After the very good Garmin Forerunner 15 which we offered you a full test a few months ago, the manufacturer continues to evolve its products at a rate particularly strong, with its new entry-level GPS watch, the Garmin Forerunner 25.
This new model incorporates the main features of the previous ones, namely a watch intended for athletes wishing to obtain a correct follow-up of their performances while integrating a module allowing to follow its activity (number of steps, calories burned, etc …), but sees itself now equipped with Bluetooth Smart, allowing direct synchronization to your Smartphone or access to notifications (incoming calls, e-mail, messages …). The design is also reworked, with a thinner dial and a wider screen, facilitating the reading of information during the effort.
The Garmin Forerunner 25 is in direct competition with the Polar M400, with relatively similar features and an equally affordable price ( see even more during promotions, especially at Amazon ). Full return on its use and its performance after several releases at its side.
Nothing surprising about the packaging of this new FR25. We find a classic rectangular box, whose front transparent plastic offers a direct view of the product.
The main features are listed at the back of it, in several languages including French. We learn that the watch can track the distance traveled, its pace or heart rate (by connecting a heart rate monitor belt) during his training, but also his daily activity or notifications received on his Smartphone.
Unpacking it all, there is a complete user manual, a warranty booklet, and a USB cable that can be used both to recharge the battery of the watch to synchronize its data.
Note that the Garmin Forerunner 25 is also available in an HR version with a cardio belt. The latter is not the most recent model of the brand, and since we already have the Garmin textile belt (HRM-Run), we will rather use it during our test.
Design & Ergonomics
- First of all, it’s important to note that Garmin’s latest is available in two different sizes, making it easy to fit women’s wrists, which are often thinner than men’s.
- For our article, we have a large version. The difference between the two versions, besides the size obviously of the bracelet and the screen), is also at the level of the colors. The wide version is available in blue or black tones, and the “Small” version in more feminine, purple or pink tones.
- Overall, the design of the FR25 is close to the old FR20, with a relatively simple style consisting of a monochrome backlit display and two four buttons to navigate between the different menus. However, there is increased readability, including diagonal screen, increased by 32%, which helps to consult his statistics in full effort.
- The dial itself is, however, thinner, and less rounded than on the previous version. Everything is also lighter, with a weight on the scale of only 31g for the Small version and 39g for the Large version. She will quickly be forgotten once around the wrist.
- The bracelet is always made of silicone; the central part is perforated to adjust the size to each morphology easily, but also let the air to breathe the skin better. Its texture is, however, less pleasant than on the Polar M400 to our taste.
- The closure system, made of steel, is all that classic with a standard clasp and a buckle to prevent the bracelet from moving in all directions while running. The set seems to offer correct resistance and should hold up over time.
- The dial is constructed of plastic, with a relatively wide black outline and four buttons surrounding it (two on each side). The grip is quick and particularly intuitive, with a button to activate the backlight, a second to return to the previous page, a third to scroll through the menus and a last (color) to start training or validate a choice.
- Note that it is only possible to go down when scrolling through the different pages, and it is, therefore, necessary to redo an entire cycle if we pass a little too quickly on the menu that we wanted to open. It is done quickly, but it remains a slight defect.
- The back of the dial is the same color as the bracelet (a bright blue in our case) and has a 4-pin connector to recharge the clock or synchronize data (although it is now possible to sync the FR25 directly via Bluetooth). This is a proprietary cable, so be careful not to misplace it.
- If the overall construction of the watch is relatively simple ( we are far from a Garmin Forerunner 225 for example ), it is nonetheless very well done and robust. The look remains oriented “sport,” unless to opt for the black version, a little more sober than the others. This is not necessarily an advantage, since the Forerunner 25 is designed to be worn both during the day to track your activity, as during training foot races, and we must admit that we see ourselves wearing a watch with a blue bracelet in the office.
- Finally, it is worth noting that the watch is completely waterproof up to 50 meters, so you can keep it on the wrist both at the pool and at the beach, even if no swimming mode is present on the wrist ( it will rather be a Garmin Swim for example ).
First, start and pick up
When you first start the watch, it is necessary to configure it according to your data. After selecting the language of use (the French are apparently available), we can adjust the units (Miles or Kilometers), the time format (12 or 24 hours) or to activate or not the tracking of activity. In addition to these parameters, you will be asked for your gender, your year of birth, your weight and finally your height. The idea is not to fiddle with you, but to better adjust the different algorithms used by the watch to track your performance and in particular, the number of calories burned.
Once the FR25 is set up, Activity Tracking will begin its continuous recording (if you have it enabled, but it would be a shame to miss it). It is possible to change some parameters at any time from the options of the watch, especially to adjust its weight for example.
Before proceeding, it is also preferable to install the Garmin Express software, primarily to update the firmware of the watch. We will not linger here; everything is quite intuitive.
It will also be used to download the Garmin Connect application, from which it will be possible to consult all its recordings (both concerning activity monitoring and training). An appeal all the more important since the arrival of Bluetooth Smart, the synchronization can now be done directly, without any cable.
When using Garmin Connect for the first time, it is necessary to create a Garmin account if this is not already the case. Then, the coupling with the watch is again intuitively, with the watch and then fill in the Smartphone.
Follow your daily activities with the Forerunner 25
Integrated since the Garmin Forerunner 15, activity tracking allows as the name suggests to obtain a continuous record of his physical activity (or not) throughout the day. No big news on this side compared to the previous model, and the FR25 thus records the following statistics:
- Number of steps
- Distance traveled
- Calories burned (including those burned naturally)
This data is displayed in real time on the lower part of the dial, under the hour. We switch from one to the other from the lower left button, and it is also possible to display the goal to be achieved and the date of the day. Speaking of purpose, note that it automatically adjusts according to your previous results, to adapt to the pace of each. As a reminder, watches are based on some 10,000 steps per day.
If the watch measures your activity, it is also able to judge when it is time for you to move a little. There are therefore inactivity alerts, signaled by a beep and a vibration, activating automatically after a certain period without having walked. About 200 not enough usually to reset the counters (in addition to getting a little lift from your chair). The sleep analysis is also part of it and allows to record the number of hours of sleep, the different phases (deep sleep or restlessness) as well as the hours of sleep and waking. Of course, you have to be able to keep your watch on your wrist during your nights, which is not the case for everyone. In practice, the results seem consistent but still need to be taken with a few tweezers, the watch based your movements rather than the heart rate to record this data.
While activity monitoring is slightly active, it remains much less discreet than with some products only intended for this practice. Indeed, as explained above, with its sport-oriented design, the Garmin Forerunner 25 does not go unnoticed, where products like the Jawbone UP2 fit perfectly into a traditional outfit. However, the fact of being able to follow his training as well as his day with the same product remains a considerable advantage, especially if your budget is relatively tight. As with most GPS watches and activity sensors, all data is then directly viewable from a mobile application. For the FR25, it is Garmin Connect, which we briefly presented above. The application has just received a large redesign recently, with a new design and even more comprehensive features.
The main screen of the application is the tab “Photos.” This is a point at the instant T of your day, describing, in particular, the number of steps taken (relative to your goal) and the state of your last night. Below, we find the number of calories burned actively (that is to say by walking or training), the number of activities performed or food data directly extracted from your MyFitnessPal account. By clicking on each of these indicators, one can obtain additional details and in particular to consult the results of the previous days.
Still on the same tab “Photos,” it is possible to scroll to get more global views on the current week, with for example a page for your last nights or another tracing your last training. At a glance, you can see how many kilometers have been run in the previous 30 days. There is also a tab “Ranking,” listing your results compared to those of your friends. It’s quite well done, and it should allow some people to motivate themselves even more to move! The different pieces of training of your friends are also listed in the “News Feeds” tab, a bit like the most popular social networks.
Running with the Garmin FR25
If the Garmin watch can track its activity as explained above, its first feature is, of course, to accompany you during your running training to track your performance in detail with integrated GPS.
To start training, just press the “Running” button, the only colored one. A screen is displayed, looking for the best GPS signals to track your race, but also your heart rate monitor belt if you have one. While the heart monitor is usually spotted in seconds, it’s hard to say anything about GPS. It is often necessary to wait a few minutes before being ready to start his race, which can sometimes be penalizing. Unlike a TomTom Runner Cardio, for example, the satellites are not saved in the cache, hence the wait a little longer.
Once the signal is located, it is possible to start recording, and the information is displayed live on the screen. By default, it is possible to navigate between two screens, each displaying two different data, to choose from the list below (from the watch settings):
- Duration of the training
- Distance traveled
- Calories Burned
- Lap time
- Tower distance
- Tour pace
- Average pace
In case a heart rate monitor belt is connected (both the one available in the HR version and another compatible product), a third screen is also displayed, showing your BPM and your heart rate zone. Interestingly, the areas are presented with a decimal place after the comma, which allows even better management. If you want to stay in zone 3, it will slow down if you approach 3.8 for example.
During the race, you can scroll through these three screens with a single press on the lower right button of the Garmin Forerunner 25. The font is large and perfectly readable at a glance, even in direct sunlight. Too bad, however, that it is not possible to display more than two data fields per page, in the manner of the TomTom Runner separating its dial into four fields, including two smaller ones.
In addition to the basic recording, racing options are obviously on the agenda. Accessible from the screen looking for the GPS signal, there are several modes to adjust his training according to many criteria:
- Race / Walk: An option though for fans of fractional, and we know that they are numerous. For neophytes, this mode allows for alternate running times and walking (or rest), for example, 1 minute of sprint and 40 seconds of rest. Alerts are triggered automatically whenever it is time to move from one pace to another.
- Virtual Pacer: This mode allows to define a pace of the race, it will try to hold the best during his training. When this option is enabled, a new screen appears on the watch, in addition to the three previously described, indicating whether you are above or below your goal. An interesting option and particularly practical to train to keep a regular rhythm.
- Time: As its name suggests, allows you to assign a time goal to your workout. A gauge is filled then as you progress;
- Distance: Same as for the previous option, we assign a distance goal for its output. You can select default distances (5 km, 10 km, Semi and Marathon, or customize it). The FR25 then displays a percentage of progress during training and regular alerts.
- Calories: To assign a calorie burn target to your workout. As before, a gauge is filled up as you progress.
In addition to these different running options, note that it is possible to schedule alerts based on the heart rate zones. We can for example set up an alert as soon as we enter the zone 5, reminding us that it is probably good to lift a little foot.
The last point regarding the race options, it is possible from the settings of the watch to set up the Auto-Pause, temporarily stopping the recording temporarily if you are stopped (pedestrian crossing for example). It is also possible to opt for the Auto-Lap mode (1km segment) or Touch Lap (it will press a button to move to the next turn) and finally choose to display the speed rather than the pace. During training, pressing the Running button allows you to manually pause it (useful if you want to stop drinking a little for example). From the screen, it is also possible to end the session, by choosing to save it or not. By memorizing the latter, a screen summarizes the data, displaying, for example, the distance traveled, your pace or your time turn by turn. If you’ve beaten some of your personal bests, additional screens will tell you that too.
The Garmin Forerunner 25 stores your last seven training sessions, which you can view directly from the screen. For others, but also to view all your statistics in detail, it will, of course, go through the Garmin Connect Mobile application (or directly on the Internet platform of the manufacturer, Garmin Connect). As for activity tracking, the data is automatically synchronized when you open the application (with Bluetooth activity) while keeping the watch nearby.
We find the different synchronized training in the “Calendar” tab. Then select the desired day and the list of different activities of the day is displayed. By opening a running training, we find all the usual information, displayed on several screens that can be scrolled with a simple swipe. The first screen presents the main statistics of the training, namely distance, time and calories burned, or average pace and elevation. Below, a map retraces your route (we can obviously zoom in to see more details).
On the second tab, we find more information about his effort, including the average pace, maximum speed, heart rate or the pace of the race. The third page presents a table listing your average times and speeds for each circuit (1 km by default), while the fourth and last tab displays all this information as graphics. One can thus very quickly appreciate its pace or its frequency throughout its course. It is recalled that all this information can also be consulted from the Garmin Connect website. These are also a little more detailed, the place being much larger on a computer screen than a smartphone. Note that the data is also updated on the Internet platform from the moment it was synchronized to the Smartphone.
Notifications & other features
As we have seen, to keep track of your activity and training performance, the Garmin Forerunner 25 is doing pretty well for the price, but it also has additional features.
Most notable is the display of notifications. By keeping Bluetooth enabled on your Smartphone, you can view messages, e-mails, incoming calls and other notifications directly from your watch screen. A particularly handy option during training, to quickly read a message without taking your smartphone out of your armband, or at the office if your phone is in silent mode in your pocket for example. Note, however, that it is not possible to choose which specific notifications are displayed on the FR25 and that you can only enable or disable the feature.
It is also possible to set up an alarm from the watch (for its wake up for example). We can also cite the listing of personal records, to consult at any time its best time per km, for 5 km or the longest distance traveled during training with the Garmin watch.
At the level of autonomy, it is first important to note that the latter varies depending on the model selected. Indeed, in its Small version, the Forerunner 25 is more compact and therefore embeds a battery also reduced. Count 8 hours of use in GPS mode and eight weeks in classic use for the S model, and 10 hours of GPS use or 10 weeks in the mode for the L model.
In practice, these figures vary according to the different options selected. If you often use the backlight, and the activity tracking and notifications are activated permanently, the autonomy will obviously be impacted. In the idea, we will reload the watch once a week for three training sessions of two hours with GPS enabled, and other features in place the rest of the time.
All in all, this new Garmin Forerunner 25 is an excellent choice in the entry-level sports GPS watches. By offering both tracking your activity (and your sleep), as accurately record your running sessions, Garmin’s small watch is complete and above all very simple to take in hand. Obviously, we will only advise you to add a heart rate monitor belt to enjoy all its features, which may add a few tens of euros to the final price if you do not already have a belt.
The addition of direct synchronization via Bluetooth is an element tipping the balance in its favor compared to the old FR20, especially since it is also possible to enjoy its notifications directly on the screen now. The completely redesigned Garmin Connect app allows you to track your progress efficiently and ranks among the best on the market.
However, the price displayed for this FR25 remains in our opinion still too high to recommend it. This is due to the availability of the Polar M400, equally effective and less expensive, but also the price of the Garmin FR220, more efficient, an almost identical price.