In the Garmin line-up it sits towards the top end, delivering the premium level features associated with options like the Forerunner 945 and the Garmin Fenix 6.
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Training modes cover everything from triathlon to a comprehensive selection of specific options including activities like kayaking and bouldering. However, it's not the range of activities where this level of Garmin watch excels, but the tracking options and analytics available for the core modes.
The watch also incorporates a selection of non-fitness focussed features as well, including payments, a music player and notifications.
Price: $499.99 | Weight: 47g | Size: 43.8 x 43.8 x 13.3 mm | Display: Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel | Screen: 240 x 240 pixels | 24/7 Heart rate monitor | GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO | Sleep Monitor | Pulse Oximeter | Garmin Pay and built-in music player | Battery: Smartwatch mode – Up to 7 days, GPS mode with music – Up to 6 hours, GPS mode without music – Up to 16 hours, UltraTrac mode: Up to 21 hours
As looks go, not a great deal has changed in the Forerunner 745 model from the other options in the lineup. The one aspect of the watch that is worth mentioning, though, is the size. Coming in at a noticeably slight 43mm, it will clearly be of interest to those athletes who prefer their training watches to be on the subtle side.
The polymer case has five physical buttons to control the various features, a design aspect which offers one of the most intuitive interfaces across all the running watches we've tested. Like the Forerunner 945 and Fenix 6, operating the detailed range of features really does need multiple buttons and once you get the hang of the Garmin set-up it's an incredibly logical and powerful system.
The Forerunner 745 comes in four different colorways at the point of publishing, with the red and "Neo Tropic" versions offering something more than the more conventional black and white designs. These come with a silicone 22mm band – unfortunately not the significantly easier to use QuickFit band found on the Fenix 6.
The 1.2-inch transflective display delivers a clear screen that works well in all light conditions. It isn't the crispest or most colourful screen if you compare it to many smartwatches – but that's the price you pay when it comes to balancing battery life with screen quality. Like with the Forerunner 945 or Fenix 6, it delivers a consistently good experience, in this case with a 240 x 240 resolution.
The main selling point of the Forerunner 745, along with the other premium Garmin watches, is without a doubt the comprehensive selection of training tools and metrics available. Aside from the standard features that you'll find across most sorts watches – things like pace, cadence, heart rate and elevation – the 745 receives a wealth of Garmin's increasingly growing training features.
Activities cover everything that anyone using the watch is likely to want, from running, cycling and swimming to more specialist activities like skiing and kayaking. The level of features available in each of those options varies, but the core modes incorporate a wide variety of tracking capabilities and a wealth of resultant data.
Running is one of the richest in terms of functions, with the 745 taking advantage of Garmin's latest training features. This includes Track Mode – a tool which delivers accurate recordings when you're doing a track workout, Daily Workout Suggestions – which uses your stored activity history to give you suggested formats when you head out for a session, and Garmin Coach – a personalised training plan based on your goals and your training history.
In testing, we found all of these features worked well. Our favourite was Daily Workout Suggestions, offering clear training formats to follow that utilize historical data to provide intelligent sessions. These vary between simple recovery runs to sprint interval sessions, guiding you with beeps and on-screen prompts at key points throughout the workout.
There are also profiles for outdoor activities including hiking, trail running and skiing – which include point-to-point breadcrumb navigation, a triathlon mode that allows for easy switching of sports during the activity, ClimbPro support for cyclists to help plan elevation on route, and SWOLF numbers for swimmers.
For data aficionados the 745 packs a lot of features, many that you may have already seen on Garmin's premium options such as the Fenix 6 and the Forerunner 945. These training insights are largely based on FirstBeat Analytics and include Training Status, Loads insights, Training Load Focus, and new additions to the Garmin armoury, the updated Recovery Advisor and Suggested Workouts.
Both of these features take insights to the next level when it comes to your training plan and offer guidance on what training you should be doing for optimum effectiveness, as well as how much rest you should be getting.
With Suggested Workouts, we found the advice – delivered before accessing activities – was largely on the money. Running workouts vary between base recovery runs and interval sessions focussing on speed, generally fitting in nicely with how we felt on the day. By far one of the most comprehensive training tools we've seen on a wearable device.
Recovery adviser is also an impressive tool, taking in data from stress, sleep and daily activity to offer clear advice on when you should be training and when you should be entertaining the idea of taking it easy for a day. On the days that we listened to it, we found the following training session benefited from the guidance.
Overall, these features seemed to work very well, and offer a very useful sense check, especially for people who aren't as knowledgeable around maximising training and rest. It should however be noted that accuracy when it comes to wearable technology is still not quite perfect, so it's worth wearing a heart rate monitor to ensure your insights are accurate as possible.
We were impressed with the accuracy experienced from the various sensors on the 745. The GPS delivered exceptionally well when tested against phone tracking and other devices, and we found no issues in two weeks of testing on road, trail and track sessions.
Heart rate accuracy is also very good, managing to pick up peaks and dips in an interval session almost as well as using the Garmin HRM-Pro connected to a phone. It uses the latest generation Elevate heart rate that and delivers the bulk of training feature insights found in the watch.
Here's a comparison of a session using the 745 (left) and the HRM Pro connected to the Polar Beat app (right) using a Google Pixel 3A.
The 745 claims to deliver seven days in smartwatch mode, up to six hours with GPS and music in use, 16 hours in GPS mode, and there's an UltraTrac mode giving you up to 21 hours. When compared with other models available from Garmin these numbers are towards the lower end, presumably because of the combination of premium features and the fact it's one of the smaller options you can get from the brand.
We found that those claimed numbers are largely accurate. We generally needed to charge the watch once a week when performing an average of one activity a day and utilizing the bulk of the smartwatch features.
When compared to watches outside of the Garmin world, battery capability is a hot topic, with brands like Coros delivering exceptional numbers in devices like the Pace 2 and the Apex. So if long battery life is at the top of you wishlist, the 745 may struggle to keep you happy.
Outside of the extensive range of sports tracking and training tools that you get in the 745, there are plenty more feature to take advantage of. 24/7 activity tracking, sleep monitoring and stress tracking are all there and you can activate notifications to get wrist-based updates from you various phone apps.
Garmin Pay is a useful feature, although you'll need to check which banks it works with, and the built-in music player allows you to download up to 500 songs, with support for Spotify, Amazon Music and Deezer.
Finally, you've got the Garmin's Connect app, which makes it easier to manage watch features via your phone, and the Connect IQ store, which allows you to download apps and customise the design of the device.
The Garmin Forerunner 745 is a satisfying and comprehensive device when it comes to multi-sport tracking. It takes the best of Garmin's extensive feature set and delivers it in a compact and sleek design that's well worth a look if you want a something smaller on the wrist.
Functionality and accuracy are both very good and the whole user experience is exactly what you would expect from a premium Garmin. The main problem for us is the price, which, considering the battery life, struggles to compete with Garmin's other premium offerings as well as the significantly cheaper Coros range.