Garmin Forerunner 25 vs 35 – Which Is the Best No-Frill GPS Watch?

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Are you looking to grab a GPS watch that’s worth your money, but you are not sure which one to get?

Well, with the relatively recent release of the Garmin Forerunner 35, on wrist location and heart tracking is now an option that costs way less than ever.

The question is, is the GPS running watch worth going for? And do the extra features that it has made it a worthy upgrade over the lower-end Forerunner 25?

These questions and more will be answered by my here comparison of the Garmin Forerunner 25 vs 35.

In a Nutshell

Reasons to Consider the Forerunner 35:

  • Continuous wrist-based heart rate tracking
  • The Intensity Minutes feature
  • Vibration alerts
  • Modern design
  • Music controls

Reasons to Consider the Forerunner 25:

  • Simpler to use
  • Cheaper
  • Great battery life

Garmin Forerunner 25 vs 35: On Wrist Heart Rate Tracking

The Forerunner 35, being a fitness tracker, can measure your pulse directly from your wrist using Garmin’s proprietary tech, Elevate, which is a heart rate sensor located on the watch’s back. It consists of three bright green lights which will shine into your wrist and calculate how many beats per minute your heart rate is.

Of course, the watch offers more convenience and comfort than your traditional heart rate monitor, allowing you to constantly collect data after every physical exercise you do.

The Forerunner 35 will keep track of your pulse, even when you’re not doing anything physical, meaning you’ll have access to data about your resting heart rate as well!

Such on-wrist pulse tracking technology can already be found in many of Garmin’s premium devices, such as the Garmin Vivoactive HR, Fenix 3 HR, and the Forerunner 235 and 735. These devices can cost anywhere between $250 and $500, while the Forerunner 35 will set you back less than $200.

The Forerunner 25, however, doesn’t come with on-wrist heart tracking but is still compatible with most chest strap heart rate monitors through wireless ANT+ connection. The obvious drawback to this is the fact that you can only measure your heart rate during specific workouts and not throughout the day as the FR 35 does.

So, this is the first loss for the FR 25 in this Forerunner 25 vs. 35 comparison. However, it won’t be the last.

Intensity Minutes on the Forerunner 35

Since the Forerunner 35 actively and continuously tracks your heart rate, it is capable of building an idea of how your body is reacting to exercises through data. And this is where the concept of Intensity Minutes comes into play. It is a metric designed to help you achieve the WHO’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity a week threshold.

How quickly you reach said goal obviously depends on how intense your performance is during the exercise. These exercises can be divided into two levels of activity: moderate and vigorous. One example of moderate minutes is brisk walking. Running, on the other hand, is considered vigorous, and its minutes are worth double points. In other words, a 75-minute run will get you to your Intensity Minute target.

Assuming you do both kinds of exercises, which is the right way to go, your weekly total will include a combination of moderate and vigorous exercising. This tracking is done automatically, so you don’t have to start a stopwatch or anything each time you start exercising.

You’d assume that such functionality can also work with a regular chest strap heart monitor. However, it isn’t available in Forerunner 25.

Sport Profiles

As a regular user of the Vivoactive range, I appreciate the sports profiles feature, which consists of mini-apps where you choose which sport or workout you’re about to perform and receive relevant metrics in return.

The Forerunner 35 won’t offer you the same wide selection of sports as the Vivoactive range, but it’ll provide a decent amount of diversity, nevertheless.


This is the core of any Forerunner device, quite literally. Using GPS to accurately track your running distance.

Indoor Running

This option will obviously not utilize GPS since you’re on the treadmill, but it’ll estimate your running distance by counting your steps. I recommend that you edit your stride length in the Garmin Connect App before utilizing this feature for more accurate metrics.


The watch can easily detect if you’re doing a mix of walking and running and will provide you with the proper metrics in return (maybe you can include it in your backpacking gear?).


The cycling profile allows you to distinguish your running data from your cycling (great feature if you have a budget mountain bike).


The cardio mode is useful for circuit training, gym workouts, and any team sports.

Pitting the Forerunner 25 vs. 35 in this regard, you’ll notice that the FR 25 isn’t as sophisticated as its upgraded sibling when it comes to sports tracking and profiles.

Vibration Alerts on the Forerunner 35

The inclusion of a small vibration motor inside the Forerunner watch might sound like an insignificant feature, but it proved to be extremely useful on multiple occasions:

• When you’re out running, the GPS watch can vibrate as a way of alerting you of mile splits, so if you have headphones on and would like to be constantly notified, this is the way.

• When you’re not doing anything and downright being lazy, both the FR 25 and FR 35 have a built-in Move Alert bar which, once filled, will gently remind you to walk around. This is done through a vibration alert on the FR 35.

The FR 25 is completely missing the vibration functionality, meaning you’ll be at the mercy of a beep notification sound for all of your watch alerts, another unfortunate loss for the FR 25 in this Forerunner 25 vs 35 comparison.

Fresher Design on the FR 35

Both models, at their core, are fresh-looking four buttoned watches. But, the FR 35 doesn’t have the bulky look of its predecessor. Instead, it comes in a more aesthetic design that most users would appreciate. I know a lot of people out there who would refuse to wear a technologically great watch just because it doesn’t “look good” on their wrists.

Colors-wise, both models come in numerous options. The FR 25 comes in Black, Blue, Purple, and Pink, while the FR 35 comes in Black, White, Limelight, or Frost Blue.

So, design-wise, the Forerunner 25 vs. 35 comparison doesn’t really have a clear winner as this solely comes down to personal choice.

The Price

This might be the deciding factor for some people when comparing the Garmin Forerunner 25 vs. 35. With the Forerunner 25 being a somewhat old release, you might find it online 30 or so percent cheaper than the FR 35.

Garmin Forerunner 25 vs 35 – The Similarities

Now that I’ve mentioned the key differences between the two models in detail, let me quickly run through the plentiful of similarities that these two watches have:

  • Built-in GPS
  • Accelerometer
  • Step Counter
  • Connected Features
  • Run/Walk Mode
  • Indoor Running Mode
  • Auto Lap
  • Auto Goal
  • Heart rate-based calorie computation
  • Auto Pause
  • Customizable home screen
  • Move Bar
  • Personal Records
  • Sleep Monitoring
  • Smart notifications
  • Compatible with Garmin Connect Mobile
  • Touch screen

Garmin Forerunner 25 vs 35 – Which Is the Best Garmin Watch?

Both these watches are designed with one type of user in mind, runners. And if you happen to be looking for a watch to wear while you’re jogging that will provide for you basic running watch services, then the cheaper FR 25 is the obvious choice.

However, if you want an activity tracker to track your heart rate data on every exercise, for example, then the FR 35 is the way to go. While it is true that the FR 35 is a bit more expensive than the FR 25, it still is on the more affordable side of the spectrum, given what features it comes with.

So, in conclusion, I’ve decided to set the Forerunner 25 vs. 35 solely to provide you, a potential consumer, with an idea of the similarities and differences of these two watches, and if you’re wondering about my personal choice, then I think I’ve made it clear already: the Forerunner 35.

Which of these Garmin products do you personally prefer? Let me know in the comments!


  • My own experience!

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