it.
With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see if Garmin has managed to improve on this with the 30.
The lack of touchscreen and gestural commands is slightly disappointing, but the menu interfaces are swift to respond, and the menu interface is a pleasure to navigate.
We’re interested to see how accurate the biometrics are under pressure, and look forward to testing Move IQ, seeing if machine learning can potentially strip away some of the requirement on us as users to input exercise modes.
The Garmin Forerunner 30 looks like a welcome addition to Garmin’s already extensive family of running trackers. At £129.99, if it proves to be as impressive as it looks from first impressions, it is going to be a great value mid-range running tracker.
While Garmin has clearly attempted to make a more fashionable unit, we still think that it sits more on the side of function than fashion in terms of aesthetics. The battery life promises to be good, but isn’t the best on the market.
The menu interfaces are a pleasure to use, and for a simplified tracker, it’s still pleasantly filled with features.