Garmin Forerunner 955 vs fenix 7 – Which Watch Is Right for You?

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Looking for a new running watch? Not sure which one to get? If you’re a Garmin fan, you may be considering a few different options.

One of the things we see a lot is runners struggling to choose between the Garmin Forerunner 955 vs fenix 7. Technically, the Forerunner is geared towards triathletes, and the fenix is an adventure watch, but they can be used for those activities interchangeably.

The two watches have many similarities and some small but important differences. Ultimately, it depends on your needs and what you will do while using the watch.

We’ve compared them in detail so you can choose the one that works best for you. Because both watches come in several different versions and styles, we’ve chosen to compare the base models of each watch in this article.

Main Differences

The most noticeable difference between the Garmin Forerunner 955 vs fenix 7 is in their construction. The fenix is the more robust of the two watches, featuring a stainless steel/titanium bezel and backplate.

While the Forerunner is still of great quality, it uses tough plastic instead of metal, which means it’s a little less hardy. That does mean that it comes in at a cheaper price, though, and is lighter.

The Forerunner also features some athlete-ready functions that aren’t present on the fenix. The fenix may be more waterproof than the Forerunner, but the Forerunner has more storage space.

Size, Weight, and Display

Garmin Forerunner 955

In physical size, the Forerunner 955 is the smaller of the two, but not by much. The watch is 46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4 mm in size and can fit people with wrists of 130 to 220 mm—5.1 to 8.6 inches.

It weighs just 52 grams, almost half of what the fenix does. In terms of the screen, you’ll find a 1.3-inch, 260 x 260-pixel display.

Garmin fenix 7

The Garmin fenix watch face is 47 x 47 x 14.5 mm. If you choose to use a silicone wristband, it can fit wrists of between 125 and 208 mm. A leather or fabric band can fit wrists up to 210 mm, and a metal band stretches that to 215 mm.

If you choose to deviate from the base model, you can find other models with various face sizes—41 mm, 47 mm, and 51 mm.

The fenix weighs 79 grams, which is quite a bit more than the Forerunner. Like the Forerunner, the display screen is 1.3 inches in diameter and 260 x 260 pixels in resolution. However, it is a touchscreen.

Battery

Garmin Forerunner 955

On average, you can expect 15 days of battery out of the watch in Smartwatch mode. If you choose to use GPS-only mode, you will be able to use it for up to 42 hours if you aren’t playing music at the same time.

All-Systems GNSS mode + Multi-Band should allow for up to 20 hours of battery life. If you add music to the mix, you should get 8.5 hours. Ultratrac mode lets you run the watch for nearly 80 hours in a pinch.

These numbers can change based on what else you’re doing with your watch at the time. For example, playing music or having your screen set to always-on mode will drain the battery faster.

Garmin fenix 7

The fenix has a better battery life and also has more battery modes to choose from. On average, it should last up to 18 days in Smartwatch mode, with a Battery Saver mode giving you up to 57 days of use.

GPS-Only can run for up to 57 hours. All Satellite Systems mode should give you around 40 hours of use, but that will drop down to 10 hours if you’re also listening to music.

Max Battery GPS mode will let you use the watch for up to 136 hours, while Expedition GPS mode will give you up to 40 days.

Hardware

Here, we’ll cover the functions built into both watches. They are fairly comparable so we won’t go into too much detail.

Sensors

Heart Rate Monitor

Both the Forerunner 955 and the fenix 7 are equipped with a Garmin Elevate wrist-based heart rate monitor. This is the regular HRM found on Garmin watches, so you can expect the same level of performance from both watches.

Pulse Oximeter

Also found on both the Forerunner and the fenix is a pulse oximeter, which measures your blood oxygen levels. This is a newer feature.

Other

Ultimately, the two watches have multiple overlapping sensors that perform the same function on each watch. These include:

  • GPS/GLONASS/ Galileo
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Compass
  • Accelerometer
  • Thermometer
  • Gyroscope

The only difference between the two is that the Forerunner 955 has multi-frequency positioning, which the fenix does not. This lets the watch take GPS coordinates from multiple satellite systems to ensure the most accurate data.

Features

Now we’ll get into the more software-based differences between each watch.

Maps and Navigation

Garmin Forerunner 955

The Forerunner 955 comes with multiple built-in navigation systems, point-to-point navigation, real-time breadcrumb trail mode, and a back-to-start feature. It also uses GPS for Around Me mode and Up Ahead mode.

The watch supports offline maps as well. You can use the Map Manager to download maps for a particular country. If you’ve used a Forerunner before, take note that this feature has moved to the main settings menu.

Garmin fenix 7

Like the watch above, the fenix has regular navigation features using multiple satellite systems, a point-to-point navigation function, breadcrumb navigation, Around Me, and Up Ahead mode.

Download whatever maps you need in Map Manager and use them offline to get around safely, no matter where you are.

Activities

Running

Both the Forerunner 955 and the fenix 7 offer excellent running features. You can choose from multiple running profiles to ensure the highest chance of success with the algorithm. These include:

  • Running (general)
  • Outdoor Track Running
  • Treadmill Running
  • Indoor Track Running
  • Trail Running
  • Virtual Running
  • Ultra Running

As well as your normal metrics like pace, distance, and time, the watches will track your cadence and performance condition and offer run workouts, RacePro Pacing Strategies, and a basic race predictor.

If you have a compatible accessory, you can also measure your vertical oscillation, ground contact time, stride length, running power, and lactate threshold.

One thing the Forerunner 955 offers that the fenix doesn’t is a weather-specific and course-specific race predictor. The only thing the fenix has that the Forerunner doesn’t is Run/Walk/Stand detection.

Triathlon

There are also built-in cycling and swimming profiles on both watches, so if you’re training for a triathlon, they’d be great tools.

You’ll be able to set alerts for when you reach particular milestones—distance, time, heart rate, etc—and monitor lap times on the bike or in the pool.

On the bike, you’ll have access to advanced cycling dynamics and can connect external sensors for even more insight.

In the water, you’ll be able to track metrics like stroke count, swim efficiency, and stroke distance. These can be measured in the pool and in open water.

If you’re in the pool, you can also make use of stroke detection, swim drills, pacing alerts, and a countdown timer.

Both watches have no problem reading your heart rate underwater, although you should ensure the watch sensor is tight against your skin.

Other

The Forerunner 955 and the fenix 7 offer an array of golf, outdoor, and gym features.

Golf: Worldwide course maps, yardage to green, shot distances, digital scorecard feature, stat tracking, Garmin Autoshot, course hazards, course targets, and pinpointer are featured on both.

The fenix also includes custom targets, PlaysLike distance, and Touch-Targeting. You can also get access to Green Contours if you sign up for a Garmin Golf membership.

Outdoor Recreation: Both watches feature abundant outdoor-geared activity tracking for the adventurer in you. Here are the profiles that overlap in both:

  • Hiking
  • Climbing
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Snowshoeing
  • Stand Up Paddleboarding
  • Rowing
  • Kayaking
  • Tennis
  • Pickleball

Forerunner 955 Only

  • Backcountry Skiing
  • Padel
  • Track Me
  • Project Waypoint

Fenix 7 Only

  • Indoor Climbing
  • Bouldering
  • Mountain Biking
  • XC Classic Skiing
  • Surfing
  • Hunting
  • Kiteboarding
  • Windsurfing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Jumpmaster
  • Tactical

Gym: The Forerunner offers on-screen muscle workout maps. The fenix provides cardio workouts. Both watches offer the following profiles:

  • Strength
  • HIIT
  • Cardio
  • Elliptical Training
  • Stair Stepping
  • Floor Climbing
  • Indoor Rowing
  • Breathwork
  • Pilates
  • Yoga

Training Aids

Garmin Forerunner 955

A few new features have popped up on the Forerunner 955. HRV—heart rate variability—is one of them. It requires you to sit as still as possible for 2 minutes, which is not ideal, but it can give you some insight into your heart health.

Another new feature is Training Readiness. This is similar to your Body Battery but is more specific to how recovered you are and how ready you are to train again.

You also have a handy function called Race Tracker for those who compete often. Add your race dates, and you’ll be able to view a countdown and expected weather on the days, and it tailors any suggested workouts to fit this schedule.

You’ll also be able to use HR zones for training purposes, follow along with how many calories you’ve burned, do interval training, monitor your VO2 max, and tailor your training to metrics like training load and training effect.

Garmin fenix 7

The fenix doesn’t have the new features of the Forerunner. However, you can still do an HRV stress test if you have a compatible accessory for it—external HRM—and use your HR zones, check your VO2 max, and see things like training load and effort.

While the fenix doesn’t have the Training Readiness feature, it does have the regular Body Battery function, which is fairly similar and can be used for the same purposes.

You can also do interval training, but you won’t be able to customize your intervals as much as on the Forerunner.

The one thing the fenix does have that the Forerunner doesn’t is Power Modes, the ability to customize your battery settings in different activities.

Health Monitoring

Both watches feature wrist-based HR, abnormal HR alerts, respiration rate, blood oxygen levels, Body Battery Energy Monitor, advanced sleep tracking, and Health Snapshot.

Women’s health tracking and hydration can be monitored in Garmin Connect or using a Garmin Connect widget on your device.

The only difference is that the Forerunner also offers relaxation reminders throughout the day, which the fenix doesn’t.

Music

Garmin Forerunner 955

According to Garmin, both of these watches can store up to 2,000 songs for listening offline. The Forerunner has 32 GB of storage, which means you should be able to fit a few more than that.

You can also control your music directly from your watch without the need for your smartphone. If you don’t want to use up your storage with music, the watch also has the ability to stream music.

Garmin fenix 7

The fenix has half the amount of storage that the Forerunner does—16 GB—although Garmin still states that it can hold up to 2,000 songs. You may need to be more careful with adding music, though, as some of that storage goes towards updates and such.

Like the Forerunner, you can use your watch to control your music without needing to touch your phone, which is convenient and easy. You can also stream music if you want to.

Accessories

Both watches are compatible with a host of Garmin accessories. If you’re planning on using accessories from different brands, you can view a list of the Forerunner 955’s compatible devices here and the fenix 7’s compatible devices here.

Other Features

Both watches also have safety features, including LiveTrack, incident detection, assistance, and live event sharing. Take note that live event sharing can only happen on an Android device for the Forerunner.

The Forerunner also has something called Spectator Messaging, which allows you to send text messages through the live tracking feature if you have a compatible smartphone.

Price

Garmin Forerunner 955

The Forerunner 955 is the more affordable of the two options. At the time of writing, you can pick it up for $499.99 directly from Garmin.

Considering the minor differences between the two, if budget is one of your finalizing factors, the Forerunner 955 is an excellent value for the price.

Garmin fenix 7

The fenix 7 is a luxury adventure watch, and it comes with a higher price tag. At the time of running, Garmin is selling the fenix 7 base model for $699.99, so consider carefully if you need the extra features before shelling out an extra $200.

Summary

There’s no way to say one of these watches is better than the other. When comparing the various features of the Garmin Forerunner 955 vs fenix 7, it’s easy to see that they’re geared for different kinds of athletes.

The Forerunner 955 is an excellent choice for spending less or looking for a lightweight watch. It’s a great choice for triathletes thanks to its range of activity profiles and lightweight yet robust build.

The fenix 7 is a full-featured watch that leaves just about no stone unturned. This is a great choice if you want a watch that can do it all and has a nice weight behind it. However, you must be prepared to pay a slightly hefty price.

Ultimately, there’s not that much difference between these two, although one is more of a luxury style than the other. Is it worth paying twice the price for a metal bezel and some extra features? That’s up to you to decide.

In the end, the one that suits you best depends on you and your sport. It’s a good idea to decide exactly what you truly need from a watch and make sure your choice covers that without going overboard.

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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.