Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Forerunner 265

Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Forerunner 265: Which one is right for you?

Navigating the labyrinth of Garmin’s wearable tech can be a daunting task, even for the most seasoned experts. Today, we’re diving deep into a few of recent Garmin offerings: the Vivoactive 5, Forerunner 265S, and Forerunner 265.

Whether you’re a fitness aficionado or someone who’s just looking for a smartwatch that can do it all, this comparison will provide you with all the details you need. We’ll dissect their hardware, delve into their technical specs, and evaluate their functionality to help you make an informed decision.

Garmin Vivoactive 5 (check price on Garmin, Amazon); Garmin Forerunner 265 series (check price on Garmin, Amazon).

Jump to

Hardware
Technical specs
Functionality
The bottom line


Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Forerunner 265: Hardware

Look & feel

When you first lay eyes on these Garmin devices, you’ll notice that each has its own distinct aesthetic, yet they all carry the signature Garmin look—sleek, sporty, and functional.

The Vivoactive 5 is encased in a fiber-reinforced polymer with an anodized aluminum bezel, giving it a robust yet lightweight feel. It has a physical size of 42.2 x 42.2 x 11.1 mm and weighs just 23g (36g with the included band), making it comfortable for all-day wear. The Corning Gorilla Glass 3 lens adds a layer of durability, ideal for those who lead an active lifestyle. There’s just a single size option.

On the other hand, the Forerunner 265 and 265S both feature a fiber-reinforced polymer case and bezel. While they share the same lens material as the Vivoactive 5, their dimensions and weight differ. The Forerunner 265s measures 41.7 x 41.7 x 12.9 mm and weighs 39g, whereas the 265 is slightly larger at 46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9 mm and heavier at 47g. Regardless which you choose, these devices are designed for comfort, fitting a range of wrist circumferences.

All three models come with silicone straps, which are both durable and skin-friendly. The Vivoactive 5 uses a 20 mm industry-standard quick-release band, while the Forerunner 265 and 265S opt for 22 mm and 18 mm bands, respectively. This gives users the flexibility to swap out bands to match their style or activity.

The display is another area where these devices diverge. The Vivoactive 5 boasts a 1.2-inch AMOLED display with a 390 x 390-pixel resolution, offering vibrant colors and sharp images. The Forerunner 265s has a slightly smaller 1.1-inch display but maintains decent quality with a 360 x 360-pixel resolution. The Forerunner 265 goes big with a 1.3-inch display and a 416 x 416-pixel resolution, making it the best choice for those who prefer larger screens.

Under the hood

When it comes to the core technology, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Forerunner 265 range each have their own unique offerings. The Vivoactive 5 is equipped with the Elevate sensor version 5, which is the latest in heart rate monitoring. On the other hand, the Forerunners sport the older Elevate sensor version 4, a reliable but somewhat dated technology. The other notable difference as far as sensors, is that you will find a barometer on the 265 and 265s but not on Vivoactive 5.

The Multi-frequency satellite connectivity, available in the Forerunners, offers a distinct advantage over the standard satellite connectivity provided by Vivoactive 5. Utilizing multiple frequencies for communication with satellites enhances the accuracy and reliability of location tracking.

Storage is another area worth discussing. The Vivoactive 5 offers 4 GB of storage, which is adequate for your apps, music, and workout data. However, the 265 and 265s take it up a notch with 8 GB of storage, allowing for more room for your digital belongings.

Battery Life

Battery life varies among these devices but is generally robust. The Forerunner 265 and 265s outperform the Vivoactive 5’s 11 days on a single charge. In smartwatch mode they can keep going 13 and 15 days respectively. With GPS switched on all of these are good for around a day of tracking between charges. Which is pretty decent.


Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Forerunner 265: Technical specs

Before we delve into functionality, let’s take a quick look at the technical specifications of these devices.

Feature
Vivoactive 5
Forerunner 265
Forerunner 265s
Lens material
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Bezel material
Anodized Aluminum
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Case material
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Fiber-reinforced polymer
Quick Release Bands
Yes (20 mm, Industry standard)
Yes (22 mm, Industry standard)
Yes (18 mm, Industry standard)
Physical size
42.2 x 42.2 x 11.1 mm
46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9mm
41.7 x 41.7 x 12.9mm
Display type
AMOLED
AMOLED
AMOLED
Touchscreen
Yes
Yes
Yes
Display size
1.2″
1.3″
1.1″
Display resolution
390 x 390 pixels
416 x 416 pixels
360 x 360 pixels
Weight
23 g (36 g with band)
47 grams
39 grams
Water-resistance
5 ATM
5 ATM
5 ATM
Sensors
Heart rate (including SpO2), accelerometer, compass, ambient light sensor
Heart rate (including SpO2), barometric altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, ambient light sensor
Heart rate (including SpO2), barometric altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, ambient light sensor
Satellite connectivity
GPS, Glonass, Galileo
GPS, Glonass, Galileo (multi-frequency)
GPS, Glonass, Galileo (multi-frequency)
Battery life
Smartwatch mode: Up to 11 days; GPS mode: Up to 21 hours
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
Music storage
4GB of internal memory
8GB of internal memory
8GB of internal memory
Connectivity
Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
NFC
Yes
Yes
Yes
RRP
$300
$450
$450

Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Forerunner 265: Functionality

Vivoactive 5

The Vivoactive 5 is a versatile device designed to cater to a wide range of users. It stands out for its focus on rest and recovery, offering sleep coaching and nap tracking. The device is inclusive, providing workout options for wheelchair users.

While it may not offer a lot of advanced training metrics, it does come with move alerts to remind you to stay active. Unique to the Vivoactive 5 is its ability to track gaming activity. Additionally, the device supports live event sharing, but this feature is limited to Android users. For those who enjoy golf, the Vivoactive 5 is equipped with a comprehensive set of golfing features.

Forerunner 265/265s

The Forerunner 265 and 265s are geared towards serious runners and athletes. These devices offer advanced metrics like VO2 Max for trail running, training readiness, and load ratio. They also provide a comprehensive set of training features, including training status, training load, and training effect labels. The Forerunners excel in running dynamics, offering metrics like grade-adjusted pace, performance condition, and lactate threshold with compatible accessories.

These devices also come with specialized features for outdoor recreation like point-to-point navigation and bread crumb trail in real-time. Cyclists will appreciate the FTP (Functional Threshold Power) metrics and power curve workouts. Swimmers aren’t left out either; the Forerunners offer drill logging, pacing alerts, and pool swim workouts.

Here’s a detailed comparison.

Vivoactive 5
Forerunner 265/265s
Floors Climbed
No
Yes
Sleep Coach, Nap Tracking
Yes
No
Workouts for Wheelchair Users
Yes
No
On-Screen Workout Animations
No
Yes
Move Alerts
Yes
No
Gaming Activity
Yes
No
Live Event Sharing
No
Android™ Only
Training Readiness, VO2 Max (Trail Run), Load Ratio, Training Status, Training Load, Training Load Focus, Training Effect, Training Effect (Anaerobic), Primary Benefit (Training Effect Labels), Daily Suggested Workouts, Custom Alerts, Finish Time, Virtual Partner
No
Yes
Other training features (% HRR, Auto Max HR, Race Glance/Widget, Rest Tier, Configurable Lap Alerts, Race an Activity, Auto & manual Multisport Activities, Course Guidance, Hot Keys, Unified Training Status)
No
Yes
Running Dynamics
No
Yes
Grade-Adjusted Pace
No
Yes
Performance Condition
No
Yes
Lactate Threshold
No
Yes (with compatible accessory)
PacePro™ Pacing Strategies
No
Yes
Trail Run Auto Climb
No
Yes
Race Predictor
No
Yes
Golfing features
Yes
No
Outdoor recreating (Point-to-Point Navigation, Bread Crumb Trail in Real Time, TracBack®, UltraTrac Mode, Up Ahead, Elevation Profile, Distance to Destination,Barometric Trend Indicator with Storm Alert, Vertical Speed, Total Ascent/Descent, Future Elevation Plot, Projected Waypoint)
No
Yes
Cycling features (Courses, Bike Lap and Lap Maximum Power, Race an Activity, FTP, Power Curve and % FTP Workouts, Power Meter Compatible)
No
Yes
Swim features (Drill Logging, Pacing Alerts, Countdown Start, Pool Swim Workouts, Critical Swim Speed)
No
Yes

Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Forerunner 265: The bottom line

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 is a jack-of-all-trades, designed for a broad user base with features like sleep coaching, nap tracking, and even gaming activity tracking. It’s an inclusive device that doesn’t delve deep into advanced metrics but offers a well-rounded experience for everyday users.

On the other hand, the Forerunner 265 and 265s are specialized tools for serious runners and athletes. They offer advanced metrics and specialized features for various sports, including running, cycling, and swimming. These devices are not just about tracking but about enhancing performance through detailed metrics and training features.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

If you’re looking for a versatile, everyday wearable that can handle a variety of activities, the Vivoactive 5 is your go-to. At $300 it offers good value for money (check price on Garmin, Amazon). However, if you’re an athlete or a serious runner who needs in-depth metrics and specialized training features, the $450 Forerunner 265 series would be a more suitable choice (check price on Garmin, Amazon).

You may also be interested in:

Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Venu 2 vs 2 Plus
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Garmin Vivoactive 5. vs Amazfit Balance

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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.

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