This is an updated version of an article that we published at the start of this year. The 945 is one of the most popular devices in the Forerunner range. These are our expectations for its successor – the Forerunner 955.
We wrote in 2020 about an eagle eyed developer on Reddit who spotted code in Garmin Connect that revealed a whole plethora of goodies to be released in the future. All of that information is, of course, according to an unconfirmed leak.
In the software some devices were mentioned that have been launched by Garmin since. This includes the Index 2 scale and Forerunner 745. Devices that were mentioned but have not seen the light of day yet include the Forerunner 955 (and LTE version) and Fenix 6 Sport.
Interestingly, one of the devices that was not mentioned in the code is the Forerunner 945 LTE. That one was launched in early Summer. Could there have been a shift in Garmin’s plans since last year? That’s quite possible.
This year has been out of the ordinary with wearable brands only releasing a handful of new devices. Garmin is no exception. A combination of factors are to blame including the pandemic, energy shortages in certain Asian countries, coupled with chip shortages. There have clearly been delays in many company’s release schedules.
Nevertheless, there’s talk that Garmin has a few devices stacked up that are ready to launch. Quite a few filings have gone through the FCC in September and October. Could Forerunner 955 be one of them? This is definitely one of the most anticipated watches along with the Fenix 7.
Many are wondering when we will see the 955 and what features it will have. But apart from the code which mentions the name, there have been no leaks as to the 955. So all we are left with is speculation and features that one could reasonably expect. Competition is stiff, so it’s a fair bet that the company will set its aims high once again.
Garmin Forerunner 955: Design expectations
The Forerunner 945 is a cheaper version of the Fenix 6. Both have pretty much the same features, the main difference is in design. The fact that the bezel and case are made of fiber-reinforced polymer means Garmin is able to keep the price down. Mind you, this is still an expensive device but that’s to be expected considering the specs. It is one of the most fully featured sports watches out there.
Most Garmin sports watches have now adopted a similar look. The Forerunner 945 is a rather bulky device although it is lightweight coming in at only 50 grams. But it is fair to say this is a watch designed mostly for men. The company has started introducing different sizes with its recent crop of watches. For example the Fenix 6 also comes in a 6s version and 6X. Could we see the same with the Forerunner 955?
Previously we would have said unlikely, but rather surprisingly the 945 LTE did come down in size. It has a diameter of 44mm compared to the 47mm of the regular variant. And Garmin did this whilst maintaining the size of the 1.2 inch display (by slimming the bezel).
So it is quite possible we might see the introduction of a couple of different sized watches. If Garmin chooses to retain the 47mm variant we could very well see an increase in display size. Slim the bezel down and you could nicely fit in a 1.3 inch display into the frame. A resolution boost would be nice, too. What Garmin could also do is shave off a few millimeters in thickness.
This should not impinge on the battery very much as the tech is becoming more power-efficient. The Forerunner 945 runs an impressive 2 weeks on a single charge (GPS mode with music: up to 10 hours; GPS mode without music: up to 36 hours). The 945 LTE has pretty much the same battery life, despite the smaller size. Garmin will probably look to match or top this as battery capacity remains an important selling point.
The same consideration applies to the possible introduction of a touch or a high-res screen. While a slightly better display is a realistic possibility, the company will not want to compromise battery life so will opt to keep the physical buttons on the sides for navigation. The decision not to offer a touchscreen is practical because athletes would find a touchscreen difficult to use in wet weather or when swimming. If we do see the introduction of touch functionality, most likely this will be in combination with the physical buttons.
We don’t see a realistic possibility of Garmin introducing an AMOLED display on the 955. Apart from being power hungry, it would increase the price of an already expensive watch. An AMOLED display is not the top of the wishlist of most 935 and 945 owners.
Apart from shrinking the bezel, we don’t anticipate many other design changes with the 955. Garmin has showed it is sticking to the tried and tested formula.
Garmin Forerunner 955: Expected features
The 945 is a very capable multi-sport GPS watch. Whatever type of exercise you are into, it can track it. In addition to heart rate monitoring from the wrist, the watch provides advanced running metrics and outdoor navigation. And finally, while not the most user friendly, the Garmin Connect software is top notch whether you are utilizing the smartphone app or the even more comprehensive web dashboard.
According to the above mentioned leak the Forerunner 955 is arriving in a regular and an LTE variant. Are you likely to call your office while on a run? Perhaps not, but it would be nice to have the option.
The fact that we’ve seen a 945 LTE makes it pretty much certain we will see a 955 LTE, as well. This is to support phne-free safetly and tracking features.
One of these is something Garmin calls Assistance. It can be useful in emergencies as it automatically sends an alert with your location to pre-defined contacts. There’s a Plus version of the same which taps into Garmin’s 24/7 staffed emergency response unit.
As far as cellular tracking features, these include Livetrack, Spectator Messaging and Live Event Sharing. This revolves most around sharing your real-time location, and receiving audio and text messages on the watch – no phone needed, thank you very much.
A LTE variant of the 955 will most likely build on these features. But we don’t see true cellular ability which would allow you to make calls on the Forerunner 955. The Venu or Vivactive range is a better fit for that as these are all-purpose smartwatches that compete with the likes of the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch and Fitbits.
New performance metrics and sport profiles
It will be interesting to see what else the 955 brings to the table as it already has pretty much most of the features of Fenix 6. This includes lots of Firstbeat metrics. No doubt, the company will continue to build on these particularly as it has recently acquired the Finnish outfit.
A good example is the Forerunner 745. At launch it came with a few features that were not seen before, namely Daily Workout Suggestions, Track Run profile and improved Recovery time. These have since made it to other watches via software updates. Expect more such goodies to be built into the 955 when it comes out.
Recovery metrics are where we feel where Garmin has lots of scope for improvement. At minimum, it would be nice for the watch to dish out raw HRV information.
But, this watch is not simply for running. There are special features to help with swim training, cycling, golfing and skiing too. To list them all would simply take too long. Garmin will continue to build on these which means we will see other niche sports and additional metrics tracked.
The 945 LTE brought with it the new V4 heart rate sensor. An upgrade is the heart rate sensor is a certainty.
ECG sensors have been making all the headlines over the past year. Why not ECG functionality on a Garmin watch? Not a must-have, but it is a nice-to-have. Could we realistically expect this? Maybe not at this stage. The likes of Withings and Samsung have shown it is not easy securing regulatory approval for such functionality, particularly in the US.
A realistic possibility is a skin temperature sensor. Fitbit has it, as do another of other brands. In these coronavirus times, it would be a useful addition.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Other sensors are always a possibility. It’s been a while since we’ve seen something truly revolutionary on this front. This could include a blood-pressure sensor which seems like a good candidate, either this year or next. Valencell has issued a press release at CES 2021 revealing new sensor technology for wearable devices. It will allow smartwatches to take blood pressure readings with the same accuracy as traditional cuffs – no calibration needed. And this is done via the optical heart rate sensor.
Another possibility is a glucose sensor which should also land in the next year or two. Sweat analysis and a hydration sensor are probably a few years down the line. Perhaps for the Forerunner 965…
Solar charging is also something we saw on Fenix 6. Garmin could easily port this over to the Forerunner line. This is another feature that is probably not top of people’s wish lists. The solar doesn’t really add very much to existing battery life and the Forerunner 935 and 945 watches already have excellent battery life.
Having said that, we could see the introduction of Power Manager options. On Fenix 6 the functionality offers various settings to manage battery use including Battery Saver, Power Mode, and Battery Alerts.
Garmin Forerunner 955: Expected release date
Garmin usually adopts a two year cycle for upgrading its sports watches. The Forerunner 945 was released in April 2019 and the 945 LTE in June 2021. The 935 was unveiled back in March 2017. That one is still a great watch, by the way.
If we ignore the LTE variant, Spring looks like the ideal time to release the 955. It would be around three years after the original 945, and four years after the 935. So in line with the two year cycle.
Our money is that we will get a Fenix 7 unveiling at CES 2022 in Las Vegas, followed by the 955 a month or two after. It is unlikely both will be announced at the event. If we do get the Fenix 7 next month, it will provide lots of clues as to what to expect from the Forerunner 955.
Garmin Forerunner 945/945 LTE
As far as price, expect something around the $600 mark. If we get an LTE variant, that one will probably run an extra $100 or so.
So what do you think? What would you like to see on the Forerunner 955?
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