Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Forerunner 265 – Which Watch Is Right for You?

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Garmin is the biggest name in running and GPS watches. They have millions of fans across the globe, so they must be doing something right!

If you’re in the market for a new watch, consider Garmin’s mid-level running watches—the Garmin Forerunner 255 vs. Forerunner 265.

The 265 was released 9 months after the 255, which may cause you to wonder if the 255 had something wrong with it (it doesn’t). But with a $100 price increase, it’s worth comparing the two to see which would suit you best.

Here’s our Garmin Forerunner 255 vs. Forerunner 265 review—by the end of it, you should have a better idea of which of the two watches will be the one for you.

Summary

Both watches are great choices if you’re looking for a mid-tier watch that’ll give you plenty of features without unnecessary functions.

Garmin Forerunner 255

The Forerunner 255 was released to the public in June 2022. It instantly became a best-seller, thanks to its amazing improvements over its predecessor. You can buy this watch in a 46 mm or a 41 mm case.

It contains several excellent Garmin-specific features on the lifestyle tracking and the exercise side. This watch was hugely popular for its value for money—it packs a lot of fantastic stuff into a surprisingly affordable package.

Garmin Forerunner 265

The Forerunner 265 came out in March 2023. Not long after the 255! The main upgrade on this watch is a fancy new AMOLED display, and it comes in either 46 mm or 42 mm—a 1 mm difference from the previous version.

It’s got a few feature upgrades as well as the screen. But with an increased price, it’s really up to you whether it’s worthwhile.

Size and Display

The 255 and 265 look very similar. In terms of size, both come with a 46 mm case as the standard size. Both also have a smaller size—typically known as the “S”—which differs. The screen is the biggest upgrade to the 265.

Garmin Forerunner 255

The 255’s S model comes in a 41 mm case. As for the screen, it’s a color MIP display, with a resolution of 260 x 260 pixels on the regular watch and 218 x 218 on the S.
There’s also no touchscreen capability, which isn’t technically an issue but may be missed if you’re coming from a watch with a touchscreen.

Garmin Forerunner 265

For the 265, it’s been increased to 42 mm in size. The bright AMOLED screen is a huge improvement, with a resolution of 416 x 416 on the 1.3-inch screen—even the S has a better resolution than the regular 255, at 360 x 360 pixels on a 1.1-inch screen. Interestingly, this is the same screen on the more premium Forerunner 965.

The 265 also features a touchscreen, which is nice to have. It’s automatically paused during a workout, so there’s no chance of accidentally stopping recording mid-workout.

Battery

Despite having a brighter screen, the 265’s battery life is fairly on-par with the 255’s.

Garmin Forerunner 255

In smartwatch mode, you can expect 14 days of use out of the 255 before needing to charge it again. If you’re using the GPS on its own, you can get around 30 hours of battery life. Add music, and your battery will last around 6 ½ hours.

The S has a smaller battery but lasts 12 days in regular smartwatch mode, 26 hours with GPS only, and 5.5 hours when you’re playing music.

Garmin Forerunner 265

Surprisingly, given its beautiful AMOLED screen, the 265 has a battery life of about 13 days in smartwatch mode—just one day less than the 255. In GPS mode, you can get 20 hours of use, and with music, 7 hours.

As for the S model, you can get 15 days of smartwatch mode battery, 24 hours in GPS mode, and 7 hours in GPS + music mode. Despite having a smaller battery, it actually offers more battery life than the bigger model, as the larger AMOLED screen wears the battery down faster.

Hardware

The appearance of the two watches is practically the same—a round face with three buttons on the left-hand side and two buttons on the right side. The top-right button is slightly bigger on the 265—possibly the only way to tell them apart at first glance.

Both watches are fiber-reinforced polymer with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 over the display. The 265 comes in slightly more colors than the 255.

Heart Rate Monitor

Both watches feature Garmin’s latest, greatest ELEVATE Gen 4 heart rate sensor. This is their most technologically-advanced HR sensor to date and the most accurate.

Sensors

In addition to the heart rate monitor, both the 255 and 265 have sensors to monitor your heart rate and blood oxygen levels, give you accurate pace, distance, and direction data, as well as measuring temperature and elevation.

The 265 also has an ambient light sensor to auto-adjust the display’s brightness.

Maps and Navigation

Both watches feature multi-frequency GPS systems—GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and SatIQ. This means both of them offer accurate GPS even out in the wild!

Activities

The Garmin Forerunner 255 featured multisport modes for the first time in the range—something usually reserved for Garmin’s fancier offerings.

The 255 and the 265 feature several sports modes that can track everything from running to strength workouts. Whether you’re exercising in the gym, on an exercise machine, or doing some sort of free exercise, it can track it. Both also have on-screen workouts and muscle maps.

Detailed running dynamics, cycling, swimming, and outdoor recreation profiles also exist. Both watches also have a kids’ Toe-to-Toe Challenges app.

Training Aids

While the biggest update to the 265 is the screen, it comes with another much-appreciated update, this time in the training aids department. Unlike the 255, it features Garmin’s Training Readiness score—an easy-to-understand measure of your body’s readiness for a workout.

Another nice feature of the 265 is on-screen Running Dynamics, which eliminates the need for an external sensor, which the 255 needs. Aside from that, both feature the usual training aids, running data, and built-in workouts.

Health Monitoring

Both watches feature the same health tracking and monitoring functions. They feature trackers to monitor heart rate and breathing, as well as give you insight into your sleep quality and quantity.

Garmin’s classic Body Battery indicates how recovered you are overnight and how ready you are for exercise. For the ladies, you can also find women’s health tracking in the Garmin Connect app.

Music

While the 255 Music and 255 S Music feature music capabilities, they come with a higher price tag than regular non-music watches. They have about 4GB of internal memory, holding around 500 songs.

The 265 has music capabilities built in, supporting Amazon Music, Spotify, and Deezer. It features 8GB of memory, holding around 1,000 songs.

Accessories

Both the FR255 and the FR265 use 22 mm Quick Release watch bands. They’re also both compatible with Garmin’s multiple heart rate monitors. You can also link them up with a number of other running and cycling-related Garmin accessories.

Other Features

The FR255 and FR265 both feature Garmin Pay, which is extremely handy for using on-the-go so you don’t have to carry cash or cards. You can use both Find My Watch and Find My Phone features.

Something that’s also much appreciated on Garmin watches is the safety features. You can share your live location with others so that if something does happen on a run, they can find you easily.

Incident Detection also means if there’s a significant change in your pace—or a very sudden stop—the watch assumes an incident has happened and sends an alert to a specified contact. This is extremely handy in the case of accidents or medical emergencies during a run.

Summary

It’s hard to pick a favorite between the Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Forerunner 265! Both are excellent choices, and there’s not that much difference between the two.

It comes down to personal preference and which features mean more to you. If battery life is your most important aspect, then the 255 is the better choice.

On the other hand, if the screen is really important to you, the 265 comes out on top. However, there is a happy medium here—the Forerunner 265S has better battery life than the 255 but still sports a lovely AMOLED screen, not much smaller than the regular 265.

In terms of price, the FR255 costs about $100 less, so if budget is your biggest consideration, that could be the deciding factor.

Either way, both watches are excellent value for money and worth buying!

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.