Image source: Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 945 vs 935: detailed specs comparison

The 955 is the upgraded version of the popular 945. These are the watches in the Garmin Forerunner lineup. In this article we compare the high-end Forerunners.

In spring 2017, Garmin introduced the Forerunner 935. Two years later the 945 saw the light of day and that saw another iteration in the form of an LTE edition in the summer of 2021. Not we are getting the 955.

There were quite a few leaks in the past few weeks. But Garmin has just added the device to its website so now everything is known. It is clear the 955 is arriving with some nifty upgrades. This includes a solar option for the first time on a Forerunner watch, along with touch-screen functionality, a few really useful additional performance metrics and more.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 945 – which to choose? Should you upgrade if you have a 945? What if you are still holding on to your 935? This article will hopefully make your decision easier.


Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 945 vs 935: Hardware

Design

At first glance, the Garmin Forerunner 955 looks pretty much the same as the 945. Which, in turn, looks fairly similar to the 935. The round design is present on all of these devices. This is accompanied by the same physical button configuration – two buttons on the right, three on the left. High-end Forerunner lovers would have it no other way.

The dimensions are not all-to-different, either. This is a masculine watch and the 945 and 935 come in at 47 x 47 x 13.9 mm body. At 46.5mm the 955 has a slightly smaller diameter, but it is a fraction thicker (14.4 mm). These differences are not that big.

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Fenix 5 vs Fenix 5 Plus: the battle of the heavyweights
Garmin Forerunner 945 | Source: Garmin

In all three cases you get an always-on Transflective MIP display. This has excellent visibility indoors and out and also has the benefit of always staying on. It comes with the type of technology which is not very power hungry. Hence, the excellent battery life of these devices.

One important change, however, is in the size of the screen. While the 935 and 945 have a 1.2 inch display with 240 x 240 pixel resolution, the 955 has a 1.3 inch screen with 260 x 260 pixel resolution. Garmin has achieved this size increase by slightly shrinking the bezel – which makes for an overall nicer appearance.

The other upgrade to do with the screen is that the Forerunner 955 is the only one that is touch-enabled. You can customize this functionality to your liking, so it doesn’t always have to stay on. Some people prefer purely navigating with the buttons, especially when they are exercising. But its nice to have the option there if you want it.

Other than that, there are no further huge design differences. The watches come with 5 ATM water resistance rating which should suffice for most people. They also have a quick-fit removable 22 millimeter strap attached to a fiber-reinforced polymer body.

The weight of the device is fairly similar between the three generations – around 50 grams. Which, despite its fairly large size, makes for a lightweight sports watch.

Under the hood

The 955, 945 and 935 have the same list of sensors under the hood. However each edition comes with the next generation heart rate sensor. The 955 has the Gen 4 ELEVATE, the 945 Gen 3. Of the trio, the 935 is the only one that doesn’t have the ability to track SpO2 and respiration rate. Other than that, they monitor the same basic activity and health metrics.

As far as sattelite connectivity, all three can link up to GPS, Glonass and Galileo. However, the only one with multi-frequency capability is the 955. This ensures a quicker and more accurate signal. Garmin says watches with dual-frequency systems can achieve accuracy within about +/- 2 meters or 6 feet under ideal conditions. The 945 and 935 have location accuracy of other models is within about +/- 3 meters or 10 feet under ideal conditions.

The 955 and 945 also come with an NFC chip. This enables you to pay on the go without your wallet or credit card. They also come with built-in storage for music. The 955 has space for 2,000 songs, the 945 for 1,000. Either should be enough for most music lovers.

Battery life

Battery life has always been a highlight of all high-end Forerunner watches. All three of these watches can keep going for at least two weeks on a single charge. Some bigger differences can be found for battery life when GPS is switched on. The more power efficient chip of each subsequent generation has allowed Garmin to make gains on this count.

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar

Furthermore, the Forerunner 955 also comes in an optional solar variant. This is the first time we are seeing solar on a Forerunner – another first. Th device is exactly the same as the non-Solar model apart from the sun-ray charging capability and $100 higher price-tag. Some people like the added juice you get when you charge your watch on the go.

The 955 Solar adds another 5 days in smartwatch mode and 7 hours in GPS mode. It is worth noting that you may not always be able to achive these figures as the watch needs to be exposed to light of at least 50,000 lux for 3+ hours a day. In London where I am based this is definitely not achievable in the Winter months. Sometime not even in the Summer!

Foreruner 955
Forerunner 945
Forerunner 935
Lens material
Corning Gorilla Glass DX (Solar edition has Power Glass)
Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
Chemically strengthened glass
Bezel material
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Quick Release Bands
Yes (22 mm, Industry standard)
Yes (22 mm, Industry standard)
Yes (22 mm, Industry standard)
Physical size
46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4 mm
47 x 47 x 13.7 mm
47 x 47 x 13.9 mm
Display type
Transflective MIP – touchscreen
Transflective MIP
Transflective MIP
Display size
1.3″ (33mm)
1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter
1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter
Display resolution
260 x 260 pixels
240 x 240 pixels
240 x 240 pixels
Weight
52 grams | solar 53 grams
50 grams
49 grams
Water-resistance
5 ATM
5 ATM
5 ATM
Sensors
Heart rate (including SpO2), barometric altimeter, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, thermometer
Heart rate (including SpO2), barometric altimeter, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, thermometer
Heart rate (including SpO2), barometric altimeter, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, thermometer
Satellite connectivity
GPS, Glonass, Galileo (multi-frequency)
GPS, Glonass, Galileo
GPS, Glonass, Galileo
Battery life
Smartwatch Mode: Up to 15 days. 42 hours in GPS mode. 80 hours in UltraTrac mode. Solar option – up to 20 days in smartwatch mode, 49 hours in GPS mode and 110 hours in UltraTrac mode.
Smartwatch Mode: Up to 2 weeks
GPS mode without music: Up to 36 hours
GPS mode with music: Up to 10 hours
UltraTrac mode: Up to 60 hours without wrist heart rate
Smartwatch Mode: Up to 2 weeks
GPS mode: Up to 24 hours
UltraTrac mode: Up to 60 hours without wrist heart rate
Music storage
Up to 2000 songs
Up to 1000 songs
None
Connectivity
Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
NFC
Yes
Yes
No
RRP
$500 | Solar $600
$400
$285

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 945 vs 935: Functionality

There is no point writing too much about the general activity and health tracking functionality of these watches. They pack the best that Garmin has on offer. Of course, each subsequent generation comes with better accuracy due to new sensors along with some other additions. But rest assured, any of these watches will do a good job. All of this is as accurate as can be expected. Garmin is known for the quality of its hardware and software.

Steps, distance, calories spent, sleep and more are churned out around the clock. As mentioned, the 935 is the only one of the three without the ability to track SpO2 and respiration.

One area where Garmin continues to lag behind for some reason, is with sleep tracking. It is 2022 and Garmin devices still do not have the ability to track naps! We’re not sure why this is the case as much lesser known brands come with this type of functionality baked in.

And while the breadth of general activity and health tracking stats is generally the same between the three devices, there are important upgrades with each subsequent generations in terms of performance metrics. This will be particularly important to those who are religious about their athletic pursuits. And that’s pretty much the bulk of the customer base of the high-end Forerunner watches.

The upgrades that come with 955 over 945

It has been about three years between these two versions of the watch. So it should come as no surprise that the 955 comes with some handy upgrades over the 945. In addition to the latest generation heart rate sensor and support for a few more sports modes, it has with the following.

Morning report

The Morning Report is not a huge upgrade. Essentially, this is a screen on your watch that shows your sleep score, recovery status, training outlook, HRV status, training readiness score and weather after waking up. It is customizable so you can change around these metrics as per your liking.

Training Readiness

A bigger upgrade is Training Readiness. This is a metric that is present on the Forerunner 955, but not on its little brother – the 255. You can check out our detailed piece on how the metric works.

The jist of it is that the watch shows a real-time score on a scale from zero to 100. This is different than Recovery Time in that is is more encompassing. The metric takes into account Sleep, Recovery Status, HRV Status, Acute Load and Stress. Each of these components is weighted in varying ways and timeframes. One glance at the Training Readiness score and you’ll know whether you should push hard on a particular day or take it easy.

Garmin Training Readiness

Garmin Connect and the web dashboard also display this metric. But unlike the watch which shows a real-time value, only the morning value is registered on these platforms.

HRV (heart rate variability) Status report

We’ve also done a much longer piece on HRV Status report. This is a new metric that is present both on the Forerunner 955 and 255. Presumably it will be made available in time to all watches with the latest generation heart rate sensor. This includes the Fenix 7, Epix 2, Venu 2, Venu 2 Plus and a few others.

HRV usually is a good indicator of how fatiqued you are. Unlike resting heart rate, the higher its value – the better. The metric captures the regularity of intervals between the individual heart beats.

Garmin HRV Status

Garmin records this while you sleep. Each morning you’ll get a nightly average, along with a seven day average. This is compared to a longer baseline which is established after you’ve worn the watch for at least three weeks. All of this is accompanied by insights from Garmin which help you interpret the data.

Race Widget

The Race Widget is also something that has not been included before. You can access the view from your watch-face. In there Garmin slots information about training tips, daily suggested workouts, weather and more. The watch will also display finish time prediction based on course details and your current fitness. We’ve learned not to pay too much notice to those predicted times as they can be quite generious.

Garmin Forerunner 955

Running Power

Many people have been patiently waiting for Garmin to add native Running Power to its watches. This is an alternative to training with heart rate zones. It helps you with gauging your real-time effort by combining various factors such as elevation to show how much energy you are currently using at any point in time during your activity.

Garmin Forerunner 955 Running Power

The feature is not standalone. In order for this to function you must have a accessory. This can be either the Garmin Running Dynamics Pod or the HRM-Pro chest strap. So it’s not quite what most people were hoping for. But at least you get some sort of native running power, along with the ability to add running-power specific training zones.

Multi-frequency GPS

There’s nothing more frustrating that waiting for GPS to connect before commencing an exercise. Or doing a run to find out your running metrics are skewed because the GPS signal was out of whack on certain parts of the track.

Multi-frequency GPS helps to address these issues. It allows for the simultaneous use of multiple GNSS (GPS, Glonass, Galileo). This is particularly useful in areas where satellite signals are weak or where there’s interfearance. It should allow for quicker connection times and more stable and accurate data.

Pre-loaded maps

Garmin has expanded the map capability of its high-end Forerunner watch with preloaded TopoActive maps. Combined with the larger display and touch ability of the screen, it should make for nice viewing. The maps can be used for orientation and navigation.

What’s more, the Forerunner 955 can download maps for any region for free. The 945 only comes with maps for the region you bought it in. There’s also now a “Map Manager” feature which helps with managing and downloading maps via WiFi to your 955.

Garmin forerunner 955 Maps

Real-time stamina

We’ve seen this metric earlier this year on the Fenix 7 and Epix 2. Its aim is to help users manage exertion during running or bike activities. The metric is designed to show how much performance you have left in the tank so that you can better adjust your effort. In an ideal scenario, it should allow you to push as hard as possible but not risk running out of gas before the finish line.

Garmin Forerunner 955 Real Time Stamina

Up Ahead

Up Ahead is a tool that was also introduced with the Fenix 7 watch earlier this year. It provides information about relevant upcoming locations along your route or the road on which you are travelling. The information is presented in a rolling list as you navigate the course.

Storage for music

Both the Forerunner 955 and 945 have built-in storage for music. The difference is that the 955 has twice as much space for songs. You can sync and store up to 2,000 songs to it while the 945 “only” has space for 1000. Do you really need that much space. Probably not.

Here’s a recap of all the differences between the 955 and 945 when it comes to activity, sports tracking functionality and smart features.

Forerunner 955
Forerunner 945
Forerunner 935
Touchscreen
Yes
No
No
Multi-frequency GPS
Yes
No
No
Elevate heart rate sensor
V4
V3
V2
HRV Status
Yes
No
No
Running power
Yes
No
No
Morning Report
Yes
No
No
Race widget and race calendar
Yes
No
No
Real-time Stamina
Yes
No
No
Map Manager
Yes
No
No
Up Ahead
Yes
No
No
Fitness Age
Yes
No
No
Relaxation reminders
Yes
No
No
Health Snapshot
Yes
No
No
HIIT workouts
Yes
No
No
On-screen workout muscle maps
Yes
No
No
Vo2 Max (Trail Run)
Yes
No
No
Training Status
Improved
Yes
Yes
Acute Load
Yes
No
No
Golfing features (PinPointer, Handicap scoring, Tournament legal)
Yes
No
No
Connect IQ store on wrist, ability to configure watch activity profiles and data fields from your phone
Yes
No
No
Garmin Pay
Yes
Yes
No
Music storage
2000 songs
1000 songs
None

The upgrades that come with 945 over 935

You can read our detailed comparison between the Garmin Forerunner 945 and 935 on this link. Here we’ll just briefly list them.

Starting with smart functionality, on the 945 you get on-board storage for music along with NFC for contactless payments. None of this can be found on the 935. Other improvements include navigational mapping on the 945, the pulse oximeter, Gen 3 ELEVATE heart rate sensor, Assistance and Incident detection and a bit of extra battery life.

And let’s not forget the additional performance metrics. They come in the form of Body Battery energy monitoring, improved VO2 Max that adjusts for heat and altitude, Training Effect Labels and Training Load Balance.


Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 945 vs 935: The verdict

I’ve been holding on to a Forerunner 935 watch for the past five years. And I’m happy to say – it still works just as well as it did the day I bought it. Garmin hardware really is quality made. The device has served me well but I feel now is the right time to upgrade.

I skipped the 945 as it didn’t seem to be a big enough jump in specs to prompt me to sell my watch and go for the new one. But the situation is different this time around.

The 955 comes with everything the 945 offers in addition to a larger display, touch-functionality, more battery-juice (along with a pricier solar option), Gen 4 ELEVATE heart rate sensor, multi-frequency GPS, and some very useful performance metrics. I really do feel the last on this list will help me take my training up a notch. Recovery stats are an area which Garmin has focused on most with the latest generation Forerunner.

And let’s not forget the Fenix 7 software additions – they all come baked into the 955. The $500 device really is one of the most comprehensive sports watches around. At that price, it is also one of the best deals in sports technology right now.

Should you upgrade if you have a 945? I doubt that the new performance stats will land on this edition (but they will on 945 LTE as it has the Gen 4 heart rate sensor). Hence it is down to you to decide whether the upgraded hardware and software is worth the purchase. It is not an easy decision. If the listed improvements are not important for you, there will surely be some hefty discounts on the Forerunner 945 in the weeks and months ahead.

Check Garmin Forerunner 955 availability & price on Amazon | Garmin.
Check Garmin Forerunner 945 availability & price on Amazon | Garmin.
In certain countries, such as the UK, you can get 15% off on the Forerunner 955 by generating a coupon. Use the coupon on the sportsshoes website.

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One thought on “Garmin Forerunner 955 vs 945 vs 935: detailed specs comparison

  • Does the screen quality decrease with the solar version?

    Reply

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