If you’re looking at getting your first Garmin, or planning on trying a different Garmin to the one you’re currently wearing, the Forerunner series is an excellent place to look.
In this article, we’re comparing two great options: the Garmin Forerunner 55 vs Forerunner 245.
Which one is right for you? Check out the details below to help you decide!
The Garmin Forerunner 55 is one of the latest releases, having come out in 2021. Although it’s one of the newest Garmins, it’s still an entry-level watch, offering basic metrics and an easy-to-use GPS.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 was released in 2019, so it’s still fairly new. It’s a little more advanced than the 55 and better suited to runners who want a few more metrics to track.
It’s important to note that the 245 comes in a standard version and a Music version. For the purpose of this comparison, we’re sticking to the standard version.
But if you are interested in the Music version, it’s nearly identical (you know, except for the music part). The main difference is price (more expensive) and battery (worse when playing music).
Size and Display
The Garmin Forerunner 245 is a tiny bit bigger than the 55, but it’s not even noticeable.
For all intents and purposes, the two watches are the same size, with the 245 being 42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2mm, and the 55 being 42 x 42 x 11.6mm.
Both watches have a color display. The Forerunner 245’s display is the bigger of the two, but only by very little, with a screen of 1.2 inches as opposed to the 1.04-inch screen of the 55.
Similarly, the resolution of the 245 is slightly better than the 55, but not by a hugely significant number. The 245’s screen is 240 x 240 pixels, while the 55’s is 208 x 208.
Both watches’ displays are sunlight-visible, making it easy to see your screen in any weather or brightness. They also have the same size straps, industry-standard 20mm.
The Forerunner 55, being a less feature-rich watch, has a longer-lasting battery life than the 245.
In normal smartwatch mode, you can get up to 2 weeks of use out of the Forerunner 55 before needing to charge it again. When used in GPS mode, it can last for up to 20 hours at a time.
The 245 lasts about a week (7 days) in normal mode. However, it has a better GPS battery than the 55, with a maximum battery life of 24 hours.
The Forerunner 245 is the more robust of the two, featuring a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screen in comparison to the 55, which simply uses chemically-strengthened glass.
Heart Rate Monitor
Both of these watches have a wrist-based heart rate monitor that measures second-by-second. It provides your daily resting heart rate, as well as alerts you for both unusually high and unusually low heart rates.
One of the best features of the HRM is that it continues tracking even when it’s underwater, making these watches ideal for swimmers or triathletes.
Both the 55 and the 245 have GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo sensors. They also both have an accelerometer built-in. But there are some slight differences that may or may not be significant for you.
The 245 features a compass, a pulse ox (blood oxygen saturation measurement), and a thermometer (requires a tempe sensor).
The 55 has none of those, although interestingly, it does have a sensor that measures your respiration rate.
Maps and Navigation
When it comes to navigation, the Forerunner 245 definitely comes out on top. It features point-to-point navigation, breadcrumb navigation with real-time info for accuracy, a back-to-start feature (TracBack), UltraTrac mode, distance to destination, and GPS coordinates.
You won’t be able to use maps on the watch, though, unless you download an app that allows you to do so.
Unfortunately, the 55 has practically no navigation features at all. If you need nav for your activities, this won’t be the watch for you.
Both watches have a bunch of daily activity tracking features, which are pretty standard across smartwatches. These include:
- A step counter (with auto step goal)
- Calories burned
- Distance traveled
- Intensity minutes
- Move bar reminder
- Garmin TrueUp
- Garmin MoveIQ
Both watches have features specific to running, cycling, and swimming. However, the 245 is somewhat more feature-rich.
The 55 and 245 both have profiles for road running, treadmill running, indoor and outdoor track running, and virtual running. Trail running is also available on the 245.
Both monitor cadence and can be used with running pods. They also have built-in run workouts, a race predictor, and PacePro pacing strategies.
However, the 245 also offers running dynamics, vertical oscillation, vertical ratio, ground contact time, running symmetry, performance condition, and real-time stride length.
Be aware that you’ll need to invest in a separate accessory (the Running Pod) to measure these, though!
You can choose from indoor or outdoor biking on both watches. If you have the appropriate sensors, you’ll get speed and cadence metrics, and both devices also offer an alarm when you reach your set goals for the workout.
The 245 also has Courses and Race an Activity. It’s also compatible with a variety of Varia accessories, including Vision, radar, and lights.
The pool swimming features are quite good on both the 55 and the 245, however, neither watch offers open water swimming as an option.
You’ll be able to track your lengths, total distance, pace, strokes, calories burned, and SWOLF. There’s also built-in stroke detection, drill logging, a reset timer, and an auto rest function.
The 55 has a countdown start timer and alerts for time and distance that you can set as you wish. These don’t feature on the 245, but it has built-in pool workouts and can be used in the pool with an external HRM.
The 245 can also connect to the Garmin Connect Challenges app. It also features cardio and strength workout activity profiles, with an automatic rep counter.
The 55 has outdoor activity options for area calculation, hunting and fishing calendar, and a sun and moon calendar. All of these can be accessed via the Garmin Connect app.
Both watches can also use the optional Toe-to-Toe Challenges app.
The Forerunner 245 is the more robust of the two watches when it comes to training features. But first, let’s cover the overlapping features that come on both watches.
- Heart rate zones
- Recovery time
- Automatic max HR
- GPS speed
- GPS distance
- Custom data displays
- Customized activity profiles
- Interval training
- Automatic pause
- Advanced workouts
- Auto and manual lap
- Downloadable training plans
- VO2 max
- Customizable lap alerts
- Audio prompts
Now for the extra features on the 245. It offers training status, which uses your training history and fitness level to give you insight into how effective your training session is.
Similar to this is training load, which is your total training load over the past 7 days. Training effect and aerobic training effect are also available on the 245.
Virtual Partner, Race an Activity, and Course Guidance are other features you won’t find on the 55. You also get improved recovery time, which is available on the 55 in a limited capacity.
What the 55 does have that the 245 doesn’t is respiratory rate, which only features during yoga and breathwork activities.
Both watches keep consistent track of your heart rate and give you alerts if it gets dangerously high or low.
They both feature pretty much the same health monitoring features, so if you’re looking for these kinds of features on a watch, both are good options.
The biggest difference is that the 55 has respiratory rate and relaxation reminders, which the 245 doesn’t, while the 245 measures blood oxygen saturation, which the 55 doesn’t.
Both measure Fitness Age and Garmin’s Body Battery Energy Monitor. All-day stress monitoring and a relaxation breathing timer also feature on both.
Both the 55 and the 245 have advanced sleep tracking, hydration tracking and measurement in the app, and women’s health features (onboard for the 55 and in-app for the 245).
Both watches use 20mm quick-release bands, which can be used interchangeably with any others that fit those criteria. They both come standard with silicone straps, although there may be nylon bands available.
They’re also both compatible with Garmin heart rate monitor straps, speed, cadence, and temperature sensors. Sensors from other brands are generally compatible, but it’s wise to double-check before investing in something that’s not a Garmin.
As well as the many smartwatch features we’ve mentioned, both watches also feature everyday functions for convenience. These include:
- Bluetooth & ANT+ connectivity
- Downloadable watch faces & apps
- Respond to call with text (on Android)
- Smart notifications
- Find My Phone
- Find My Watch
- Control phone music
- Weather updates
They’re also both waterproof to 5 meters, which means you should be able to wear it through the shower, in rainy weather, and for a swim.
Safety & Tracking
Safety features are always a necessity on a watch, and these two don’t disappoint. They both feature Garmin’s LiveTrack, Incident Detection on particular activities, and Garmin Assistance.
For Android users, the watches both also offer Live Event Sharing, which helps your loved ones stay up to date with what’s going on with you in real-time.
If you’re new to running and you’re still getting the hang of metrics and stats, the Garmin Forerunner 55 is ideal. Although it’s a new model, released in 2021, it’s still a budget watch and has fewer features.
That doesn’t mean it’s not a great watch. It has plenty of activity profiles for avid runners, cyclists, swimmers, and of course, triathletes.
But if you’re looking for something to track your every move and monitor your stats, the Forerunner 245 would be the better choice.
It’s a feature-packed watch that’s ideal for runners who specifically want to monitor their metrics, but don’t want to shell out for one of the higher-end models.
One last thing to pay attention to – make sure that when you buy either watch, you’re getting the Rest-of-World version and not the Asia-Pacific version, unless you specifically want the alternate version.