Garmin Forerunner 955 Review
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Garmin Forerunner 955
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|Pros||Ultra-lightweight, thin profile, good for smaller wrists||Reliable, durable, excellent battery life, simple design||Great design, responsive interface, inexpensive||Low profile design, great battery life, very accurate, low cost||Simple, inexpensive, lightweight|
|Cons||Less premium materials, potentially less durable, tool requires straps||Plastic body, fixed band less comfortable (hinge band sold separately), may be less comfortable for smaller wrists||Minimal navigation, shorter battery life, lack of tool widgets||Minimal activity profiles, no navigation features, plastic construction||Lacks premium health stats, shorter battery life|
|Bottom Line||This fully featured running watch is perfect for those who want the lightest equipment for the track and trail||A rugged GPS watch with potentially unlimited battery life, this watch has all the features you need and nothing you don't||A premium-looking watch with loads of features and health metrics for a great price||A fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting great battery life at an incredible value||A basic GPS watch that will be perfect for those looking to track their activities without the advanced features of premium models or extended battery life|
|Rating Categories||Garmin Forerunner 955||Garmin Instinct 2 S...||Polar Vantage M2||Coros Pace 2||Garmin Forerunner 55|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|Ease of Use (20%)|
|Specs||Garmin Forerunner 955||Garmin Instinct 2 S...||Polar Vantage M2||Coros Pace 2||Garmin Forerunner 55|
|Watch Face Material||Corning Gorilla Glass DX||Power glass||Hard-coated PMMA laminated lens||Corning glass||Chemically strengthened glass|
|Bezel||Fiber reinforced polymer||Fiber reinforced polymer||Stainless steel||Fiber reinforced polymer||Stainless steel|
|Case||Fiber-reinforced polymer||Fiber reinforced polymer||Glass fibre reinforced polyamide||Fiber reinforced polymer||Glass fibre reinforced polyamide|
|Strap Material||Silicone||Silicone||Silicone||Silicon or nylon||Silicone|
|Tools Required to Change Band?||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Size Tested||One Size only||One size only||One size only||One size only||One size only|
|Measured Main Body Size (diameter)||46.5mm||45mm||46mm||43mm||42mm|
|Measured Screen Width||33mm||23mm||30mm||32mm||26.5mm|
|Measured Weight||1.7 oz||1.87 oz||1.55 oz||1.2 oz||1.31 oz|
|Measured Charging Time||120 min||123 min||78 min||80 min||111 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||30 hours||38 hours||29 hours||19 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: 28 days and unlimited w/ solar;
|GPS: 40 hours||Smartwatch mode: 20 days;
GPS: 30 hours;
Ultramax mode: 60 hours
|Smartwatch mode: 2 weeks;
GPS: 20 hours
|Navigation Built In?||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Satellite Networks Used||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO||GPS, GLONASS||GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO|
|Maps?||Yes - detailed||No||No||No||No|
|Back to Start Navigation?||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Water Resistance (max depth)||50m||100m||30m||50m||50m|
|Music Storage?||Yes - 2000 songs||No||No||No||No|
|Daily Fitness Tracking?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Main Software App||Garmin Connect, widgets for other features||Garmin Connect, widgets for other features||Polar Flow||Coros||Garmin Connect, widgets for other features|
|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.
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.
- Heart rate monitor
- Garmin Pay
- Downloadable Music
- Several activity profiles
- Pedometer and calories burned
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 a high value choice when it comes to performance and price.
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, though it will cost you more. If you are looking for a more dedicated smartwatch and a super elegant design, we'd recommend the Apple Watch Ultra. Lastly, if you are on a tighter budget but still want some excellent features and amazing battery life, we'd recommend the Coros Pace 2 or Coros Apex 2.
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