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Garmin Forerunner 955 Review

This fully featured running watch is perfect for those who want the lightest equipment for the track and trail
garmin forerunner 955 gps watch review
The Garmin Forerunner 955 out in the wild on a trail in Southwestern Colorado. This watch can do it all.
Credit: Matthew Richardson
Price:  $500 List
Manufacturer:   Garmin
By Matthew Richardson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 18, 2022
78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 13
  • Features - 20% 8.0
  • Battery Life - 20% 7.0
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8.0
  • Accuracy - 20% 8.0
  • Design - 20% 8.0

Our Verdict

If you are a runner, then the Forerunner series is for you. The Garmin Forerunner 955 is one of the lightest fully featured watches we've tested, on par with other top-of-the-line premium models. With full navigation and all of the latest health metrics and sensors, you can be confident in this watch for all your training and daily tracking. If you are an ultra-athlete, you may prefer a more rugged model with extreme battery life. Otherwise, this watch should be sufficient for all but the most serious of athletes.
REASONS TO BUY
Ultra-Lightweight
Thin profile
Good for smaller wrists
REASONS TO AVOID
Less premium materials
Potentially less durable
Tool requires straps
Editor's Note: This review was added to our lineup on November 18, 2022, to offer our opinion on the latest updates and changes from the previous Garmin Forerunner 945.

Compare to Similar Products

 
garmin forerunner 955 gps watch review
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Ultra-Lightweight, thin profile, good for smaller wristsGood battery life, comfortable, easy to use, great valueReliable, durable, excellent battery life, simple designExcellent quality, accurate, simple design, very easy to use, great feature set, very long battery lifeLow profile design, great battery life, very accurate, low cost
Cons Less premium materials, potentially less durable, tool requires strapsLacks some toolset functions, scroll wheel has unintended clicksPlastic body, straps not removable, may be less comfortable for smaller wristsBacklight isn't bright, heart rate monitor accuracy is a little offMinimal activity profiles, no navigation features, plastic construction
Bottom Line This fully featured running watch is perfect for those who want the lightest equipment for the track and trailA fully-featured GPS watch at a great price makes this one of our top recommendations for all user typesA rugged GPS watch with potentially unlimited battery life, this watch has all the features you need and nothing you don'tA well-constructed and accurate watch with a minimalistic design, excellent battery life, and all the right featuresA fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting great battery life at an incredible value
Rating Categories Garmin Forerunner 955 Coros Apex Pro Garmin Instinct 2 S... Coros Apex Coros Pace 2
Features (20%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Battery Life (20%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Ease of Use (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Accuracy (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Design (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Garmin Forerunner 955 Coros Apex Pro Garmin Instinct 2 S... Coros Apex Coros Pace 2
Watch Face Material Corning Gorilla Glass DX Sapphire glass Power glass Sapphire glass Corning glass
Bezel Fiber reinforced polymer Titanium Alloy Fiber reinforced polymer Stainless steel bezel Fiber reinforced polymer
Case Fiber-reinforced polymer Alumnium Fiber reinforced polymer Alumnium Fiber reinforced polymer
Strap Material Silicone Silicon or nylon Silicone Silicon or nylon Silicon or nylon
Tools Required to Change Band? Yes No Yes No No
Model Tested Standard Standard Solar Standard N/A
Size Tested One Size only 47mm One size only 42mm One size only
Measured Main Body Size (diameter) 46.5mm 47mm 45mm 42mm 43mm
Measured Thickness 14.4mm 13.4mm 15mm 13mm 11mm
Measured Screen Width 33mm 33mm 23mm 33mm 32mm
Measured Weight 1.7 oz 2.0 oz 1.87 oz 1.7 oz 1.2 oz
Measured Charging Time 120 min 80 min 123 min 70 min 80 min
Battery Type Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion
Measured Battery Life With GPS On 41 hours 36 hours 30 hours 24 hours 29 hours
Manufacturer-Reported Battery Life Smartwatch mode: Up to 15 days
GPS-only mode without music: Up to 42 hours
All-Systems GNSS mode plus Multi-Band with music: Up to 8.5 hours
All Systems GNSS mode plus Multi-Band without music: Up to 20 hours
Ultratrac mode: Up to 80 hours
Smartwatch mode: 30 days;
GPS mode: 40 hours;
UltraMax mode: 100 hours
Smartwatch mode: 28 days and unlimited w/ solar;
GPS: 30/48hrs
Smartwatch mode: 25 days;
Full GPS mode: 25 hours;
UltraMax GPS Mode: 80 hours
Smartwatch mode: 20 days;
GPS: 30 hours;
Ultramax mode: 60 hours
Navigation Built In? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Satellite Networks Used GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU
Maps? Yes - detailed Yes - basic No Yes - basic No
Back to Start Navigation? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Water Resistance (max depth) 50m 100m 100m 100m 50m
Music Control? Yes No Yes No No
Music Storage? Yes - 2000 songs No No No No
Daily Fitness Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Touchless Payment? Yes No Yes No No
Sleep Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blood Oxygen? Yes Yes Yes No No
Compass? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Barometric Altimeter? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Temperature Sensor? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Main Software App Garmin Connect, widgets for other features Coros App Garmin Connect, widgets for other features Coros App Coros
Can Software Cross Over to Different Software Ecosystems? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Forerunner 955 is an update to Garmin's lightest fully featured watch. The Forerunner series has long prioritized running and provides a sleek, light design with great GPS and heart rate accuracy. We are impressed with this model's features and price point and think it's a contender for those that don't want a more rugged-looking model. The battery life is substantial and should allow any athlete to feel confident that it will make it through their activity. This watch does it all, and unless you need endless battery life, this is one you should consider.

Performance Comparison


garmin forerunner 955 gps watch review - the forerunner 955 is made for running with its ultra lightweight...
The Forerunner 955 is made for running with its ultra lightweight design.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Features


Garmin continues to provide leading feature sets, and while this is less of a smartwatch than something from Apple, it still scores high on our list. We continue to be fans of what's available in this ecosystem and find everything easy to access and use without digging through endless menu systems. Full-touch screen navigation and bread crumb-mapping allow for backtracking and route planning on-the-go. You can download music from various services (mainly Amazon Music and Spotify) and connect to your Bluetooth headphones. A wide range of health metrics are also available to provide you with status updates throughout the day and predictions about your fitness and fatigue. As with all Garmin products, their IQ App allows for additional customization and features to be added from third parties.

Notable Features:

  • Heart rate monitor
  • Compass
  • Thermometer
  • Garmin Pay
  • Downloadable Music
  • Alarms
  • Several activity profiles
  • Pedometer and calories burned
  • Barometer
  • Altimeter
  • Sunrise/Sunset information
  • Breadcrumb navigation and topo maps
  • Course creation and upload options
  • Customizable watch faces

Take a look at the Garmin website to see the full scope of all the features offered.

This feature set is made for the most dedicated of athletes, and some could find it overkill if you only use your watch during activity. However, this could be a great model if you are looking for health updates throughout your day and notification and phone integration. Higher-end models won't really provide you with any more useful features, but they will increase the number of premium materials and battery life.

garmin forerunner 955 gps watch review - the garmin forerunner 955, while cheaper than the highest-end...
The Garmin Forerunner 955, while cheaper than the highest-end models, still contains the majority of the features found on more expensive devices.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Battery Life


From our testing, we received roughly the claimed 42 hours of battery life (40.5 hours total) when we weren't using services like music providers. On a 2-day backpacking trip, we tested the battery using 9 hours of full GPS and then used things like the compass and flashlight the rest of the time. When we finished the trip, we still had 75% battery life. This watch should be more than sufficient for most people, and unless you plan on a week-long+ expedition, we don't think you should be concerned about the battery life. While there is a solar version of this watch, we think the extra cost doesn't really make up a discernible benefit given little battery is restored while actively using GPS.

For daily usage, we got roughly 12 days without needing a charge, and this was with roughly 1 hour of GPS tracking each day. Garmin claims 15 days in smartwatch mode. We aren't huge fans of adding another device to our charging list, and this runtime gives us one less thing to think about. Additional battery life is available in other models, but that generally increases the price and weight. We think the Forerunner 955 is a great blend of performance and price.

Garmin's battery mode adjustment is one of our favorites because it's easy to access and visually see what will be turned on/off. This can be accessed from the tools menu or via the start of a workout. The various modes adjust many different features like GPS intervals and can save power by reducing health sensors like the heart rate monitor.

garmin forerunner 955 gps watch review - with roughly 40 hours of gps battery life, the garmin forerunner 955...
With roughly 40 hours of GPS battery life, the Garmin Forerunner 955 is great for multi-day trips or super-long ultra events.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Ease of Use


We are fans of the option to use either a touch screen or dedicated buttons on the Forerunner 955. Interacting with the device using gloves or cold hands makes these dedicated buttons even more useful. When moving fast or when you aren't looking directly at the device, the tactile touch of the button is a more sure bet than hoping to scroll the right amount or swipe just enough.

The Garmin UI used to feel overwhelming at first, but its come a long way, and we are pleased to see them continuing to offer better quick functions and fewer menu systems. The toolbar is easy to use and customizable to work best for you. These easy-to-use functions quickly access the information or setting you want to change. Most of the more complex customization, such as data screen adjustment and notifications, can now be done completely through the on-the-phone application.

The Garmin IQ app, which allows you to add third party applications to your watch like Spotify and various data screens, could use some improvements. This app feels a bit dated and is nowhere near the likes of Apple. However, you probably won't find yourself using this very often. Our biggest complaint with the Garmin experience is the Connect app. This app feels dated and overly complicated — most of your stats are either buried under menus or found on overwhelming data pages. The watch experience is great, but visualizing health metrics is less ideal than with a Coros or Apple product. For our everyday usage, we use Strava to view our GPS activities and sync our Garmin Health data with Apple Health. This gives us the best of all the platforms and devices.

garmin forerunner 955 gps watch review - the navigation on the forerunner 955 is slightly less useful than on...
The navigation on the Forerunner 955 is slightly less useful than on the Garmin Fenix 7, Apple Watch Ultra, or Coros Vertix 2 but it's adequate.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Accuracy


As with all optical sensors, fit is paramount. The design of the 955 fit our wrist perfectly, so we received excellent heart rate accuracy. We compared the readings on this watch to other leading accuracy watches and found similar heart rate readings while resting and during activity (roughly +/- 3bm). Equipped with Dual Frequency GPS, this watch performed great when we tested it in some deep canyons in Utah. We found this accuracy to be on par with other top models in our lineup. During more standard running, the 955 was within .02 miles of our other top accuracy models, and we could confidently trust this watch to provide unquestionable accuracy through a wide range of conditions. We never experienced the satellites dropping, even through dense foliage or around buildings.

Other sensors are more difficult to test, such as the sleep stats, oxygen sensor, and more running-specific metrics such as oscillation and ground contact time. After looking at the data, it appears to be precise and consistent; there were no drops in data or gaps which would point to inaccuracies. We have been impressed with Garmin and its industry-leading accuracy thus far, so we have no reason to question some of these more obscure metrics. The Forerunner 955 is a standout for its accuracy and continues to be a model we use to compare to new devices we are testing.

garmin forerunner 955 gps watch review - similar health sensors are found on the garmin forerunner 955 and...
Similar health sensors are found on the Garmin Forerunner 955 and the Garmin Fenix 7.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Design


Our previous love for this design continues due to its light but solid construction. The new touch screen has a nice backlight and is easy to read in various sun conditions. This watch is not the brightest, but it's still crisp and clear. The tool-required watch straps are comfortable and provide a snug but flexible fit, which is great for cinching it down tighter to prevent movement. We think Garmin has the best-looking data screens, the metrics are clear and easy to read, and the customization is very flexible. When compared to Coros, we also think the Forerunner models have better watch faces. Additionally, there are other third-party faces on the Garmin IQ app.

In terms of the physical design, the Forerunner 955 is light and thin. This watch is less flashy and doesn't stand out as much as the competition. This is largely due to the lack of metal materials like titanium. We use our GPS watch as a dedicated wristwatch too, so we'd spend a bit extra to get a watch with a bit more style. Regardless, the 955 is ultra-light, and if this style calls to you, then we really don't have any complaints. We think this is perfect for people with smaller wrists or those who prefer the more subtle and lightweight design.

garmin forerunner 955 gps watch review - we think this updated design is better than the previous version...
We think this updated design is better than the previous version. It's still super lightweight but looks a bit more premium and has some harder edges which make the model more defined for everyday usage.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Should You Buy the Garmin Forerunner 955?


If the 955 is in your price range and you like the design, you should absolutely consider purchasing it. While you could spend more, you are largely just buying more premium materials and a better battery. The battery on this model is more than sufficient for most people, so it's hard to argue you need anything more. We think this decision should come down to your personal style. Those who often use their watch on the trail or in the backcountry may prefer something a bit more rugged, but this is without a doubt one of the best models on the market today.

garmin forerunner 955 gps watch review - the garmin forerunner 955 is made for all types of runners. we...
The Garmin Forerunner 955 is made for all types of runners. We prefer a more rugged-looking watch but those that desire a thin profile may love this watch.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

What Other GPS Watches Should You Consider?


If you want our favorite model, go with the Garmin Fenix 7. This watch provides the best blend of athletic and smartwatch features we have tested. If you are looking for a more dedicated smartwatch and a super elegant design, we'd recommend the Apple Watch Ultra. And finally, if you are on a tighter budget but still want some excellent features and amazing battery life, we'd recommend the Coros Apex Pro.

Matthew Richardson
 
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