Garmin Forerunner 645 Music, Garmin’s first step to incorporate larger audience with Music and NFC payments did not work
Garmin Forerunner 645 Music, as the name suggests is Garmin’s first wearable to have music onboard. The previous devices only control music on your phone but they neither have internal storage to load songs nor play songs by connecting to an external bluetooth speaker. Forerunner 645 Music added Garmin Pay (for contactless payments), Skiing/Snowboarding tracking, HRV (heart Rate Variability) Stress app, Strava Live Segments, and many more.
Forerunner 645 Music is basically a running smartwatch. Unlike previous Forerunner watches, 645 Music tracks indoor pool swimming and sports like skiing, snowboarding, stand-up paddle boarding, rowing, and more. These are all new for the Forerunner series but not for users who already had multisport or Fenix series of watches.
Garmin Forerunner 645 music comes with contactless payments, access to millions of songs from your favourite streaming services such as iHeartRadio or Spotify (added after the watch‘s release), listen to podcasts or audiobooks, and share your workout targets in your community. As with every other Garmin watch, the price is expensive. Given the depth of focus on fitness and added music functionality, we will check if the watch is worthy enough compared to its competitors.
Key features :
- Music storage and playback via bluetooth
- 24/7 heart rate monitor
- 7 days battery life in Standby mode
- Garmin Pay
- Corning gorilla glass
Screen & design :
Garmin Forerunner 645 music has an elegant design with the metal rim around the edge of the 1.2 inch TFT touch display. This design not only adds style but also protects gorilla glass 3 which covers the screen. Garmin Forerunner 645 music comes with a 42.5 x 42.5 x 13.5 mm case dimension, weighs around 42.2g which is much lighter, and this loss of weight is due to the decrease in the size of the battery.
The screen of the watch is specially designed to be used mainly in the outdoors as it provides a crisp screen display even in the sunlight- thanks to the sunlight chroma display. Here the TFT display consumes less power when compared to AMOLED display, but when we talk about the screen visibility, the AMOLED provides much higher screen visibility and is vibrant than TFT. Though TFT covers all the daily activities with a better screen visibility, AMOLED still looks good.
Garmin Forerunner 645 has 240*240 pixel screen resolution. 5ATM water resistant device which is perfectly capable to swim and shower with it. The watch strips can be changed easily and also available in different colours. Garmin Forerunner 645 bezel is made up of stainless steel. This watch has an allover of 5 buttons- 3 on the left and the other two on the right. The back of the watch is equipped with a socket for the charger and heart rate sensor.
The device is Wifi and bluetooth enabled. The Garmin Forerunner 645 has rechargeable built- in lithium ion battery that can stand up to 7 days while tracking activities, smartphone notifications, and heart rate. The device only lasts up to 14 hrs with GPS, and up to 5 hrs with GPS + Music
Garmin Forerunner 645 got love from Spotify. The streaming giant added Spotify support for offline music by giving the ability to download playlists on to the watch. During the launch, the watch only supported iHeartRadio and Deezer.
Music plays a major role in this watch. Garmin Forerunner 645 music has 4GB internal storage that can carry about 500 songs. However, 0.5 GB goes for the system, so technically the watch only has 3.5 GB internal storage for music files, podcasts, or offline playlists from streaming services.
The watch does not have a sound of its own. You need to connect the Garmin Forerunner 645 to an external bluetooth speaker (even your car). The device can access playlists through your smartphone, WiFi or through internal storage.
Garmin payments :
Another new feature Forerunner series is contactless payments. This feature is also secured with the pin code for the security purpose. While entering your passcode, 3 incorrect passcode attempts can result in watches wallet block. You again need to go to the Garmin app in the phone to set up a new pass code. You can manually enter the details of the card which is to be used or can just scan the card from Garmin Pay, and you can also edit or add one or more payment methods.
Automatic rep counting :
Automatic rep counting in Garmin Forerunner 645 does a good job at counting reps for almost all movements as long as you are moving more than 3 inches.
Rep counting tells the number of reps performed during an exercise. The watch can detect exercises designed to target single muscle groups/body parts. The exercises recognized by the device typically consist of a basic motion and include a start, repeat, and end with a rest period in-between sets.
Garmin Forerunner 645 Music provides good tracking for dumbbell flyes which are all done while laying down and moving upwards. Here it recognises your gym exercises by the moments you do and provide accurate results.
Monitors your abilities :
The Forerunner 645 Music will help you monitor your training activity, which offers you a better preparation for a race or training cycle. Training status is a performance monitoring tool that automatically analyzes from your recent exercise history and also a performance indicator to let you know, if you’re training productively or not. The anaerobic training effect metric tells you how your training is improving day by day and pushes your abilities. You can even view your overall training load, which measures your exercise volume from the last 7 days and compares it to the optimal range for your fitness and recent training history and gives you a complete score followed by the suggestions.
Pool Swim :
The Forerunner 645 Music has some advanced swim tracking techniques. It can track strokes, swolf, number of trips around the pool. Measuring swolf is nothing but the sum of the time for one pool length and the number of strokes per length. It also displays time and distance for the previous interval. This drill log feature is available only in pool swimming where it manually records data like kick sets and one arm swimming.
Importantly, Forerunner 645 Music cannot record heart rate underwater either by optical HR sensor or by data from Garmin HRM-TRI or HRM-SWIM strap. The Garmin forerunner 745 can load the data from external Garmin straps but not this.
Also note that the Forerunner 645 does not support open water swimming. So you need to enter the length of your indoor pool for it to start tracking your swim activity.
Find my phone:
Another interesting feature is that we can find our misplaced or lost phone. This feature also helps to locate a lost mobile device by pairing with wireless Bluetooth connectivity. Hold the light button of the watch and use the menu by selecting Find my phone app. Your watch alerts your phone and your lost mobile device starts making loud noise. There you go, I found it! Also, the Bluetooth signal strength increases as you move closer to your mobile device.
Final verdict :
While it’s good that Garmin came out of its comfort zone and added music to the Forerunner series, the fitness watch is still expensive and needs to incorporate features that are only available in high-end Garmin units. For instance, underwater HR tracking is there in Garmin Forerunner 745 through external hardware (HRM Straps). I do not see how price is a barrier to give this functionality to the Forerunner 645 Music. For this price, I expect viewable maps (like car GPS). Forerunner 645 Music only provides a breadcrumb trail map (which actually works pretty well). Even the Music feature is not fully rich like we see in premium smartwatches such as Apple and Fitbit. No external audio (only can play via Bluetooth speaker) and less internal storage, with lesser flexibility to navigate around the playlists. We do not have cellular connectivity and a lot more smartwatch features that are available by default from competitors.
Now, if you already have been a Forerunner fan because of its fitness features, then the added Music feature and NFC payments using Garmin Pay might get your attention. Even in sports, Forerunner does not support Multisport and Triathlon modes. So this device is not for everyone, and I would recommend you to check other Forerunner series that were released later, and also check touchscreen enabled smartwatches at a similar price range.