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Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 965: Which one should you buy?

Find out about the most expensive Forerunner line’s latest makeover and where sacrifices may have been made.
By

Published onMarch 5, 2024

garmin forerunner 965 band closure
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

When Garmin launched the Forerunner 955, we happily dubbed it the king of the road. Less than a year later, Garmin launched the Forerunner 965, a fitness tracker with even more on board, including a more modern face. Shoppers finally got the chance to strap on a fantastic running watch with a vibrant AMOLED display. However, that’s not to say the 955 isn’t still a great pick. Both Garmin devices have a lot of core features in common. If you find yourself debating which is right for you, read our Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 965 to find out what each one brings to the table.

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 965: At a glance

  • Both devices offer fantastic fitness tracking with reliable sensors and many of the top Garmin training tools available.
  • The Garmin Forerunner 955 features a 64-color MIP display which the 965 updates to a full-color AMOLED display.
  • The Forerunner 955 is available in both a standard and a solar model. The Forerunner 965 is only available in a single, nonsolar model.
  • The older lineup boasts more impressive battery specs, especially compared to the 965 with its always-on display enabled.
  • The devices share the same accurate heart rate sensors and core fitness tracking experience.

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 965: Specs

Garmin Forerunner 955Garmin Forerunner 955 SolarGarmin Forerunner 965
Display
Garmin Forerunner 955
1.3-inch MIP
260 x 260 resolution
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
1.3-inch MIP
260 x 260 resolution
Garmin Forerunner 965
1.4-inch AMOLED, optional always-on
454 x 454 resolution
Dimensions and weight
Garmin Forerunner 955
46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4mm
52g w/o strap

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4mm
53g w/o strap

Garmin Forerunner 965
46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4mm
53g w/o strap

Colors and materials
Garmin Forerunner 955
Corning Gorilla Glass DX display
Fiber-reinforced polymer bezel
Silicone strap
Black or Whitestone
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
Corning Gorilla Glass DX display
Fiber-reinforced polymer bezel
Silicone strap
Black or Whitestone
Garmin Forerunner 965
Corning Gorilla Glass 3 DX display
Titanium bezel
Silicone strap
Black or Whitestone
Battery
Garmin Forerunner 955
Up to 15 days in smartwatch mode
Up to 42 hours in GPS mode without music
Up to 8.5 hours in all-systems GNSS mode with music
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
Up to 20 days with solar
Up to 49 hours with solar
Up to 8.5 hours in all-systems GNSS mode with music
Garmin Forerunner 965
Up to 23 days in smartwatch mode
Up to 31 hours in GPS mode without music
Up to 10.5 hours in GPS-only GNSS mode with music
Sensors
Garmin Forerunner 955
GPS
GLONASS
GALILEO
Multi-Frequency Positioning
SatIQ Technology
Garmin Elevate
Barometric Altimeter
Compass
Gyroscope
Accelerometer
Thermometer
Pulse Ox Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
GPS
GLONASS
GALILEO
Multi-Frequency Positioning
SatIQ Technology
Garmin Elevate
Barometric Altimeter
Compass
Gyroscope
Accelerometer
Thermometer
Pulse Ox Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor
Garmin Forerunner 965
GPS
GLONASS
GALILEO
Multi-Frequency Positioning
SatIQ Technology
Garmin Elevate
Barometric Altimeter
Compass
Gyroscope
Accelerometer
Thermometer
Ambient Light Sensor
Pulse Ox Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor
Durability
Garmin Forerunner 955
5ATM
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
5ATM
Garmin Forerunner 965
5ATM
Connectivity
Garmin Forerunner 955
NFC
Bluetooth
ANT+
Wi-Fi
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
NFC
Bluetooth
ANT+
Wi-Fi
Garmin Forerunner 965
NFC
Bluetooth
ANT+
Wi-Fi
Compatibility
Garmin Forerunner 955
Android and iOS
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
Android and iOS
Garmin Forerunner 965
Android and iOS
Memory
Garmin Forerunner 955
32GB
Up to 2,000 songs
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
32GB
Up to 2,000 songs
Garmin Forerunner 965
32GB
Up to 2,000 songs

Launched in June 2022, the Forerunner 955 elevated the lineup with an upgraded heart rate sensor, a bevy of new activity modes and smartwatch features, and a second model for solar-enhanced battery life. In fact, in our Forerunner 955 review, we called it the best GPS watch on the market. Despite our satisfaction, Garmin dropped the Forerunner 965 less than a year later, giving the already great lineup a colorful facelift.

The AMOLED display of the Forerunner 965 is the device’s most striking upgrade. Bumped up from 1.3 to 1.4 inches, the touchscreen is crisp and vibrant and brings a premium feel to the entire user experience. It’s also coupled with a titanium bezel for a second, subtler note of luxury. While the MIP display on the 955 is plenty readable, the AMOLED version aligns the 965 with the market’s most popular wearables, such as the Apple Watch. During our Forerunner 965 review, we found map features, in particular, abundantly more convenient to use on the upgraded screen.

The showstopping feature distinguishing Garmin's 965 from the older 955 is its beautiful, full-color AMOLED display.

Meanwhile, the first sacrifice made to accommodate the line’s new look is, of course, battery life. For starters, the Forerunner 965 does not offer a solar model, which we loved in the previous generation. Regarding battery life during GPS workouts, the 965  can’t match the specs offered by the 955’s solar model.

That said, the 965’s specs are still quite good. Sure, the device will only last about a week with always-on enabled. Garmin also lists it at 31 hours in GPS mode, compared to the 955 and 955 Solar at 42 and 49 hours, respectively. However, in smartwatch mode without always-on enabled, our reviewer was able to make multiple weeks on a single charge, including tracking GPS workouts daily. In other words, it still offers stellar battery life compared to many other AMOLED-touting devices.

Beyond the screen, a Forerunner 955 vs 965 comparison shows a lot of similarities. Both devices offer 32GB of onboard storage to download music and maps — including golf courses. Both also feature an NFC chip for wireless payments through Garmin Pay. Even the sensors are largely identical, including multi-band GNSS, SatIQ technology, and Garmin’s Elevate heart rate sensor. As is often the case on Garmin’s devices, we found heart rate data and GPS tracking to be highly accurate on both generations.

Garmin also consistently rolls new software features back to older devices, so the fitness tracking and training features available on both watches are also the same. These include the company’s advanced metrics, such as Training Readiness and Body Battery, as well as fantastic onboard mapping and navigation tools. Again, we’d just have to admit the UI  and display are much easier on the eyes in the newest device.

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 965: Price

Garmin Forerunner 955: $499 / £479 / €549
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar: $599 / £549 / €649

Garmin Forerunner 965: $599 / £599 / €649

Pricing for the Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 965 does little to level the playing field. The Garmin Forerunner 955 originally launched at $499. When a new generation lands, older devices tend to go on sale, so it’s possible you can find the device for less if you are patient. That said, even without a sale, that’s $100 less than the newest model.

We wouldn’t expect an AMOLED display to arrive without a price hike, and $100 dollars doesn’t seem terrible compared to other price bumps we’ve seen in the current market. Meanwhile, the Forerunner 955 Solar launched at $599, or the same price as the Forerunner 965. That tightens the race as we’d recommend the Solar model to shoppers considering the 955 series.

If you already own a Forerunner 955 and are thinking about upgrading, your decision may be a little harder. Replacing a ~$500 device after just one year feels like an aggressive play, especially when the new model offers most of the same tools you already have on your wrist. If style is important to you, though, and you prefer the look and feel of an AMOLED display, the Forerunner 965 is certainly not a bad buy.

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 965: Which should you buy?

The good news is it’s hard to go wrong when comparing the Forerunner 955 vs 965. Both generations offer a reliable, feature-packed device that’s likely to last you many training sessions. Overall, the core experience users get with either one is largely identical, as are the device’s sensor packages. If the Forerunner 965 had upgraded to the heart rate sensor found on the Epix Pro, we might be more apt to suggest the newer model. That sensor supports FDA-approved ECG monitoring capabilities.

One differentiator is how often you must take your watch off to charge up. The best battery life will be found on the Forerunner 955 Solar edition, so the answer is simple if that’s your top priority. If you are happy with anything that lets you charge weekly rather than daily, battery life shouldn’t be a problem with any of these watches.

Which would you buy: The Garmin Forerunner 955, 955 Solar or 965?

482 votes

With that, we’d say the choice boils down to which display you prefer. As our reviewer remarked, the Garmin Forerunner 965 is eye-catching but not necessarily groundbreaking. Most of its gusto comes from the ease it brings to using maps and reading your on-screen data. We love a good AMOLED display, especially when, in our opinion, it doesn’t take too heavy a toll on battery life. On the other hand, we also didn’t mind the 955’s older display, which we always found plenty easy to see. If you can find a 955 Solar on sale, it might well be worth saving your cash.

Garmin Forerunner 955Garmin Forerunner 955
AA Editors Choice
Garmin Forerunner 955
Countless activity types • NFC support for Garmin Pay • Upgraded heart rate sensor
MSRP: $499.00
A premium GPS watch delivering top features for dedicated runners
The Garmin Forerunner 955 is a feature-loaded GPS watch with tons of training tools, improved sensors, onboard music storage, and Garmin Pay support. You can even download running routes directly onto the watch to view on its 1.3-inch touchscreen display. If you want a longer lasting battery life, opt for the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar edition.
Garmin Forerunner 955 SolarGarmin Forerunner 955 Solar
AA Editors Choice
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
Excellent solar-enhanced battery life • Countless activity types • Upgraded heart rate sensor
MSRP: $599.99
An excellent GPS watch for athletes who want detailed data
The Garmin Forerunner 955 is a feature-packed running companion with a highly reliable GPS and heart rate monitor, tons of activity tracking modes, and solar-enhanced battery life. The device also packs NFC support and storage for music so you can hit the road without loading your pockets.
Garmin Forerunner 965Garmin Forerunner 965
AA Editors Choice
Garmin Forerunner 965
Crisp OLED display • Upgraded titanium bezel • In-depth mapping options
MSRP: $599.99
Garmin's elite running watch
The Forerunner 965 is one of Garmin's best wearables for runners. This smartwatch is equipped with a bright and colorful AMOLED display, a rich set of sensors, modes, and features, and lightweight titanium parts.

FAQs

Both the Forerunner 955 and 965 feature a water resistance rating of 5ATM.

The Garmin Forerunner 955 and 965 both support music storage. However, you will need to pair the devices with Bluetooth headphones to listen.

You can shower with both the Forerunner 955 and 965, though exposure to soaps and shampoos can be damaging, so be sure to rinse your device thoroughly.

As neither the Forerunner 955 nor 965 pack a speaker or a microphone, the devices cannot support on-wrist phone calls.

Yes! On both the Forerunner 955 and 965 devices, you can automatically sync the Strava Routes you create or start on your Garmin device.

Both the Forerunner 955 and 965 will detect and track your sleep with impressive accuracy.

Yes, both the Forerunner 955 and 965 support Garmin Pay.