Garmin Forerunner 620 Review

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Garmin continues to dominate the GPS watch market with their latest high-end running watch, the Forerunner 620. Garmin has not only made the Forerunner 620 sleeker and lighter than its predecessor, it has also improved the battery life, added a color display, and created an entirely new set of training metrics and features.

Despite being nearly similar in size and thickness, the Forerunner 620 weighs an entire ounce less than the prior version, the Forerunner 610 (1.5 oz vs. 2.5 oz). Further improvements were made to the display which now sports a high resolution and color screen. Battery life is 10 hours while in training mode. This is about average for most GPS watches; however, it does show a slight improvement over the 610.

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Garmin has created a new set of training aids and tracking metrics with the Forerunner 620. It’s such a change from other GPS watches that Garmin is marketing the 620 as a running coach on your wrist.

Most notably is the feature set Garmin calls Running Dynamics. These new metrics record your cadence – the number of foot strides per minute; ground contact – how long each foot stays in contact with the road; and vertical oscillation – how much your torso bounces up and down. It should also be noted that these tools don’t work without wearing Garmin’s new heart rate monitor. A more detailed explanation can be found here; but the gist is that these metrics are supposed to track your running efficiency: how quickly your feet turnover and how much energy is wasted with up and down movements.

Another new feature is Recovery Adviser. The Forerunner 620 will gauge the intensity of each workout and try to advise how much rest to take before another run. This is displayed on the watch as a countdown and can range from 6 to 96 hours. Like Running Dynamics, this feature doesn’t work without the heart rate monitor. But how much trust should be put on what’s essentially a complex algorithm based on heart rate to determine recovery time? Listening to your body might be a better strategy. Then again, this feature could be useful if you are prone to overtraining.

garmin forerunner 620 on wrist

Also requiring the use of the heart rate monitor is the VO2 Max estimator. This indicates your overall fitness measured in an aerobic capacity. Finding your actual VO2 Max requires performing tests in a medical laboratory, so like Recovery Adviser, the number Garmin produces may not be accurate. But at a minimum it will show overall fitness changes.

Working from the VO2 Max data, the Forerunner 620 will also predict various race finishing times. How accurate is it? Given the various factors that can impact a race time, it’s probably not accurate at all. But it should provide a general guideline of what to aim for on race day.

The Forerunner 620 comes equipped with a built-in accelerometer. This allows it to track speed and distance indoors on a treadmill. Older Garmin’s could do this, but only with a small foot pod attached to your shoe (which is still compatible with the 620).

And like Garmin’s previous high-end GPS watches, the Forerunner 620 has auto-lap and auto-pause. Customized and interval workouts can be programmed on the watch. New to the 620 are full training plans on Garmin’s website that can be uploaded onto the watch. Workout activity can uploaded to Garmin Connect for further analysis.

The Forerunner 620 also includes a new feature called Live Tracking. It allows friends and family to follow your exact progress during a race or event. One caveat is that it only works when paired with a smartphone.

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While Garmin’s new features sound nice and provide new training data, the downside is you must wear the heart rate monitor to record these metrics. While there is certainly a time and place for heart rate monitors, their use isn’t always needed, especially with the discomfort they can sometimes cause. Another issue with the Forerunner 620 is its relatively average battery life as compared to similarly priced watches. 10 hours isn’t terrible, but it’s not ideal.

Overall, the 620 is a great watch that will provide you with all the training tools and data to maximize your runs and races. Sure, the battery life isn’t as good as other high-end watches on the market, but it should be good enough for most runners.


PROS:

  • Lightweight with an easy to read color display
  • Comes with useful training aids like interval and customizable workouts and Virtual Pacer
  • A techie runners dream with various kinds of data to track and monitor

CONS:

  • Requires purchasing and wearing Garmin’s newest heart rate monitor to utilize many of its features
  • Not optimized for other activities like cycling or swimming

WHO SHOULD BUY THIS WATCH
Runners

Runners looking for tons of training data and features will love this watch. Combined with a color display and thin, light-weight design, the Forerunner 620 outdoes most other high-end watches on the market.

Cyclists

The Forerunner 620 lacks bike-centric features, but works fine if you are only interested in tracking basic information like time, speed, and distance.

Swimmers

The Forerunner 620 is waterproof to 50 meters, making it suitable for swimming; however, it lacks advanced swim features.

FEATURES

Hardware

Battery-life: 10 hours exercise mode

Water-proof to 50 meters

Color display

Data Tracking

Time, Distance, and Speed/Pace

Calories

Heart rate calculated calories

Cadence

Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact)

Workout History

200 hours

Remembers Personal Records

Alerts & General Features

Auto lap

Auto pause

Time/distance audible and vibration alerts

Live Tracking (when used with smartphone)

Training Aids

Interval workouts

Customizable workouts

Virtual Pacer

Virtual Partner

Syncing

Downloads activities to your computer

Shares workouts on Facebook and Twitter (using Garmin Connect)

Syncs with smartphones

Accessories

Heart rate monitor

Food pod

Bike speed/cadence sensor

Other Functions

Time of day

Date

Alarms

Stopwatch