Garmin Forerunner 165 vs 265

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs 265: differences explained

Garmin’s Forerunner lineup caters to runners of all levels, and selecting the right model can be tricky. If you’re trying to decide between the affordable Forerunner 165 or the feature-packed Forerunner 265 series, this side-by-side comparison is for you. These offerings differ in both functionality and price, making the choice one worth weighing carefully. While the Forerunner 165 was released today, the Forerunner 265 and 265s have been around since March 2023.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

In this comparison, we’ll take a deep dive into the different aspects of these Garmin smartwatches. Keep reading to find out which of these might be the right fit for you.


Key takeaways

The Forerunner 165 and its Music variant serve as an excellent entry point with essential tracking capabilities at a more accessible price. So, if your main focus is everyday fitness and basic running stats, the series delivers excellent value. Athletes craving extra performance metrics, superior GPS accuracy, and support for a few more sports will find the Forerunner 265 and 265s indispensable training partners.

View on Garmin; View on Amazon (Forerunner 265).

Jump to

Hardware
Technical specs
Features
Bottom line


Garmin Forerunner 165 vs 265: Hardware

Look & feel

Starting with the shape and build, all three watches share the traditional circular design with a focus on functionality. The construction is robust, with the models boasting a fiber-reinforced polymer case and bezel. This ensures durability without adding unnecessary weight. The Forerunner 265 series elevates the design with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for the lens material, offering enhanced scratch resistance compared to the chemically strengthened glass of the Forerunner 165.

Size options vary slightly between the watches to cater to different wrist sizes and preferences. The Forerunner 265 available in a slightly larger form factor than the 165 and 265s, providing options for users who prefer a bigger watch face.

Thankfully, all three devices retain Garmin’s signature five-button layout. This provides tactile and reliable control even while running or wearing gloves, perfect for those who prefer physical buttons over touchscreens.

Display, colour options, water resistance

The screen technology is another area where the Forerunner series stands out. The Forerunner 165, 265, and 265s all feature AMOLED displays. Size differences between the displays vary, the 265 comes with 1.3 inch, the 165 with 1.2 inch and the 265s with a 1.1 inch screen.

Across the board, the Forerunner 165, 265, and 265s all share a 5 ATM water resistance rating. This means they are perfectly suitable for swimming and showering, giving you worry-free use in different weather conditions.

Color options for the Forerunner series are varied, allowing users to choose a watch that best fits their personal style. The Forerunner 165 is available in a range of colors, including options for both the music and non-music variants, catering to different tastes with shades like Mist Grey/Whitestone and Black/Slate Grey. The Forerunner 265 and 265s expand the palette further with additional vibrant options such as Black/Powder Gray, Whitestone/Tidal Blue, and Aqua/Black for the 265, and unique combinations like Black/Amp Yellow and Light Pink/Whitestone for the 265s.

Sensor technology

In terms of sensor technology, there’s a mix of similarities and differences between the Garmin Forerunner 165 and the Forerunner 265 series. Both series provide an accelerometer, optical heart rate sensor (Garmin Elevate V4), barometric altimeter, compass, thermometer, and ambient light sensor for comprehensive health and activity tracking. So no difference there. However, the Forerunner 265 and 265s go a step further by including a gyroscope. This addition is particularly beneficial for activities involving complex movements or changes in direction.

All three watches offer GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO tracking for accurate location data. The Forerunner 265 and 265s take this further by featuring dual-band GPS support (also known as multi-band GNSS). This technology significantly improves GPS accuracy. It is especially useful in challenging environments like cities or forests where signals can bounce and become unreliable.

The trio features NFC for convenient contactless payments directly from your wrist. Where they differ is music storage. The Garmin Forerunner 165 has an optional “Music” version, adding internal storage for offline music playback. The Forerunner 265 and 265s include this feature by default.

Finally, connectivity features such as Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi (for the Forerunner 265 and 265s, and the Forerunner 165 Music variant) facilitate seamless data syncing and updates, as well as connectivity with a wide range of accessories and sensors for expanded tracking capabilities.

Battery life

The Forerunner 165 offers a commendable balance between functionality and battery life, despite its more power-consuming AMOLED display. With up to 11 days of battery life in smartwatch mode, 19 hours with GPS, and 17 hours with all GNSS systems activated, it slightly trails behind its predecessor, the Forerunner 55, in terms of longevity. However, it compensates with a higher resolution display and the inclusion of music storage options in the Forerunner 165 Music variant. Albeit with a reduced battery life during music playback to 7 or 6.5 hours.

The Forerunner 265 series, on the other hand, pushes the envelope further with its advanced features while maintaining impressive battery performance. Both the Forerunner 265 and 265s models offer enhanced battery life compared to the Forerunner 165. The 265 provides up to 13 days in smartwatch mode and 20 hours with GPS usage. The smaller 265s impresses with up to 15 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 24 hours with GPS.


Garmin Forerunner 165 vs 265: Technical specs

Here’s a detailed tech specs comparison table for the Garmin Forerunner 165, Forerunner 265, and Forerunner 265s:

Feature
Garmin Forerunner 165
Garmin Forerunner 265
Garmin Forerunner 265s
Release Date
Feb-24
Mar-23
Mar-23
Case Material
Lens: Chemically strengthened glass. Bezel/Case: Fiber-reinforced polymer
Lens: Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Bezel/Case: Fiber-reinforced polymer
Lens: Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Bezel/Case: Fiber-reinforced polymer
Number of Physical Buttons
5
5
5
Shape
Round
Round
Round
Size
43 x 43 x 11.6 mm
46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9 mm
41.7 x 41.7 x 12.9 mm
Display Type
AMOLED
AMOLED
AMOLED
Resolution
390 x 390 pixels
416 x 416 pixels
360 x 360 pixels
Screen Size
1.2 inch
1.3 inch
1.1 inch
Weight (without strap)
39 grams
47 grams
39 grams
Sensors
Accelerometer, optical heart rate (Elevate V4), barometric altimeter, compass, thermometer, ambient light sensor
Accelerometer, optical heart rate (Elevate V4), gyroscope, barometric altimeter, compass, thermometer, ambient light sensor
Accelerometer, optical heart rate (Elevate V4), gyroscope, barometric altimeter, compass, thermometer, ambient light sensor
Water-Resistance
5 ATM
5 ATM
5 ATM
Positioning
GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO
Dual-band – GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO
Dual-band – GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO
Built-in Speaker
No
No
No
Microphone
No
No
No
NFC
Yes
Yes
Yes
Music Storage
Optional
Yes (up to 1000 songs)
Yes (up to 1000 songs)
Connection
Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi for Music version
Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
Cellular Connectivity
No
No
No
Battery Type
Li-po
Li-po
Li-po
Battery Life
Up to 11 days in smartwatch mode, up to 19 hours with GPS, up to 17 hours with GNSS, with music playback – 7 or 6.5 hours
Smartwatch mode: Up to 13 days; GPS mode: Up to 20 hours
Smartwatch mode: Up to 15 days; GPS mode: Up to 24 hours
Operating System
Proprietary
Proprietary
Proprietary
Colors
Non Music version (Mist Grey/Whitestone, Black/Slate Grey), Music version (Black/Slate Grey, Mist Grey/Whitestone, Berry/Lilac, Turquoise/Aqua)
Black/Powder Gray, Whitestone/Tidal Blue, and Aqua/Black
Black/Amp Yellow, Whitestone/Neo Tropic, and Light Pink/Whitestone
Typical RRP
$250 and up
$450
$450

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs 265: Features

Garmin’s Forerunner series is designed with fitness at its heart. So its no surprise that all three models share a strong foundation in health and activity tracking. Whether you choose the Forerunner 165, 265, or 265s, you’ll gain valuable insights into your daily steps, heart rate patterns, sleep quality, and stress levels. Garmin’s Body Battery feature takes this data a step further, analyzing it to give you a tangible number representing your overall energy reserves. Plus there are other recovery tools such as HRV Status and Recovery Time.

Which means – the Forerunner 165, while positioned as an entry-level option, doesn’t skimp on essential health and fitness features. It includes a variety of gym and outdoor activity profiles, such as strength training, cardio, elliptical training, running, biking, and more. This makes it a versatile companion for users looking to monitor their exercise routines across a range of activities.

For runners, both series provide essential metrics. The 265 series extends this with Training Readiness, Training Status, Training Load and a few other bits and pieces. But let’s face it – these additions will not make a huge difference to most users.

A more crucial difference for those navigating city streets or dense trails is the Forerunner 265 series’ multi-frequency GPS. This provides better location accuracy, ensuring your mileage and maps are precise even in areas with weaker signals.

The 265 models also introduce additional gym activities like indoor rowing and a wider selection of outdoor running, cycling, and multisport options, including triathlon tracking. The inclusion of racket sports, snow and winter activities, team sports, and even in-the-ring sports like boxing and mixed martial arts showcases Garmin’s commitment to providing comprehensive tracking for virtually any sport. Notably, the Forerunner 265 range also supports advanced cycling features. This includes compatibility with power meters and detailed cycling dynamics, appealing to serious cyclists and triathletes.

Smartwatch-type features

Smartwatch-type features across the Forerunner series enhance the overall user experience by blending fitness tracking with everyday convenience. All models offer smartphone compatibility with iPhone and Android, ensuring seamless connectivity for notifications, music controls, and more. The series also supports Garmin Pay for contactless payments, making it easy to make purchases without carrying a wallet. Additionally, safety and tracking features, including incident detection and assistance, add a layer of security for users during outdoor activities.

Unique to the Forerunner 265 range are smart features like on-screen workout animations and muscle maps. These guide users through exercises directly from their wrist, enhancing the training experience with visual aids. Additionally, the Forerunner 265 and 265s include a Red Shift mode. This feature transforms the screen into shades of red, preserving your night vision in low-light conditions. It also helps to minimise disruptions to your sleep cycle after evening workouts.

Garmin Forerunner 265
Garmin Forerunner 265

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs 265: Price

Price-wise, there’s a clear hierarchy. The Garmin Forerunner 165 sits at the entry-level, offering excellent value for its core fitness tracking features. Expect it to be the most affordable in the lineup. The Forerunner 265 and 265s step up in functionality with features like the gyroscope, dual-band GPS, and standard music storage, leading to a higher price tag. Between the two, the smaller size of the Forerunner 265s won’t impact cost, so the choice largely comes down to your ideal fit.


Garmin Forerunner 165 vs 265: Final thoughts

The beauty of Garmin’s Forerunner series lies in its ability to cater to different fitness journeys. At its entry-level, the Forerunner 165 delivers the fundamentals to empower those embracing a more active lifestyle. Its well-rounded feature set and attractive price make it an excellent starting point for tracking activities and establishing healthy habits.

As your fitness ambitions grow, the Forerunner 265 and 265s rise to the challenge. They arm you with a bit more in-depth metrics, pinpoint GPS accuracy, and an array of profiles for numerous sports. If you demand detailed data for optimizing performance or participate in various activities, these higher-end Forerunner models are designed for your training needs.

Ultimately, the choice boils down to how deeply you want to analyze your workouts and the versatility you require. If you thrive on data and crave the best possible accuracy, the Forerunner 265 series will elevate your training. If a solid daily fitness tracker at a great price is all you need, the Forerunner 165 fits the bill perfectly.

View on Garmin; View on Amazon (Forerunner 265).

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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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