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Garmin troubles

I have never been a watch person. Have not worn one in a looong time and never really got interested in one even when the smart watch hype started mounting.

Two months ago a was gifted a cheap knock-off step tracker and I suddenly realized that I was interested in having that kind of data (steps, sleep) tracked. The cheap tracker died after a few weeks, so I started my hunt. I like running (I try to run 5K, 3 times a week) so I thought maybe I should upgrade from a simple fitness tracker to a watch that I could use for running.

After a little of bit of searching I settled of the Garmin Forerunner 235. It checked all my requirements:

  1. physical buttons
  2. long battery life (at least a few days, I managed 6-7 days on a single charge)
  3. some smart features like notifications, calendar
  4. cardio sensor, and an accurate one at that
  5. GPS
  6. price in the 200€ 
At the beginning of May 2018 I got one from Amazon Warehouse in new condition, for 170€ and I immediately loved it. I particularly liked the alert to get up and move and the motivation to reach the daily step target. Receiving notifications from the phone to the watch was incredibly useful (I don't receive a lot of them, I guess if I got too many it could be annoying).

I checked cardio senso accuracy against a Polar chest strap and they pretty much matched each other. It was all rainbows and unicorns for two full weeks, until one day the watch started losing the time: all of sudden the hours would be wrong (like 2 or 3 hours wrong, not just minutes). Then after a few days it also started resetting (crash, then reboot...crash then reboot in a loop) continuously. I tried the usual turn-it-off-and-on-again trick, then reset procedure and finally clear user data procedure. When all that failed to work I returned the watch. Then I bought another brand-new Forerunner 235, hoping it was just a defective unit.

Unfortunately it had the same problem: as soon as it paired with the phone it would run a sync cycle, then crash and reboot. In an endless loop. I was dismayed.

So I set on a troubleshooting course that I decided to document here. As of now the issue has not been fixed yet, but I was able to establish a few facts:
  1. the problem does not seem to happen on my wife phone (an entry level Samsung on some Android 4.4.4 , whereas I have a Samsung S7, fully updated)
  2. updating the Garmin Connect app does not fix the issue, I'm on 4.7 atm
  3. updating the watch firmware to the 7.73 beta does not solve the problem
  4. resetting the watch and performing a number of procedures suggested by Garmin support (like removing all *.FIT files) did not improve the situation
  5. reinstalling the Garmin Connect app and/or removing then adding the watch again does not help
  6. suspecting it might be a smart notification problem I disabled them, but the watch kept resetting
  7. the problem is definitely related to some interaction between the Watch and the Garmin Connect app. If I turn off bluetooth (on the phone or the watch) the watch works perfectly and does not crash
I am now using the watch paired to my wife's phone but that's less than ideal.

Update June 4th 2018

A Garmin support person told me that they are aware of some problems with Samsung phones and a fix should be ready "in a few weeks". I find hard to believe there are problems with probably the largest Android manufacturer and, if the few weeks promise does not materialize, I might not be able to return the watch to Amazon.

Update June 16th 2018

Last week Garmin reached out via twitter. After gathering further information about phone and watch they have opened a technical case, so hopefully this will get resolved.

Update June 18th 2018

Samsung released Android Oreo for the S7. I just installed the update, but the problem with the Forerunner persists.

I'll update the post as the situation develops.

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