The Forerunner 220 is a feature-rich and attractively styled offering from Garmin, an industry leader in GPS devices of all kinds. It’s offered at a midrange price point, but it’s often featured in comparisons with much more expensive GPS watches. While the Forerunner 220 is notable for many of its features, it is perhaps most notable for its successful integration of Bluetooth connectivity, which has opened up all sorts of on-the-fly uses for what is a very capable running watch overall.
Garmin built a very loyal fan base of runners with earlier versions of running watches, and most of that enthusiasm for the brand was based solely on functionality. The earlier watches weren’t bad looking, but were known for being plain and utilitarian. The Forerunner 220 is even more capable than all the models that have come before it, but Garmin has tried and succeeded in bringing a bit of color and style to their line of running watches that many users had long expressed an interest in. The big, sharp, 1-inch full color display is a welcome change from Garmin’s earlier grayscale bezel, and the housing and strap are available in a few color combinations that bring a hint of style to the humdrum sports watch world.
- GPS-enable running watch
- Built-in accelerometer can track progress even when used indoors
- 1.4 ounces
- 1.8 inches by 1.8 inches by 0.5 inches thick
- Runs on one included Lithium-ion battery
- 1-inch diameter display
- 180 x 180 pixel display
- 10-hour battery life while in GPS mode
- Automatically uploads information to Garmin Connect
- Allows users to allow live tracking on social media accounts
- Keeps track of personal records
The Garmin Forerunner 220 is a little larger than a conventional watch, but users like how easy it is to read, and many people use it as an everyday watch as well as a running watch. It has a clear, sharp, colorful display that makes it easy to tell time without holding the watch right in front of your face. The Forerunner 220 uses simple button actuated menus that many users prefer over touchscreen watches that can disturb the rhythm and pace of a workout. The hinged watchband isn’t integral to the watch like earlier versions of Garmin running watches, but the adjustable strap is lightweight and has air holes that make is as comfortable as any aftermarket strap, so most users report they stick with the stock strap instead of customizing the watch. Both men and women report that the watch will fit on their wrist comfortably.
Easy To Use Without Fussing
The Forerunner 220 has a series of autonomous features that make it easy to enjoy a multitude of features on the watch without fussing with the buttons. The watch has both vibration alerts and audible alerts that deliver workout prompts that you can program once and then forget. If you program the watch for a run, the minute it’s completed the watch displays a summary of all the pertinent information for instant review.
Like a Personal Trainer Running at Your Side
The Forerunner 220 has so many features that run in the background that reviewers and users say using the watch is like have a personal trainer running alongside you during your workout. The watch gives constant feedback during a run without requiring the user to press any buttons, so you concentrate on your run and forget about your gear. If you run in urban environments, you’ll appreciate the onboard accelerometer that keeps information about your run going even when you dip out of sight from available satellites when you run though a tunnel or under a canopy of trees in a park.
Bluetooth Functionality Send Your Data in Real Time
The Garmin Forerunner 220 is Bluetooth-enabled, and you can synch it with many smartphones to allow you to upload data while you’re running as long as you’re within range of your phone’s signal. The data can be sent to your social media accounts or to Garmin Connect through their free app. Synching with Garmin Connect on a regular basis will improve the time it takes to get a satellite fix as a nice secondary benefit.
- Easy to use
- Big, easy-to-read bezel with bold numerals
- Color display has high resolution that makes it easy to read data while running
- Thinner and lighter than earlier models
- Reliable and accurate GPS location
- Waterproof so you can wear it in any weather
- Wide variations of screen displays lets you see the info you’re interested in at all times
- Bluetooth connectivity allows on-the-fly upload of information
- Intuitive buttons make finding and using menus a breeze
- Heart rate monitor (wiki) is easy to use and accurate
- GPS works well even in urban areas with tall buildings
- Looks fine when worn as an everyday watch
- Wristband is removable so you can customize the watch to your style and comfort
- Accelerometer allows watch to continue to function indoors or in tunnels
- Compatible with an ANT+ footpad to track pace and cadence without satellite information
- While colorful and stylish, some users wish it came in more color combinations
- Battery life isn’t best in class
- Locking onto a satellite signal can take a while when you first turn on the watch, but it is quick after that
Most users like the clean, easy to read display of three data fields on the big, 1-inch color screen, but a few users like to display a fourth set of numbers, and opt for another watch. Other than that, users are almost unanimous in their love for the Garmin Forerunner 220, with over 85 percent giving it at least four stars out of five after giving it a try. Many, if not most users describe the Forerunner as the perfect example of a sports watch that does a lot in the background while not requiring the user to be constantly fiddling with the device to see what’s happening. Automatic Bluetooth connectivity is also a user favorite, and many describe using workout data apps for the first time because the watch makes collecting and collating the information so easy. The Garmin Forerunner 220 is priced right, and it’s considered a best buy in its class. Highly recommended.