Garmin started 2013 with a fantastic portfolio of products. Their Garmin nuvi products continue to evolve with improved interfaces and better features even on the entry-level category. The Garmin Monterra combined Garmin’s premium hardware with Android’s rich ecosystem. But then if you looked at the Garmin Forerunner series of GPS watches back in 2013, you would notice how outdated these products looked compared with the rest. But that didn’t stop the Garmin Forerunner from being a successful product because GPS watches are all about the functions and battery life so you can expect Garmin to keep their watch products basic and perhaps add in a couple of new features. But in September 2013, Garmin surprised with the Garmin Forerunner 220 and its big brother the Forerunner 620. The Forerunner 620 features a color display and a number of improvements without penalizing the battery life. All the good stuff is naturally found in the higher-end model but Garmin isn’t giving the Forerunner 220 the minor treatment. The successor of the Forerunner 210 is a compelling product in its own right especially when you consider the price.

Garmin Forerunner 220

Garmin Forerunner 220

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Design

The Forerunner 220 is an upgrade over the 210 model in more ways than one. It is right up there with the Forerunner 620 when it comes to that color display so it really looks like monochrome screens are a thing of the past. But what you won’t be getting is the touch-enabled functionality and that explains why there are more buttons. But remember that this is a watch you are dealing with and using buttons isn’t all that bad. The look of the Garmin Forerunner 220 has been improved as well with a nice blue circular accent highlighting the color display. Plus, ladies can get the White/Violet model if they are not fans of black. The watch feels lighter as well making it more of an everyday wearable considering the sporty looks.

Features

The Forerunner 220 continues the entry-level Forerunner tradition by putting the focus on the running features. It has this cool feature called Auto Pause which automatically pauses the session when you stop. Once you begin to run again, the session will automatically continue. This makes the recording session more accurate if you frequently face intersections. As you continue running, you can get notified if you reached a personal record. You may also configure the watch to send vibration alerts for certain instances such as a mile split. The Forerunner 620 might be more of the coach companion but it is neat to some of the motivational features brought to the Garmin Forerunner 220 too.

The color display can serve as a motivator as well. The pixel density is far from today’s smartphone standards but the colors and graphics make the stats easier to read. You can actually look at your watch from time to time for motivational purposes without getting bored of the design.

One of the new features of the Forerunner 220 is the accelerometer built into the watch. If you will try to buy the Garmin Forerunner 220 in a store, you will notice that none of the bundles come with a footpod. This is what the accelerometer replaces and it does a good job in counting your steps and estimating the distance and speed.

The built-in Wi-Fi is reserved for the Forerunner 620 but don’t worry too much because the Forerunner 220 is still capable of pairing with smartphones. Garmin offers this free app called Garmin Connect Mobile in the Google Play and iTunes App store. Thanks to Bluetooth, it is easier to connect your smartphone and share your recorded data. You don’t need a separate USB stick just to use the Garmin Connect service. Garmin Connect provides free training plans that you can use with your watch too.

The Garmin Forerunner 220 comes with heart rate monitor support which makes the watch even more functional. You just have to get the HRM-Run monitor and have access to more data including ground contact time, vertical oscillation and cadence.

Battery life is very impressive as the Forerunner 220 can last for a good 6 weeks if you don’t use the GPS features. Turn it on and you can enjoy about 10 hours of GPS so you better make sure the watch is fully charged before running.

Bottom Line

Garmin can finally be proud of the company’s Forerunner devices because they are lighter, sporty and stylish. The color display really adds to the modern factor and the Garmin Forerunner 220 very much has all the same key features as the pricier Forerunner 620. But how much of a price difference are we talking about? Well, the $249 price tag makes the Forerunner 220 about $200 more affordable than the flagship model. You are only required to pay just $50 more if you need the heart rate monitor too.

Update: There is a newer model > Garmin Forerunner 620

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