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Garmin 745 vs 945 (2021): Which Forerunner Should You Get?

Are you looking for a running watch with built-in GPS and which delivers accurate heart rate readings? Chances are you’ve looked at or heard of Garmin’s Forerunner catalog. In this lineup, the Garmin Forerunner 745 and Forerunner 945 are two of the newer models. Both devices offer advanced fitness tracking while adding smart capabilities like contactless payments and onboard music storage.

Design-wise, it’s hard to tell one watch from the other. The 945, however, comes with a few extras and is priced slightly higher than the 745. Below, we compare the two and see if the difference in features is enough reason to buy one over the other.

Garmin 745 vs 945 Comparison Chart

ModelGarmin Forerunner 745Garmin Forerunner 945
TypeRunning watchRunning watch
Display Size1.2 inches1.2 inches
LensCorning Gorilla Glass DXCorning Gorilla Glass DX
Water Resistance5 ATM5 ATM
Maximum Battery Life7 days (Smartwatch mode only)14 days (Smartwatch mode only)
Music StorageUp to 500 songsUp to 1000 songs
Heart Rate MonitoringYesYes
Fitness and Activity TrackingYesYes
Blood Oxygen MonitoringYesYes
Sleep TrackingYesYes
Smart NotificationsYesYes
Offline MapsNoYes
Garmin PayYesYes
Dimensions43.8 x 43.8 x 13.3 mm47 x 47 x 13.7 mm
FitWrist size of 126-216 mmWrist size of 130-220 mm
Weight47 g50 g
Launch DateSeptember 2020April 2019

Design and Hardware

Garmin’s Forerunner 745 and 945 share largely identical design features. The 745, however, is smaller and comes in more colors compared to the 945.

You get more color options with the Garmin Forerunner 745 (left) compared to the Forerunner 945 (right).

The Garmin 745 and 945 both sport rugged designs familiar to the Forerunner series. You get round, 1.2-inch displays with 240 x 240 resolution. The lenses also use a scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass DX. For added durability, the bezels of both the 745 and 945 employ fiber-reinforced polymer. Their bands, on the other hand, are made from a comfortable and waterproof silicone material.

These Forerunners come with the standard five-button array โ€” three on the left and two on the right. Meanwhile, the advanced sensors for heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring are located at the back of the watch. With so many shared features, it can be hard to tell which device is which. But perhaps the most notable difference between the Garmin 745 and the 945 is size.

According to the company, the 745 is their lightest full-featured running watch. When placed next to the 945, the watch is noticeably smaller and lighter, considering both models have similar displays. This makes the 745 a more compact wearable that feels less chunky on the wrists. If you want a wrist-based device that’s less perceptible while running, you now know which model to get.

Typical of today’s smartwatches, the Garmin Forerunner 745 is available in different colors. Users can opt for sleek-looking Black and Whitestone or the more scene-stealing Neo Tropic and Magma Red. The Garmin Forerunner 945, on the other hand, only comes in Black.

Fitness and Activity Tracking

Fitness and activity tracking is at the heart of the Garmin 745 and 945’s capabilities.

Here’s a look at the 745’s activity modes and the 945’s preloaded maps.

While both Forerunners are advanced smartwatches, it’s clear that people get the Garmin 745 and 945 primarily for fitness tracking. Indeed, there are several features for this purpose that users can dig into. For instance, both wearables come with preloaded gym profiles and a plethora of training tools. Some of the metrics you can monitor include heart rate zones, recovery times, and calories burned. Users can also measure training load and progress to understand just how productive and efficient their activities are.

As expected, the Forerunner 745 and 945 boast solid running features. In this area, the two watches are pretty equal in terms of data monitored. Runners can choose from different running profiles and get real-time insight into their performance. These devices also support running dynamics since they’re both compatible with Garmin’s lineup of heart rate monitors. You can read more about how running dynamics work in our Garmin HRM-Pro vs HRM-Tri review.

When it comes to activity tracking, the Garmin 945 has a slight edge over the 745. Garmin’s top-of-the-line Forerunner supports over 30 different activities, including golf โ€” something missing on the 745. The Garmin 945 also tracks a few more metrics when it comes to outdoor recreation. Lastly, the watch comes with preloaded maps that work offline, perfect if you’re one to hike a trail.

Health Monitoring

Garmin’s feature-packed Forerunners include several health monitoring tools as well.

Users will like the Forerunner’s all-day heart rate monitoring via the sensors on the device’s back.

These Garmin wearables aren’t just for sports and fitness. The Forerunner 745 and 945 are equipped with health monitoring tools considered standard in today’s smartwatches. For example, both devices boast all-day heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, as well as stress tracking. Health buffs will also appreciate the in-app fitness age metric and the ability of the wearables to calculate an individual’s energy levels.

Garmin’s 745 and 945 share a couple more health features. These rugged devices, for instance, come with blood oxygen saturation monitoring. It’s a sensor that’s increasingly expected from today’s wearable tech. Both Forerunners also keep a tab on respiration rate, hydration, and menstrual cycle for women. You can even get alerts for abnormal heart rates.

Unlike Apple smartwatches, Garmin’s Forerunners don’t come with ECG-monitoring; but you still get fairly similar safety features. These include live tracking, live event sharing, and incident detection. Just note that live event sharing is only compatible with Android devices.

Smart Features and Battery Life

The Garmin 745 and 945 are packed with smart features. The latter, however, has a more impressive battery life.

Both the Forerunner 745 (left) and 945 (right) support Amazon music streaming and Garmin Pay.

If you’re someone who likes to stay connected even while training, then it’s worth considering the Garmin 745 and 945. Users can get smart notifications, contactless payments, and music controls from both devices. Those who want to leave their phones behind will like that you can store music locally, too. The 745 has room for up to 500 songs, while the 945 allows you to save up to 1,000 songs. You can even send text responses and reject phone calls using the watches, provided you’re using an Android device.

Battery life is where there’s a big gap between the two. With the Garmin 745, users can expect the watch to last for a week in smartwatch mode. Turn on the GPS and music, and battery life diminishes to about 6 hours. If it’s just on GPS mode, you get a more respectable 16 hours of juice. On the Garmin 945, you get up to 2 weeks of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 10 hours with GPS and music turned on. The GPS-only performance, on the other hand, delivers up to 36 hours of use.

Where the Garmin 745 outdoes the 945 is that it comes with an UltraTac mode. It’s a special GPS mode that limits GPS update rates to just once a minute. As a result, you can get about 21 hours of battery life for the 745.


Unless you have small wrists, Garmin’s Forerunner 945 is a more convincing running watch to buy compared to the 745.

The Garmin Forerunner 745 and 945 are both reliable wearables. Although marketed as running watches, they do so much more than just give insight into one’s running performance. Both devices deliver accurate tracking for several fitness and training activities. The watches also have the latest health monitoring features and smart capabilities.

Between the two, however, the Garmin Forerunner 945 feels like a more compelling purchase. It monitors more metrics for outdoor recreation and delivers superb battery life. The 945 comes with pre-loaded maps as well as dedicated support for golf activities. Perhaps the most convincing reason to choose it over the 745 is that it’s not significantly more expensive, too. So unless you’re someone who prefers a fairly smaller and lightweight device, it makes a bit more sense to get the Forerunner 945 instead.


๐Ÿ“Œ What’s the difference between the Garmin 745 and 945?

The Garmin 745 is a smaller and slightly more affordable Forerunner compared to the Garmin 945. The 945, however, has support for golf activities, a better battery life, and more local storage for music.

๐Ÿ“Œ What are the key sensors on the Garmin Forerunner 945?

Garmin’s Forerunner 945 features a built-in GPS, accelerometer, thermometer, compass, and gyroscope. The device can also monitor heart rate and blood oxygen saturation levels.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Garmin 945 available in bundles?

Yes, the Garmin 945 is also available as a bundle. With this option, users also get the HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim chest strap monitors, together with an extra set of bands.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Garmin 745 compatible with Spotify?

Yes, the Garmin Forerunner 745 is compatible with Spotify.

Last update on 2022-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.