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Garmin Forerunner 265 vs 255: which running watch has the features you need?

If you’re looking for a dependable running watch that can track your pace, distance, heart rate, and more, the Forerunner series may be of interest. The Garmin Forerunner 255, in particular, is an excellent option. But now we have the 265 which is live on Garmin’s site as of today. So, how does it stack up versus the 255?

That one was released in June 2022 and includes a long list of improvements over its predecessor. It’s no wonder the watch has been a best-seller since its release. The device may lack the bells and whistles of the more expensive high-end Forerunners, but it offers excellent value for money.

We have no doubt that the 265 will sell just as well, if not better. Its main upgrade is a snazzy AMOLED display.

What else is different? Here’s everything you need to know.

Check Garmin Forerunner 265 availability & price on Garmin.
Check Garmin Forerunner 255 availability & price on Amazon | Garmin.

Garmin Forerunner 265 vs 255: Hardware


Garmin Forerunner 265 and 255 have the same overall appearance as the 245 before them. Both have a circular design with five physical buttons, three on the left and two on the right.

One minor modification is the redesign of the top right-hand button on the 265. It has grown significantly in size. There is no special functionality associated with this change, though some speculated that it could be a hidden ECG sensor. But this is not the case.

Another thing the two generations have in common is that they both come in two sizes. If you buy a 255, you can choose between a 46mm and a 41mm case. The 265 is available in 46mm and 42mm sizes.

Garmin Forerunner 255
Garmin Forerunner 255

The most significant difference between these two generations, as previously stated, is the inclusion of a 1.3 inch and 1.1 inch AMOLED display on the 265 and 265s, respectively. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this screen technology is becoming more common in watches.

The 255 and 255s, on the other hand, have the same screen size options, but with Transflective MIP technology. In practice, this type of display has better outdoor visibility than AMOLED in many cases. However, it falls short indoors. It also has a lower resolution than AMOLED.

Garmin Forerunner 265
Garmin Forerunner 265

Moving quickly on, and another notable distinction is that the 265 has touchscreen functionality. That means that if you choose the 255, you’ll have to rely solely on the physical buttons to navigate the menus. Most people should have no trouble with this. For those who are serious about their athletic pursuits, the touch display is more of a nice to have than a must have.

All of these timepieces are relatively light. Whichever option you select, it will not add weight to your wrist. Plus, the watches have excellent 5 ATM water resistance.

The build has not changed. The case is constructed of fiber-reinforced polymer and is held together by a removable silicone band. Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protects the display.

You do, however, get a different choice of colours.

The 255 is available in Slate Grey/Black, Dark Blue/Black, and Black, Stone White/Black for non-Music editions, and Black, Stone White/Black for Music editions. The 255s comes in the same colors as the Music version, as well as Light Grey/Black and Dusty Pink/Black for non-Music. For the 265, color options include Black/Powder Gray, Whitestone/Tidal Blue, and Aqua/Black. In addition to Black/Amp Yellow, Whitestone/Neo Tropic, and Light Pink/Whitestone for the 265s. Something for everyone there.

Under the hood

Nothing separates these two watches under the hood. Both ranges have the same sensors, which include heart rate, blood oxygen, an altimeter, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a compass. In case you’re wondering, the heart rate sensor is the same generation on both, so ELEVATE Gen 4. However, that is Garmin’s latest generation sensor, capable of producing accurate measurements as well as raw HRV data.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

In addition, both the 255 and 265 have excellent multi-frequency global satellite system reception. This ensures good accuracy even in narrow mountain valleys, urban canyons, and other difficult environments. The technology can connect to GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO, and SatIQ can automatically choose between them.

In terms of non-fitness-related technology. The 265 and 255 models both have an NFC chip for contactless payments. The most recent model also includes built-in music storage and supports Amazon Music, Deezer and Spotify playback by default. You’ll need to purchase the separate Music edition to get this on the 255. That one has room for about 500 songs, which is half of what a 265 with its 8GB of internal memory can hold.

Battery life

Battery life is another area where the devices excel. There are minor differences, but all of these watches can run for about two weeks before needing to be recharged. Garmin’s light operating system ensures that all of its watches have long battery lives. With GPS turned on, you can expect a day.

Garmin Forerunner 265 vs 255: technical specs comparison

Here’s a table illustrating all the important hardware details.

Foreruner 265/265s
Forerunner 255/255s
Lens material
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Bezel material
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Quick Release Bands
265: Yes (22 mm, Industry standard)
265s: Yes (18 mm, Industry standard)
255: Yes (22 mm, Industry standard)
255s: Yes (18 mm, Industry standard)
Physical size
265: 46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9mm
265s: 41.7 x 41.7 x 12.9mm
255: 45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9 mm
255s: 41 x 41 x 12.4 mm
Display type
Transflective MIP
Display size
265: 1.3″
265s: 1.1″
255: 1.3″
255s: 1.1″
Display resolution
265: 416 x 416 pixels
265s: 360 x 360 pixels
255: 260 x 260 pixels
255s: 218 x 218 pixels
265: 47 grams
265s: 39 grams
255: 49 grams
255s: 39 grams
Heart rate (including SpO2), barometric altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, ambient light sensor
Heart rate (including SpO2), barometric altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass
Satellite connectivity
GPS, Glonass, Galileo (multi-frequency)
GPS, Glonass, Galileo (multi-frequency)
Battery life
265: Smartwatch mode: Up to 13 days; GPS mode: Up to 20 hours.
265s: Smartwatch mode: Up to 15 days; GPS mode: Up to 24 hours
255: Smartwatch mode: Up to 14 days; GPS mode: Up to 30 hours; GPS + Music: 6.5 hours
255s: Smartwatch mode: Up to 12 days; GPS mode: Up to 26 hours; GPS + Music: 6.5 hours
Music storage
8GB of internal memory – up to 1000 songs
4GB of internal memory – up to 500 songs (Music version)
Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
Bluetooth, ANT+ (Music version also has WiFi)
265 (Black/Powder Gray, Whitestone/ Tidal Blue, Aqua/Black)
265s (Black/Amp Yellow, Whitestone/Neo Tropic, Light Pink/Whitestone)
255 (Slate Grey/Black, Dark Blue/Black)
255 Music (Black, Stone White/Black)
255s (Light Grey/Black, Dusty Pink/Black), 255s Music (Black, Stone White/Black)
$350 Non-Music version, $400 Music

Garmin Forerunner 265 vs 255: Functionality

The Garmin 255 is a very popular watch. It might lack the multitude of sports modes of the higher-end Forerunners, Fenix and Epix – but it still comes with everything you need to track your health, fitness and running adventures in great detail.

The watch is a great choice for someone who primarily runs. It can track your pace, distance, heart rate, VO2 max, recovery time, and more. Plus you get all the general health stats that come with buying a Garmin watch.

The 255 actually comes with lots of upgrades over the 245. This includes the latest generation heart rate sensor, a barometric altimeter, multi-frequncy GPS, HRV Status, Running Power, Morning Report, Race Widget, many more sports profiles and support for Garmin Pay. And let’s not forget the battery life which has doubled.

The changes introduced with the 265 are not nearly as big. Which is not really surprising considering the short time period between the release of the 255 and 265. Imagine the uproar from 255 owners if the 265 came with lots of new functionality, so soon after their watch was released.

Beyond physical characteristics and (increased) music storage on all versions of the watch, the updates mostly come down to Training Readiness and wrist-based running dynamics. Both of these are useful features for runners.

Training readiness

Training Readiness was first introduced on the Garmin Forerunner 955 in June 2022. Since then, the feature has arrived to a plethora of other Garmin sports watches. However, the 255 is not one of them.

Garmin’s Training Readiness feature tells you how prepared you are for training on a daily basis based on six metrics. This includes sleep, recovery time, heart rate variability status, acute load, sleep history, and stress history. They combine to assess how well you rest, recover, and adapt to your training.

Garmin Forerunner 265

Training Readiness assigns a score between 0 and 100 and displays a short message on your Garmin watch. It can be useful to know whether you should exercise hard on a particular day or rest your body.

Wrist-based running dynamics

These are advanced metrics that can assist you in improving your running form and performance.

  • Cadence is defined as the number of steps per minute.
  • Vertical oscillation refers to the amount of bounce in your running motion.
  • Ground contact time: How long each foot spends on the ground with each step.
  • Ground contact time balance: The balance of ground contact time to the left and right.
  • Stride length: The distance between each footfall in your stride.
  • Vertical ratio: The vertical oscillation to stride length ratio.

Cadence and stride length can already be found on most Garmin watches. But the 265 and 965 are able to track some of these additional metrics such as ground contact time, vertical oscillation, real-time stride length and real-time steps per minute. Running dynamics are available on the Forerunner 255, but only when paired with the Running Dynamics Pod or a compatible heart rate chest strap.

Here’s a table showing the differences in functionality as per Garmin‘s website.

Foreruner 265/265s
Forerunner 255/255s
Spectator messaging
Yes (with compatible smartphone)
Cardio workouts
Gym activity profile – breathe-work
Training Readiness
Hot keys
Unified training status
No (probably coming via a firmware update)
Running Dynamics
Only with compatible accessory
Outdoor Recreation – Auto rest
Power curve and % FTP workouts

Garmin Forerunner 265 vs 255: The verdict

The difference in features between the Forerunner 265 and 255 is not significant. It mostly comes down to the AMOLED display and more music storage space, both of which are standard on all versions of the watch.

Aside from that, the Training Readiness metric and wrist-based Running Dynamics are available. Both are useful for runners and are unlikely to make their way to the 255 via a software update. As far as the fitness sensors are concerned, there is no change.

If you want to take advantage of these extra features as well as the snazzy display, you’ll have to pay around $50 more than if you were to purchase the 255. Which is not all that much considering the upgrades.

Not convinced that the 265 features are worthwhile? The Forerunner 255 is still an excellent choice. Furthermore, you may be able to get it at a significant discount now that the 265 is out.

Check Garmin Forerunner 265 availability & price on Garmin.
Check Garmin Forerunner 255 availability & price on Amazon | Garmin.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

One thought on “Garmin Forerunner 265 vs 255: which running watch has the features you need?

  • ajudou bastante, gostaria de comparação do 255 x 645 x 245


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