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Review: Garmin Forerunner 745

Written by

Brandon Law

Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert

This expert review is written by

Brandon Law

Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert
Brandon is a South African who lives and trains in Malaysia. He is a marathon runner who eats, sleeps and dreams running shoes. While most people wear shoes to run, he runs to wear shoes.
Expert score

Expert Review: Garmin Forerunner 745

Quick overview

Forerunner 745
List price
Battery life
16 hrs
Water proof
Yes + Swim Tracking
Multi sport
Yes + Event tracking
Music support
Yes from Local Storage
24h tracking
Heart monitor

Pros and cons according to our running expert

Pros and cons according to our running expert

  • History of runs saved on the watch
  • Onboard music
  • NFC contactless payments
  • Automatic Wi-Fi syncing
  • Weaker battery life than competitors
  • Charging cable is too short
  • Garmin Pay is not available with all the banks

Our verdict

The Garmin Forerunner 745 is the replacement for the 735XT and is a middle-of-the-range multisport watch that sits in between the Forerunner 645 and the Forerunner 945.

The Forerunner 745 has a Pulse Ox sensor to measure blood oxygen saturation levels which the Forerunner 645 doesn’t have but it doesn’t have built-in mapping which the Forerunner 945 has.

The rugged Forerunner 745 is a dependable, feature-rich multisport watch that has plenty of smartwatch features such as onboard music, NFC contactless payments, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The biggest weaknesses of the Forerunner 745 are that Garmin Pay is currently only open to very few banks and its battery life is far less than the competition.

Design and Hardware Garmin Forerunner 745

I found the Garmin Forerunner 745 to be light and comfortable to wear with a durable, rugged multisport watch feel. I really like the matte black finish which makes it look like a watch that Batman would wear while driving the Batmobile.

The Forerunner 745 has a smaller design than its predecessor, the 735XT. Its screen size is now 1.23” in size, and it has a barely-there weight of 47g.

The screen has a 240 x 240-pixel resolution with a pixel density of 283 PPI. I found it bright and easy to read in direct sunlight although it doesn’t have the crispness of a smartwatch screen.

The new headline features include a pulse oximeter for measuring blood oxygen levels, 4GB of onboard music storage, and NFC contactless payments.

Other sensors in the Forerunner 745 include a barometer to measure air pressure and predict weather changes, a gyroscope and an accelerometer that measures linear acceleration.

The Forerunner 745 has NFC cardless payments through Garmin Pay but a big disappointment was that it wasn’t open to my bank in Singapore so I wasn’t able to use it and still had to carry my credit card with me on runs like a caveman.

The strap is a 22mm, silicone, interchangeable one with a diagonal pattern on the outside of it. It only comes in one size but it was able to fit my skinny wrist comfortably.

It comes in the 4 signature Forerunner colors of black, magma red, whitestone, and neo tropic.

Water Resistance
Yes + Swim Tracking

Navigating the Interface Garmin Forerunner 745

There are 5 physical buttons on the Forerunner 745 with no touchscreen to navigate through menus but I never missed the touchscreen because I prefer using physical buttons to avoid finger smudges on the screen.

The buttons are all labelled and engraved which is a nice touch.

Upper right button: This button stops and starts an activity. When pressed and held, it takes you directly to the pre-activity menu.

Lower right button: This button is the “back” button to return to the previous screen. During an activity, this button records the completion of a lap or set.

Upper left button: This button turns the watch on. It also turns the backlight on or off and when press and held, it opens the controls menu.

Middle left button: This button is used to scroll through menus. When pressed and held, it opens the main menu.

Lower left button: This button is also used to scroll through menus. When pressed and held, it opens the music controls.

Overall, I found navigating the interface of the Forerunner 745 to be simple and intuitive and I was able to get used to it in no time at all.

On the run Garmin Forerunner 745

To start a run, you press the upper right hand button labelled “START”. It then brings up all the activities that you can choose from and it allows you to order them with the activities that you use most to be at the top of the list.

Once you have selected “Run”, it brings up the metric view. You need to wait for the satellites to find you and the “GPS” with a tick notification turns green. On average, it took about 20 seconds to find my location.

With the Forerunner 745, you have the ability to customise your metric view before the run, right on the watch which is a big advantage over other watches where it has to be done on the app or a browser.

You have up to 6 different metrics to choose from which is more than the average watch. I customised my own view with distance, duration, current heart rate, current pace, average pace and last lap time.

While you’re running, in the first 6-10 minutes of the run, the Forerunner 745 analyses your pace and heart rate and it tells you your Performance Condition. The higher the number, the higher you can expect to perform.

I found this feature encouraging when the number was green and positive and when it was negative, it made me want to run faster, to prove the watch prediction wrong.

During a run, you have the option of pausing your activity and resuming it later. This is useful when you want to minimise your workout to go into the main menu and change settings such as alert and vibration preferences.

I did this on a few runs when I wanted to switch off automatic lap alerts so that I could enjoy my run more and not focus on pace.

Course navigation is also available on the Forerunner 745 but you need to send the course to the device before your run using Garmin Connect on the app or a browser. You can also create your own course or make Garmin create a custom course for you depending on how far and in which direction you want to run.

After the run: software and connectivity Garmin Forerunner 745

When it comes to software, one of my favourite features is that the Forerunner 745 saves all your activities in its memory so you can go back and see your activity history on the watch.

With other watches, you have to go on to your phone and open the app or to a computer browser to view previous workouts which isn’t very convenient.

The Forerunner 745 has Wi-Fi connectivity so as soon as you walk through the door of your home, your run starts to upload automatically to Garmin Connect and Strava without having to upload to your phone first via Bluetooth.

I found activity uploads to be much more seamless and convenient than other watches and uploads took less than 30 seconds.

Garmin Connect is the app that’s used to store your run history and to see a more detailed analysis of your activities.

I didn’t have any problems with Garmin Connect. It gets the job done but it isn’t as detailed as Polar Flow and the interface also isn’t as well set out as Polar Flow.

A big advantage of Garmin software is that it opens up its software to 3rd parties so there are hundreds of apps, widgets and watch faces that you can download from ConnectIQ to customise your Forerunner 745.

My favorite watch face was a set of pot plants that grow throughout the day as your steps accumulate.

The Forerunner 745 is able to calculate what your V02 Max is without you having to do a running test. After every run, it calculates your new score and displays it along with your other performance results.

My V02 Max ranged from 58 to 60 which is slightly higher than my result from the Vantage V2’s Running Performance Test.

Other activities Garmin Forerunner 745

There are 37 default built-in activities that the Forerunner 745 can track but there are many more activities that you can download from ConnectIQ.

Tracking weight training with the Forerunner 745 was very useful. Not only was it able to tell me my heart rate and calories used during the workout but it was able to determine which exercise I was doing.

It could automatically count my reps and then when I pressed the button to end a set, it counted my sets as well which the Polar Vantage V2 could not do.

Another activity that I tried was Pool Swim. I had to set the length of the pool before the swim and then it could track how many lengths I swam, strokes, speed, pace and heart rate.

One thing which it wasn’t able to do after my swim which the Vantage V2 could do was determine that I was doing breaststroke.

The Forerunner 745 is able to perform detailed sleep tracking. I wore the watch every night while sleeping and in the morning it was able to tell me my total sleep, deep, light, REM and awake times as well as it showed a graph of my respiration and movements through the night which I found very interesting.

One of the main new features on the Forerunner 745 is Training Suggestions. These suggestions pop up daily on the pre run screen and are based on your recent training load and training results.

Too often, it would tell me to take a rest day or do some low intensity training. Other times, on easy days, it suggested I run 42 minutes at a pace of 5.05 per kilometre which is below threshold pace for me and far below my easy pace.

I didn’t find these suggestions very useful and I never used them because they were either too intense or not intense enough but I can see it being useful for beginner runners.

Accuracy and battery life Garmin Forerunner 745

I experienced about 19 hours of battery life while running using GPS mode which is above Garmin’s claim of only 16 hours. If you’re streaming music from your watch to your earphones, then Garmin claims that battery life in GPS mode is only 6 hours.

In smartwatch mode, the Forerunner 745 has up to 7 days of battery life.

The PulseOx sensor is a nice feature to have but I switched it off because the battery drained considerably faster when it was automatically measuring my blood oxygen levels.

My favourite thing about the Forerunner 745’s battery is that it charges quickly. It charges from 0 to 100% in about an hour and thirty minutes.

On average, I had to charge it 2 times a week which is twice the frequency that I had to charge the Polar Vantage V2.

When uploading runs to Strava, I found that the distances and the paces were very close to what they were on the watch. With other watches, my runs that were uploaded to Strava were further and faster than what was recorded on the watch.

GPS tracking on the Forerunner 745 was very accurate when running out in the open but as soon as the pathway went undercover, my pace went much slower than I was actually going and route tracking showed that I had crossed the road which I hadn’t done.

The Forerunner also has a new feature called Track Run which can automatically detect the length of the track and afterwards show you your exact path in the lane that you ran in as well as your splits for each lap.

Overall, I found GPS route and pace tracking to be on par with other watches such as the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Vantage V2.

Alternatives Garmin Forerunner 745

At also $500, the Polar flagship, the Vantage V2 is a big competitor. The Vantage V2 has a larger screen and a more stylish smartwatch design. It also has a bigger battery and 100m water resistance compared to 50m on the Forerunner 745.

The Forerunner 745 is lighter and smaller than the Vantage V2. It also has NFC cardless payments and onboard music which the Vantage V2 doesn’t have.

The more expensive Garmin Forerunner, the 945 is $100 more and is also an alternative. The 945 has full offline maps and twice the battery life but it is slightly bigger and heavier than the 745.

Conclusion Garmin Forerunner 745

I thoroughly enjoyed my time testing the Forerunner 745 and the thing that I liked most about it was how customizable it was.

The ConnectIQ store has a wealth of apps, widgets and watch faces so you’ll never get tired of looking at your 745.

It’s light, comfortable to wear and has a rugged, sporty design so I didn’t have to worry about scratches or bumps.

The Forerunner 745 is not the perfect watch though. Its battery only lasts half as long as competitors and Garmin Pay isn’t open to many banks so you probably won’t be able to use NFC cardless payments.

I also think that the Forerunner 745 is priced too closely to the top of the range 945 which is now discounted and almost the same price as the newer 745.

With the Forerunner 745, you get the core Garmin features that make Garmins so popular as well as the fancy bonus features like a pulse oximeter, onboard music and Training Suggestions.

All of these features make the Forerunner 745 a complete and powerful multisport watch that will help you train better and smarter.

Price comparison:
Garmin Forerunner 745

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I run over 40km per week, I use them primarily for running
I have waited quite long to buy a quality optical wrist heart rate (HR) monitor.

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