Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Garmin Forerunner 745 – which is best?
We compare two of Garmin's high end sports watches to help you decide which is right for you
If you're looking for a great deal on a Garmin watch, the Forerunner 945 and 745 are likely to be two of the models on your radar. Both are high-end GPS watches packed with useful training tools – but what are the differences between them?
First, it's worth noting that the 745 is the newer of the two. The Garmin Forerunner 945 launched in April 2019, and earlier this year it was superseded by the Forerunner 955. The Forerunner 745 was launched in September 2020, and it doesn't look like Garmin has any plans to replace it until next year at the earliest.
However, that doesn't mean either watch is outdated. Garmin keeps its watches fresh with frequent firmware updates for several years after their launch, and the 945 will still serve you very well. It all depends on your needs and preferences, so here's out complete guide to help you choose between the two.
The pair are very similar, but the Forerunner 945 has double the battery life of the 745. It's also the superior watch when it comes to navigation and mapping, with road, trail, and topo maps preloaded, and the option to download more. It also has more internal storage than the 745, and is compatible with the Garmin Golf app.
If you want a more compact watch, the 745 is a better choice. Despite having exactly the same display as the 945, it has a significantly smaller case, and is a little lighter on the wrist as well.
Made up your mind? We've picked out the best prices on both watches for you right here. Still undecided? Read on for a detailed breakdown of both devices to help you choose the right one.
There's only one version of the Garmin Forerunner 745, but there are two 945 models. The standard version works just like any other high-end Garmin watch, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, but the Forerunner 945 LTE also lets you use a mobile data plan to use safety tracking and live event sharing without a Bluetooth connection to your phone.
Is that worth having? Well, honestly, probably not. The 945 LTE is more expensive than the standard 945, and you'll need to pay for a monthly service plan on top of the initial outlay. The LTE functionality is also pretty limited; you can't use it to send text messages, and the watch has no microphone, so you can't use it to make phone calls either.
You'll therefore need to carry your phone for use in emergencies anyway, and if you're doing that, there's no need for the other LTE functions.
Neither the Forerunner 945 nor the 745 is available with solar charging, with a sapphire crystal lens, or with premium materials like steel or titanium. It's resin and Gorilla Glass all the way.
The Forerunner 745 and 945 both have a list price of $499.99 (except for the 945 LTE, which is $599.99). That's pretty academic at the moment, though; both watches were released a couple of years ago, and are now available much more cheaply at third-party retailers.
They're often deeply discounted during sales, so keep an eye on our roundup of the best Black Friday Garmin deals for the cheapest offers when the big day rolls around.
The biggest difference between these two watches is battery life. The Forerunner 945 can last twice as long in smartwatch mode as the 745 (two weeks compared to one). The 945 can keep running for up to 10 hours in GPS mode with music, and up to 36 hours in GPS mode without. The 745 can go for six hours in GPS mode with music, and 16 hours in GPS mode without.
The Forerunner 745 and 945 have very similar designs, with fiber-reinforced resin cases featuring Garmin's traditional setup of five physical buttons, and 22mm Quickfit silicone bands.
Both feature color memory-in-pixel (MIP) displays with a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels. The makes them less striking than the OLED-equipped Garmin Epix (Gen 2) and Garmin Versa 2, but helps prolong battery life.
Both watches have the same size screen (30.4mm diameter), but the Forerunner 945 has a much larger case . The 945 measures 47 x 47 x 13.7mm, whereas the 745 is 43.8 x 43.8 x 13.3mm, making the 745 a better choice for smaller wrists.
The 945 is also slightly heavier (50g compared to 47g for the Forerunner 745), but that's not a difference you'll actually notice in use.
Health and fitness features
When it comes to everyday health tracking, the Forerunner 945 and 745 are identical. Both offer all-day heart rate monitoring (with abnormal heart rate alerts), SpO2 tracking, stress tracking, and sleep monitoring.
Training tools are also very similar. Whichever watch you choose, you'll get features including suggested workouts, VO2 Max estimate, training status (a relatively new addition that came via a software update), and estimated recovery time. If you opt for the Forerunner 945 LTE you'll also get Garmin's new Morning Report, but there don't seem to be any plans to bring this to the other watches.
Workout tracking modes are almost identical, but if you're a golfer, it's worth noting that only the Forerunner 945 can be paired with the Garmin Golf app.
The Forerunner 945 is also the superior device when it comes to maps and wayfinding. The Forerunner 945 and 745 both support GPS, Galileo, and GLONASS satellite navigation systems, and both offer tools like Tracback, point-to-point navigation, and breadcrumb trail in real time, but only the 945 gives you preloaded road and trail maps, plus topographical maps. It's also the only one that allows you to download additional maps.
Both offer the typical set of productivity tools you'd expect from a Garmin watch, including weather reports, a calendar, smartphone app notifications, and the ability to make NFC payments via Garmin Pay.
Both can also control music playback on your phone or play music from their own onboard storage, but the Forerunner 945 has much more storage for the purpose. While the Forerunner 745 can store up to 500 songs, the 945 can store up to 1,000.
You can download additional apps, faces, and data fields for either watch through the Garmin Connect mobile app on your phone.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).