This 8-year-old running watch is beating out the Apple Watch for Strava users — Garmin Forerunner 235 tops the list of the service's most popular exercise watches

Apple Watch Series 9 Garmin Watch
(Image credit: Future)

The Garmin Forerunner 235 was quite an impressive watch in its heyday but it seems it has only gotten more popular with age, as it was somehow Strava’s most popular watch of the year in 2023. 

Strava, an app for tracking exercise and communicating with other runners, swimmers, and more, has reported its ‘Year In Sport,’ going over some important stats for its fitness aficionados. It revealed that the most popular devices for uploading data are the Garmin Edge 530 and Garmin Forerunner 235. The former launched in 2019 and the latter launched in 2015. 

Although Strava has app integration for Apple Watches, they don’t crack the top two most used wearables for Strava users. Newer Garmin watches, like the Garmin Forerunner 955, which launched in 2022, also did not make the cut. This is a sign of how great a deal the Garmin Forerunner 235 currently is.

Why pick Garmin? — iMore’s take

The Garmin Forerunner 235’s price point is pretty great at just a few hundred dollars new and much less than that second-hand. With its GPS, it tracks distance, pace, time, heart rate, and more, which matches modern Apple Watches. However, The Garmin Forerunner 235 is a dedicated exercise watch with great durability and a battery life that can last up to 11 days in its standard mode. It also works for up to 11 hours in GPS mode, making you a bit more secure in emergencies. The Apple Watch Series 9 lasts a similar amount of time when sharing a location but isn’t nearly as efficient when it comes to its standard battery mode, which only gets you a day or two. 

This is all before mentioning both the greatest bonus and biggest hindrance of an Apple Watch for exercisers — you need to be in the Apple ecosystem. Apple Watches don’t function without an iPhone, meaning you have to commit to much more than just the watch. If you are just looking for a reason to run, Garmin can get you going for just $100. 

The Apple Watch Ultra 2, the best Apple Watch, is an excellent choice for an active life and one we recommend, but there are cheaper options for someone who doesn’t want all the fancy features of modern smartwatches. The Garmin Forerunner 235 seems to be so popular because it’s great for exercisers. 

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James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.

  • seonline
    It's important to know for serious runners most the previous Apple Watches could not last an entire marathon while tracking everything. They would die before the marathon was over. I have an aunt who does multiple iron mans in a year and she wanted an Apple Watch but it never made it through her entire events so she was always going with Garmin's. Apple Watch only lasts a full day when it's doing light tasks and notifications not constant tracking. Additionally, I believe it tracks heart rates every 4 to 5 seconds where as many Garmin's will do it every second.