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Garmin HRM-Pro Plus review: A design update, same price

Pro

  • Redesigned Battery Access Comfort Strap Long Battery Life Indoor Speed/Distance Running Dynamics Support Running Power Source Bluetooth and ANT+ Connectivity

The Garmin HRM-Pro heart rate monitor was released in 2020 and it works as a very capable chest strap. If you bought one in 2020, you may have replaced the battery once or twice and experienced the inconvenience of the small screws on the battery access door. Battery compartment access is the only significant design change on the HRM-Pro Plus, a software improvement also available on the HRM-Pro.

While we usually look for significant improvements in new products, there are no real faults with the HRM-Pro other than the terrible battery access design. It is perfectly acceptable to create a new product that improves something and acts as the default product for that category, and with the same price point everyone should now buy the HRM-Pro Plus instead of the HRM-Pro. However, if you already have an HRM-Pro there’s no reason to upgrade to a new heart rate monitor until your existing model fails.

Also: 5 Best Garmin Watch Models: Which One Is Right For You?

In the early days of GPS watches, I wore a chest strap because wrist-based heart rate monitoring wasn’t very accurate. After a while, I got tired of the chest straps and found that the wrist-based monitoring was good enough for my needs. Garmin’s heart rate monitors have been working as a data source for running dynamics, and now with 2022 Garmin watches, I’m back to working with a chest strap as a data source for running power. I am now an active Hydrow user so need a chest strap to get the most accurate workout experience.

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The HRM-Pro (top) and HRM-Pro Plus (bottom) have different battery compartment access panels

Matthew Miller / ZDNet

Along with the HRM-Pro, there are four screws that need to be removed to replace the coin cell battery in the monitor, and an O-ring that you need to make sure is properly positioned to maintain the 5ATM water resistance. On the HRM-Pro Plus, you unscrew the rear battery cover to remove the cover and replace the battery. There is also a small tab under the battery so you can easily pull it up and remove the battery. This is a nice touch as I often have to use a screwdriver or other pry tool to pry coin cell batteries out of things. Do not remove the white battery accessory from the pod. There is the same silicone cover over the battery compartment, but it is now white instead of yellow.

The strap itself is made of the same flexible material as the HRM-Pro, including a clasp backing piece that keeps the strap contact from running against your skin. There are two contact areas on the inside of the band. The band length is also adjustable and like the HRM-Pro, I have the maximum length to fit around my chest. The strap is very comfortable for extended periods of wear and does not shift around when properly secured.

garmin-hrm-pro-plus-1

Do not remove the white tab as it will help you remove the battery

Matthew Miller / ZDNet

The HRM-Pro Plus provides heart rate data via ANT+ and Bluetooth so it works with your Garmin watch, smartphone apps, compatible equipment at the gym, and other GPS or smartwatches. Swimmers will appreciate the 5ATM water resistance and heart rate data storage on the band that syncs to your device, but the band may slip down because it’s not optimized for swimming in all conditions. If you take your Garmin device out for team sports and other activities, the HRM-Pro Plus can be worn and then synced to your Garmin device to track steps, intensity minutes and more.

Also: Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar review: Garmin’s most powerful watch built for runners

One software improvement on the HRM-Pro Plus is the ability for the heart rate monitor to track indoor run speed and distance, so Garmin can help track these metrics while you’re on the treadmill. This software improvement is now available on the 2020 HRM-Pro via a software update so the HRM-Pro will have the same software as the HRM-Pro Plus at no additional cost to owners.

With newer Garmin watches like the Forerunner 955 Solar, running power support is now native to the watch, so when you pair the Forerunner to the watch then running power and running dynamics (stride length, run cadence, vertical ratio and ground contact time) will appear on the watch and in your running summary report. Running power support is also provided for older Garmin watches that do not have native running power support via ConnectIQ apps.

To fully understand the new indoor running support features of the HRM-Pro Plus and the updated HRM-Pro I only run outdoors, I recommend you check out the extensive review on the DC Rainmaker website.

The Garmin HRM-Pro Plus is available now for $129.99, the same price as the HRM-Pro. It offers solid and reliable heart rate monitoring with deep integration into the Garmin ecosystem. The coin cell battery will last you about a year and Garmin actively updates the strap with the latest support and features.

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