Garmin Epix vs Forerunner 965: All 65+ Differences Detailed

I have just spent an absurd amount of time trying to compare every single feature, hardware component, and menu option between the new Forerunner 965 and the existing Garmin Epix watch. Both are AMOLED display units, but spaced approximately 14 months apart, and from different Garmin divisions. And – most notably, up to $400 difference in price.

The Epix comes from the Outdoor division and is designed to be an AMOLED display mirror of the MIP-based Fenix lineup. Whereas the Forerunner 965 comes from the Fitness division, and is designed to be an AMOLED display variant of the MIP-based Forerunner 955. Of course, while these units are overwhelmingly similar, there’s also a slate of differences. Many of the differences you’d never notice, heck, I even learned of a few extremely minute level differences. In fact, I think even Garmin doesn’t realize the extent of some of these quirks.

Overall, the biggest differences are actually the most obvious: Display size, case materials, and weight. The next reasonably easy-to-find set comes from a slate of differences in the golf features (yes, golf), multi-band GPS not on the Epix base edition, as well as custom map subscription options on the Epix. The third category is best described as ‘How to stump a reviewer’ category, which includes quirks on sleep display customization options, tidal glance options, or the uselessly silly fact that the Forerunner will put menu lists like sensors in alphabetical order, whereas Epix says nah.

In this post, I’ve chunked all the changes into four broad categories. Most of these are fairly self-explanatory, but a few are confusing AF. My goal for this post is to keep this simple and not over-explain, since I’ve already burned a dozen hours digging. The categories are:

– Hardware components (e.g., case/bezel/battery/etc…)
– Daily watch features (e.g., sleep, user interface, etc…)
– Sports features (e.g., sport profile options, sensors, functions)
– Mapping and navigation (everything focused on getting unlost)

In total, as of initial publishing, I’ve found 65+ differences. I say ‘plus’, as I’m sure there are other things I simply haven’t found. Let’s begin!

Hardware & Component Differences:


The biggest differences between the two units are on the hardware side. In most cases, it’s fancier materials for the Epix. That makes sense because the Fenix lineup (which is effectively what the Epix is), is designed to be a premium watch. As such, it has premium components. Still, there are two notable differences where the Forerunner 965 has the upper hand, especially compared to the base Epix model (non-Sapphire). The first is that the Forerunner 965 has a larger screen at 1.4” versus the smaller 1.3” on the Epix. The second is that the Forerunner 965 has multiband GPS, whereas only the Epix Sapphire editions have that. And finally, all FR965 editions have 32GB, whereas the base Epix only has 16GB (the Sapphire has 32GB).

The rest of the hardware differences are pretty self-explanatory till we get to battery life:


Here’s a little side-by-side gallery of the two:

Next, there’s the battery life. Starting off with smartwatch-based battery life, the Forerunner 965 actually claims to get better battery life than the Epix. Again, this makes sense due to the tech being at least 14 months newer. In reality, the gap is even more than that. Garmin had been building and stock-piling Epix units for months prior to announcement. Whereas for the FR965, stock is almost non-existent at launch. Point being, there’s more efficient hardware in the Forerunner 965. Also, Garmin hasn’t updated their Epix specs with all the software-driven battery advancements since launch. So in reality, the Epix numbers are probably slightly better than this (which is what I saw in my review even back then).


You’ll notice that Epix does appear to handle better in GPS-only workouts (non-multiband, non-multi GNSS). GPS-only mode shouldn’t be used in deep forests or other tough GPS scenarios, but is great for more open areas (oceans, farmland, deserts, etc…). Also, Garmin hasn’t updated their Epix charts to show SatIQ timing. This feature came out this past summer. And Garmin should really add this to their Fenix 7 and Epix charts because frankly it would dramatically boost their GPS numbers there (as it does on their other watches). SatIQ mode essentially lets the watch dynamically (and instantly) change GPS/GNSS modes between multiband and non-multiband to get the most power-efficient and accurate GPS type for that moment in time. In 9 months of testing across everything from the Alps to New York City I’ve found it virtually indistinguishable to forced multiband (which has a huge power hit).

Point being, with the exception of GPS-only mode, these two are actually pretty darn close in GPS times. As for charging, both watches support charging while in an activity – in case you need even longer times.

Daily Watch Features:


This is the category that is most close, though, visually, also most different. Feature-wise, things are nearly identical save one notable newish feature – the Jetlag Advisor. That was introduced on the MARQ series last fall, and then carried into the Epix & Fenix 7 lines in the last quarterly update. Here’s the overall table:


Instead, the main differences here are really around the user interface. What’s ironic is that since the Forerunner 965 was announced, there’s been a lot of discussion on the ‘new UI’. Some Epix users are really upset that the Epix won’t be getting the new UI, while others dislike the FR965 UI. Either way, for better or worse, I think many are overthinking how different the new UI actually is.

The most obvious change is the stock watch face, but frankly, that’s not considered the new UI. That’s just…well…a watch face. Instead, the UI is the collection of fonts, menus, and styling throughout the watch. And while it’s different, it’s not dramatically so. In fact, almost everything is the same save some slanting of fonts. Here’s an example side by side (white is FR965, black is Epix):

DSC_5888 DSC_5889

Functionally, there’s almost no difference in terms of features except perhaps the GPS waiting screen, when you go outside and wait for GPS signal. The FR965 is undoubtedly better, though almost everything information-wise is actually displayed on both (except the FR965 also shows the time of day). Both iterate through a sequence of icons better seen in video to show effectively the same information.


But that’s kinda it. Again, I think a lot of folks are really overthinking the changes here, perhaps based on the watch face being so different (which most people don’t count as the UI, since model watch faces are typically unique/specific to a given Garmin model, also…for better or worse).

The last two minor differences actually favor the Epix over the Forerunner 965:

Flashlight: Both units have software flashlights to turn the screen all white (or red), and at varying levels. In the case of the Epix though you simply double-tap the upper left button. Whereas the Forerunner 965 you have to assign a long-hold. It’s trivial, but I much prefer the quick double-tap in the middle of the night.

Touchscreen Sleep Settings: Next, there’s one additional menu item deep in the touchscreen settings, adding a ‘Sleep’ option. On the Epix, you can also outright disable the touchscreen during sleep (mode). Whereas on the FR965, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Keep in mind that the FR965 sleep mode still won’t respond to a touch anyway, unless you’ve hit a button first. So it’s kinda a wash. And even if it does respond to the button first then touch, it’s still at the lowest 25% sleep-mode brightness level. Again, this fell into the sports-reviewer trivia level that I don’t think has any real-world implications.

Everything else between these two watches from a daily usage standpoint is identical.

Sports Differences:


Some of the most visible feature differences are in the sports category, especially if you’re a golfer. If you’re not a golfer, then it’s a bit more mixed. Some features currently favor the FR965, at least until the next quarterly update when the Fenix/Epix series will get these new software features. Yet other features favor Epix, such as more data fields per page and battery modes.

I do want to make one observation though: While Garmin has been working the last year to standardize on a quarterly firmware update release cycle that aligns these products together, the reality is they are made by different teams with different internal timelines and priorities. Each time the Fenix 7/Epix gets new features first, the Forerunner 955 people scream that “Garmin is ignoring us and loves them more!”, and then a few months later when the Forerunner 955 has gotten new features first, the Fenix 7/Epix people scream “Garmin is ignoring us and loves them more!”. Seriously, as has been demonstrated time and time again, these do almost always equalize out over time – and if you were to put all the cards on the table as to who is first, it’s almost a perfect wash. The same will undoubtedly be true for the Forerunner 965 going forward.

Now, here’s the table of sporting differences:


As you can see, the features just launched on the Forerunner 265/965 are still coming to the Epix/Fenix 7, slated for the next quarterly update. Though in reality, Fenix 7/Epix users can already see their Chronic Load and Training Load Ratio today in their Garmin Connect app on their phone (within Performance, under Training Load section).

Before we talk golf-related features, the single biggest difference many have noted is likely the data field support. While both units support virtually unlimited data pages and seemingly all the same graphical pages, one quirky difference is that the Epix supports 8 data fields per page, while the Forerunner 965 only support 6 data fields per page. That’s especially odd given that the Forerunner 965 actually has a bigger display:


This is one of those examples that I hope Garmin rectifies. If for no other reason than to quell the number of seemingly angry people about this. After all, it’s hardly logical. I mean, assuming you ignore that Epix is $400 more.

The next is messier, which is the sport mode differences. Here’s the list of Forerunner 965 sports as of March 8th, 2023:

Forerunner 965 Sport Modes: Run, Track Run, Ultra Run, Trail Run, Treadmill, Virtual Run, Indoor Track, Hike, Walk, Triathlon, SwimRun, Multisport Duathlon, Multisport Brick, Multisport Custom, Bike, Bike Indoor, MTB, eMTB, eBike, Cyclocross, Gravel Bike, Bike Commute, Bike Tour, Road Bike, Open water, Pool Swim, Strength, Cardio, HIIT, Yoga, Pilates, Elliptical, Stair Stepper, Climb, Climb Indoor, Row indoor, Floor Climb, Ski, Snowboard, Backcountry Ski, Snowshoe, Backcountry Snowboard, XC Classic Ski, XC Skate Ski, Row, SUP, Kayak, Tennis, Pickleball, Padel, Bouldering, Disc Golf, Golf, Breathwork, Project Waypoint, Health Snapshot, Other, Clocks, Navigate, Track Me, Map, Map Manager, Connect IQ Store

Additionally, the Fenix 7/Epix also has the following extra sport profiles (as of March 8th, 2023). I note the date because Garmin adds sport profiles each quarterly update. So if you find this post down the road and notice new sport profiles, drop me a note in the comments and I’ll update this table/date:

Additional Epix/Fenix only sport modes: Adventure Race, Tube, Surf, Kiteboard, Windsurf, Boat, Sail, Sail Race, Sail Expedition, Wakeboard, Wakesurf, Water Ski, Tempo Training (Golf), Reference Point, Jumpmaster, Tactical, Tides, Anchor (Boating), Expedition, HRV Stress

It’s a bit fuzzy to me why the Fenix 7/Epix has some added water sports. Some have speculated that it’s because of the higher water-proofing level of 10ATM versus 5ATM on the Forerunner 965.

Speaking of those price differences, the biggest area is actually in golf. This is one that Garmin has noted in the past that Epix/Fenix consumers are far more likely to be golfers than Forerunner users. While this is partially a self-fulfilling prophecy, I actually don’t have any problem with Garmin including a boatload of added golf features on the higher-priced Fenix/Epix units. In this case, outside of mini-golf, I’m not much of a golfer, so I’ve taken the list from Garmin.com and consolidated it into a comparison table below:


Hopefully that makes sense for you small ball people.

Mapping & Navigation:


Lastly, we’ve got the mapping and navigation page.  When the Forerunner 955 launched last summer, the number of differences here was much greater. But over the last 9 months the Forerunner team has worked specifically to close the gap, and as the Forerunner 965 has arrived, these differences are almost non-existent. Back then there were silly-annoying differences like the inability to double-tap to enable touch on a map on the Forerunner units, or that the Forerunner would reset the map zoom level every time you changed to a different data page (the Fenix/Epix kept the zoom level). These days, those issues are all gone.


I’ve used both units pretty extensively in mapping/routing adventures, and find them a wash in almost all scenarios. And as described below, the singular notable difference you’ll see is the current inability to download Garmin’s newishly renamed Outdoor+ satellite image map subscription service. This was previously called Garmin Birdseye imagery (for the past decade+), plus other subscription map services for other map types. These were all extra paid map types that were pretty use-case specific. These are NOT the built-in TopoActive maps that both units have. Last month Garmin made it possible to download these Outdoor+ maps direct via WiFi to the Fenix/Epix unit without having to use clunky desktop apps.  Also, currently Outdoor+ Maps have only launched for the US (I expect that to expand quickly, since previously Birdseye was available everywhere).


There’s also reference point mode. This is a feature that only 6 of you have ever used, likely accidentally. Basically it’s a widget that lets you lock a compass heading/point, and then navigate in relation to it. For 99.9999999% of you (including me), you’re going to use either pre-planned courses, on-demand route/courses, or simply saved waypoints.


As you can see, these days the mapping/navigation features are very close to being converged, and hopefully that’s a trend that continues.



When it comes to which watch to choose, it’s likely the biggest factor here will first be hardware style or budget. Beyond that, you’d want to decide which features are most important to you. If you don’t care about golf or subscription satellite map services, then the Forerunner 965 will likely fit the bill just fine. Inversely, if you really want some of the extra sport modes, or fancier hardware – then the Epix is the best bet.

Having used both devices recently, and then beyond that, both families of devices for quite a while, for my needs I’m happy with either one. I’ve personally long-preferred lighter-weight watches like the Forerunner 955, but then concurrently, I also prefer the AMOLED screen seen on the Epix previously. Thus for me, the Forerunner 965 effectively combines the best of those worlds together. I don’t golf, nor do I have a boat for some of the watersports involved there. But again, that’s just my personal preference.

You can always dig into the full reviews of either device here:

Garmin Epix In-Depth Review
Garmin Forerunner 965 In-Depth Review

With that – thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the Garmin Forerunner 965 or Garmin Epix (Gen 2) or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you shop with TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40! The Pro's Closet has been a long-time partner of the site here - including sponsoring videos like my cargo bike race, as well as just being an awesome Colorado-based company full of good humans. Check them out with the links below and the DCRAIN40 coupon!

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

This is a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart cycling cadence sensor that you strap to your crank arm, but also does dual Bluetooth Smart, so you can pair it both to Zwift and another Bluetooth Smart app at once if you want.

This is one of the top straps I use daily for accuracy comparisons (the others being the Polar H9/H10). It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and in fact dual-Bluetooth Smart too, in case you need multiple connectons.

Seriously, this will change your life. $9 for a two-pack of these puck Garmin chargers that stay put and stay connected. One for the office, one for your bedside, another for your bag, and one for your dog's house. Just in case.

This speed sensor is unique in that it can record offline (sans-watch), making it perfect for a commuter bike quietly recording your rides. But it's also a standard ANT+/BLE sensor that pairs to your device. It's become my go-to speed sensor.

This wifi-connected scale will track your weight and related metrics both on the scale display and in Garmin Connect (plus 3rd party apps like TrainingPeaks). It'll also then sync your weight to your watch/bike computer, to ensure accurate calorie data.

The HRM-PRO Plus is Garmin's top-end chest strap. It transmits dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, but also transmits Running Dynamics & Running Pace/Distance metrics, stores HR data during a swim, and can be used without a watch for other sports. Also, it can transmit XC Skiing Dynamics as well.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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  1. jCO2

    Have you mentioned the lack of barometric sensor on the 965 ? does that’s make a difference in some sport activities (eg skiing) ?

  2. gideon

    thanks for the great content and detailed comparison

  3. BobC

    The 935xt has dropped to $200 on Amazon US and the 735xt is bouncing around $100 (both new, not refurbished). Including the 955 and 965, it makes sense to ask which provides better value to which audiences, especially after including the available IQ apps?

    For me, getting a new 935xt would seem to kick butt. Especially if you can catch the HRM Pro+ on sale.

  4. Gregory Yourek

    Nice comparison, I was wondering what the major differences were. Thank you.

    Slight typo in the Golf section, under Epix>Measures Shot distance (“Automtaic”).

  5. Chris

    I did not know that Fenix/Epix has a metal case. I thought they had a fiber-reinforced polymer case with a metal bezel and backplate.

  6. Kyle

    I’m an avid golfer with my Fenix 6x but the only useful feature its really missing is “Playslike” distance…which if you play the same courses most of the time, you already know them anyways.

    • Michael

      Hey Ray
      Thank you for this comparison! Useful as always.
      I do have some complaints about Garmin update policy and I don’t mean the different timing between the fenix7/epix and FR 955/965.
      What I mean is that older models like the FR 745 (stil for sale!) didn’t get any updates for nearly 1 year! ( To my opinion some of the features of the FR 255 could have easily given to the 745)
      Other companies do a lot beter like Coros (gives even updates to models not in production anymore and I mean real updates not only buck fixes), Polar
      Even my old iWatch 4 got a new update!
      So I’m very curious if and for how long the FR 255 and 955 wil get new updates……
      Yours sincerely Michael

    • Yeah, Garmin update policy is still such a weird thing. They said the 255/955 will continue to see rough parity with the new units for some time, but how long exactly remains fuzzy.

    • MJ

      Is the 7xx series dead, considering how many features the 255/265 now have?
      It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of room between the 265 and 965 for a stand-alone watch level.

  7. jww

    This is great. Methinks this post is gonna sell a lot of Forerunners over Epix. Especially with new Fenix and-or Epix coming Q-2.

    MARQ 2 is a pretty tough sell. Display 1.2″ versus FR now 1.4″ and Epix 1.3″.

    • Craig

      Do you have any background on your belief of a new Epix or Fenix coming out this year at all nevermind Q2? I’d be willing to bet we won’t see a new watch in either line this year.

    • David

      Historically there are 2 to 2.5 years between Fenix models unless they offer a “Plus” model that adds something some like cellular etc. Epix had SEVEN years between models when it released the Epix 2 in early 2022. I guess what I’m saying is while I do think Epix/Fenix will get a new model by sometimes in 2024 (because the AMOLED version was such a hit) I’d be shocked if any major redesign came this year aside from maybe a cellular version but with the same screen/style as the older version. If they do significantly update their flagship lines after only 1 to 1.5 years that is a big sign they feel they are getting hurt by Apple and the Apple Watch Ultra to me.

    • jww

      Hi Craig. It is just from their CEO’s Q1/Q2 outlook for Outdoor :

      “We expect the first quarter of 2023 to be challenging as we compare against the strong results from the prior year, which were driven by the launch of the flagship fēnix 7 Series, the Instinct 2 Series and the all new Epix. We expect growth to resume starting in the second quarter, driven once again by new product introductions.”
      link to seekingalpha.com

      New product launches implies wearables, even though outdoor technically includes handhelds, in-reach, golf, dog, probably more.

      Obviously would expect these to be mid-cycle refreshes, e.g. + variants.

    • Matt

      Couldn’t these be those product launches? Something launching at the end of Q1 would impact Q2.

  8. Kyle

    I actually had no idea these watches were that close. Forerunner might be my next watch since it ticks all the boxes.

  9. With the 965 being 14 months newer, does it have a newer processor and/or GNSS chip that will keep it relevant and updated with software updates for longer?

  10. JT

    Is here any chance, that Epix will get new UI like FR965?

  11. mac

    Another one – you can use the Epix (and Fenix) with the Quarter Turn mount to “easily” turn it into a bike computer, whereas the 965 you’d have to mount it to your handlebars using the strap?

    • Nice – good point! Will find a place to stash that!

    • Frank

      How do you do that with the Epix? Is there a special adapter?

    • Lennart

      Is that true?
      Since the 965 is compatible with quickfit wristbands and 965 & Epix are nearly identical in case size I was hoping the 965 would work with quarter turn bike mount. I thought the reason it is not listed as a compatible device is simply because it doesn’t ship with quickfit wristband. So if you replace the factory wristband with a quickfit could you then use the 965 with quarter turn bike mount?

    • Piers

      Great article as ever.
      Have Garmin sorted the charging connection on these?
      My Fenix 5 has the same (gold?) pins and every time I want to charge it I have to clean the connectors thoroughly with Isopropyl Alcohol. They degrade with sweat, yet place them uncovered next to skin 🙄. Been doing this for years now and don’t want to get same problem again…

  12. Zoltán

    It seems to me that the display of 965 is a bit nicer, I mean the colours, but it may come simply from the different band colour. With a white band maybe Epix would shine to the same extent…..

  13. Patrick

    but perhaps the biggest difference is the number of bugs presumed to be present on the 965 since they are on the 955. given that these are only growing in number each time garmin release an update i would hesitate to buy a 255/265 or 955/965.
    in particular, the 955 forum is full of users reporting appalling battery drain. Ray himself reported 3 days battery life from the 965.
    the F7/Epix by contrast seems to have relatively few software bugs but does perhaps have more hardware issues

    • Dan Jordy

      What hardware issues do the F7/Epix have?

    • inSyt

      And now that same Forerunner team now also has to work on AMOLED specific firmware for the 265/965, instead of sensibly letting the Epix/265/965 have the same firmware from the same team, expect to see more unresolved bugs.

      In fact, Garmin should only have team working on the OS/features, and 3 additional teams for the UI. 1 for MIP (Forerunner/Fenix), 1 for MONO (Instinct/Vivomove) and 1 for AMOLED (Venu/Epix).

  14. Rasmus

    Is there any update to the amount of active CIQ data fields you can have active om a activity?

    On the 945 and many other watches the limit has been 2 active CIQ fields which I has found problematic.

  15. David Sharp

    Garmin seems to have dropped the UK price of the EPIX Sapphire by a very significant amount (nothing to indicate it’s a ‘sale’ or temporary reduction) so it’s only £180 more than the 965

  16. Tim

    Ray, did you verify the Tides Connect IQ app works on the 965? I’ve never tried it and would be interested despite the terrible reviews, however, the only compatible Forerunner listed is the 945. It crashes the store trying to look for it for my 955.

    • I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll give it a whirl.

    • Nils E.

      Any news on this one yet?

      I’m new to Garmin watches and I was also wondering if some of the other water sports/sailing gaps on the FR965 could be closed using the Garmin IQ apps (e.g. Sail Race, Tide, Anchor)? Does adding these apps equal adding activity options?


  17. DanW

    Re Sports Mode Features differences, I may be misunderstanding what you’ve provided in the table above, but I believe the 965 has HRV — link to support.garmin.com. Can you clarify? Thanks!

    • It’s actually different. The FR965 has HRV Status and all the HRV things, as does the Fenix 7/Epix.

      But the HRV Stress app is a different thing, kinda a legacy thing quite frankly, that’s designed to have you stand for a period of time and spit out a score: link to garmin.com

      There’s really no value in it anymore, given Training Readiness.

  18. Tim Howard

    Before the Venu 2 plus added AFIB detection, it was apparent that the needed hardware was already installed and it was simply a software update for Garmin to add it. I was hoping the 965 would have it and I’m being led to believe that the metal bezel on the 965 will allow this feature to be added at a future time. Is that a correct assumption on my part?

    • Unfortunately, Garmin confirmed the hardware needed for ECG/Afib is not in the FR965. One can validate this by seeing the lack of isolation ring around the optical HR sensor on the back, which the Venu 2 Plus has.

  19. BikePower

    I have the Epix 2 and on the most current version of the Garmin Connect Android app there is no “Training Load” section under “Performance Stats”. The only load information is found under Performance Stats -> Training Status -> Load, but that only shows acute load. Maybe chronic training load is iPhone only at the moment?

    • Hmm, it should be: Performance > Training Status > Load > Training Load > And then you’ll see Acute Load and Load Ratio – with Chronic Load shown along the bottom.

    • BikePower

      Ah, thanks, I found it. On Android it’s: Performance Stats > Training Status > Load > Acute Load, then you tap “Chronic Load” at the bottom of the “Acute Load” display (there’s no “Load Ratio” displayed though). Not very intuitive to look for Chronic Load in an Acute Load section though 🤔

  20. David Smoot

    another useless typo police:
    “extremally” should be “extremely”

    I can’t help myself, raised by an English teacher.

  21. Koen Miseur

    When I would upgrade my Garmin Fenix 6s Plus (man what mouthfull) I would go to the Forerunner version at that time (I’m still very happy with the Fenix 6s), when I bought by Fenix 6s, it was the only watch that combined offline music+maps+triathlon (not that I need the Triathlon now) features, now the Forerunner has those and is cheaper, so easy choice!

  22. Paul S.

    Does the 965 compute x-c ski power with the appropriate HR strap like the Epix?

  23. Lou F

    Bit of an oddball question, but how do text notifications look? I feel like the Epix did a terrible job and used super blocky fonts similar to the Fenix MIP screen, but looking at the Venu 2 plus with the same screen the fonts were more modern and used the screen more efficiently.

  24. Steve Roach

    I have the Fenix 6 and have it because of the glass and my job bumping into things. How are the glass fronts on these? I just don’t want any scratches and breaks from hitting something.

  25. Brian Reiter

    It certainly seems like there is significant duplication of effort in creating production firmware variants for different SKUs of closely related hardware.

    I cannot help but associate most of these oddities you uncovered as non-strategic side effects of the division structure at Garmin, separating fitness and outdoor into competing frenemies.

    It does not appear to be efficient as an outside observer. It reminds me of the old Microsoft cartoon where the divisions were holding guns to each other’s heads.

    • Yeah, I don’t think it’s quite as bad as people think (either Garmin, or Microsoft, where I worked for more than a decade).

      But at the same time, at some point, Garmin needs to find a way to standardize their OS. I have no problem with them having different features at different price points. That’s a simple reality of business, and even Apple does the same thing. After all, the Apple Watch Ultra has Precision Start, which is simply a software feature – despite Apple trying to convince people it somehow needs to be tied to an additional physical button (it doesn’t, obviously).

      There’s a ton of standardization going on behind the scenes at Garmin, be it Physio TrueUp, how they do beta’s, how they release firmware, etc… Even what features are available at certain price points is getting better. Again, way more than people realize.

      But ultimately, they really need to truly start using the same codebase. Today, it’s sorta-using. There’s no reason for these sorting and UI differences. At least not unless the FR965 represents the ‘new UI/new platform’ going forward and the Epix/Fenix teams adopt that. Then sure, maybe that’s the cutoff. I don’t know.

  26. RPJ12

    Great comparison! Thanks again! You mentioned the double tap to zoom works on the 955. I can’t get it to work. I’m on the newest firmware. I do have the “no routable maps” issue still though when trying to go to a saved location or go to a selected point. Curious if it’s happening on the 965 since they share the same software supposedly.

    • Ahh, sorry, I misunderstood. I meant tap to activate the touchscreen, not double-tap to zoom.

      I just checked again right now on both my FR955 and FR965 and both can route to a random point on the map (Navigation > Map > Select a point), as well as via Saved Locations. Both created the routes no problem, showed the line, upcoming turns, etc…

      Not sure why it doesn’t work for some people. In my case, I’m using the built-in TopoActive Maps.

  27. Hoot

    Thanks for the great review.
    I just received a 265 (965 still not available) and can compare it to my Epix. The screen and UI are so much nicer, but other then that, there is not much difference, so I am going to send it back and not making the change from Epix to FR. Initially I was disappointed so see that the “new and improved” Physio TrueUp wasn’t instantaneous but after 2 days it caught up and both watches display all the important stats.
    I still find it interesting/annoying that something like the JetLag Advisor is not on the new FR, at least the 965. Since you are a constant traveller, how good is it actually? In my last job I had to cross the pond almost every month once, so it would have been nice to have….but when you travel a lot, you find your own ways of coping with jetlag and if you are on a schedule and don’t have time/opportunity to follow the Jetlag Advisor, how helpful is it in real life??
    Going forward I wonder what Garmin has up its sleeves for a next gen Epix 3. Clearly the UI and possibly 3 different sizes (and a flashlight) but that will probably not sway too many people to go Epix 3 when they already own a 2. It will be interesting so see….and follow your blog.

    • Yeah, I don’t know why it’s not on the 965, given Garmin had specifically mentioned it was planned to eventually hit FR/Venu units. I’ll ask.

      As for accuracy/functionality, it’s actually pretty good. As you noted, I’ve got a boatload of travel experience, historically crossing the/a pond every week for work. And virtually all of its suggestions/observations are spot-on, and how it does things is pretty good. Some of the pre-trip stuff is maybe a bit over the top for the experienced traveller, but during/post-trip is good, especially upon landing.

      I found it struggled a bit with a double-ocean trip (across both Atlantic and Pacific in one week), where it kinda just gave-up and was like: “Look, this stupidity is on you.” And to be fair, there’s very little you can do once you hit that level of timezone shifting. You eventually are just along for the ride.

      But for straight-forward one-ocean type travel, it’s solid.

    • acousticbiker

      While on this topic, on Epix 11.28, I’ve begun to receive notifications with tips on caffeine, melatonin, and sleep timing while on a trip (and info available in the JLA Glance) even though I didn’t enter trip information into GCM.

      Any idea whether this is an attempt at being ‘smart’/proactive or a bug? No response in Garmin forums so far

    • Huh, interesting. I don’t think I’ve seen that. Then again, I don’t think I’ve taken any trips without entering it in.

    • Andre

      Hello DcRainmaker,
      Did you get an answer about the jet lag feature on the 965? Thank you

    • Andre

      Hello DCRainmaker, did you arrive to have an answer from Garmin?

    • NonRevGuy

      Hi Ray. Thanks for your thorough videos and writeups. Did Garmin ever say anything about Jetlag Advisor coming to Forerunner 965? I’m surprised it still hasn’t shown up in a software update.

  28. runner-33

    Wow, that’s incredibly detailed, thanks!

    A possible further difference: In the Fenix/Instinct the saved countdown timers are sorted by length (e.g. Instinct 2 but also Fenix 7s IIRC) while on Forerunners (like 255S) they show up in the order in which they were created. That’s such a minor thing that it’s barely worth mentioning, but on a Forerunner it can be quite frustrating to operate if you have a lot of timers.

    Also, on the Fenix 7s (which I’ve sold half a year ago) I could not swipe the stress graph on the widget to the left (it was static) while this was perfectly possible on the Venu 2s. Quite odd given the Fenix 7s is the more expensive watch. Might be a difference with the Epix/965 as well.

    One thing that buyers should keep in mind is the level of support after the watches have been superseded by the next model. For example, the Fenix 6 got some notable updates like HRV Status after the Fenix 7 release. While the 945 users got some minor updates after the release of the 955, but none of the headline features. As to be expected, a higher price also gives you longer support, this might be important for folks who don’t buy a new watch every 2 years anyway.

  29. Leo

    I can, obviously, live with hardware differences (for a different price)
    I can live with differences in features due to hardware differences.

    But feature/software/implementation differences due to different development teams… since I’m a software developer, it really hurts to so such a stupid organization, such a waste of development time, such a total FU in software quality.

  30. msquared

    Super informative post. About 7 grams weight difference is simply because 965 lacks QuickFit hardware.

    Here’s an even more WTF example of Garmin EPIX differences. Having thoroughly loved my Ti black EPIX for the past year of daily wear and daily activities, I became aware that a) I am bored with my all black watch b) EPIX remains Garmin’s best offering c) I hate money. So after trying for 6 months to custom order a new EPIX with raw Ti bezel and grey case that is perpetually out of stock (even once succeeding – placed the order, got confirmation email, then an hour later got a cancel message due to error in billing address … out of stock again!) I wound up buying the D2 Mach 1 Aviator. I am no pilot, but so what this is just a prettier version of the EPIX with a couple extra aviation features I won’t use.

    Turns out, even though the EPIX and D2M1 literally share the same firmware version #, the D2M1 has soooo many quirky firmware issues that I found that watch completely unsuitable for me and had to return it. I am NOT talking about the special aviation features (I don’t fly) I am talking about just BASIC day to day watch functionality which (supposedly) is identical to EPIX. I spent hours on the phone with Garmin support, sent them side-by-side videos of these quirks, their engineers replied “yep, we can reproduce that and we say it’s working as designed”. Yeah, sure Garmin: you designed D2M1 as a premium watch that goes so dim you can’t even read the time of day.

    • SG

      Ha, I am in almost the same situation. The Epix 2 hits the sweet spot in almost everything – fucntionality, form factor/size & weight, display, etc. But not a fan of the black color (had a FR945 and F6X Pro Solar in raw titanium before) not only because it looks cheap and boring (it can be spruced up with a lether strap for daily wear and colorful straps for sports use) but because dings and scractches are noticeable and ugly on the black bezel – and cannot be fixed. On the raw titanium it seems to add character and some scratches can be polished away.

  31. Marcos

    Hi Ray,

    I’ve mentioned a concern about water impact (like surfing ?) on the 965 once it is 50m vs 100m water proof rating of Epix.
    Could you please further elaborate?

    Thank you

    • I don’t have any practical concern there in terms of usage – and people have used 50m waters for many years without issues. Rather, it’s I suspect why Garmin drew the line in the sand as a 100m watch for those sports.

    • Robert

      Maybe I misunderstand you, but with surfing [or swimming] you won’t go 50m deep?

    • RobertB

      Somebody with a science background would probably explain it better. If two cars travelling at 30mph have a head on crash the closing speed is 60mph. If your carrying good speed on your board, you’ll likely expose the watches buttons/seals to far greater pressure change, particularly the buttons on the side hitting the water first at high speed than would be experienced at 50m doing a gentle snorkel

    • “Maybe I misunderstand you, but with surfing [or swimming] you won’t go 50m deep?”

      If I go surfing and end up 50m underwater, the health of the watch is probably the least of my problems. ;)

      But yes, from a pressure standpoint, going 50m without an impact is actually pretty tame. I’ve tested/demonstrated this a bunch in my waterproofing test chamber – no watch has ever failed, even ones rated far less. However, going 30mph and then hitting the surface of the water forces in water to the buttons/etc far more than sustained pressure going down.

  32. Michael

    Hey Ray, thank you for your incredible work. Referring to your list of sports modes different homepages say that there is beside Indoor and floor climbing also an Outdoor climbing mode on the 965. So climb should not be an additional sports mode on the Epix. But I don’t know what’s on the 965, yet. ;-)

  33. Robert Steib

    Thanks for the comparison. My second Forerunner 735xt recently went to heaven, so I’m looking for a replacement. The different models from Garmin are confusing and trying to determine which will do everything I want while being reasonably low cost is more frustrating than trying to get along with the ex.

  34. Luke

    The other difference I assume is not tides glance that was recently added to Epix2/Fenix series.
    I wish they would add that to the Forerunner series. Workaround for now could be to use the garmin watchfacebuilder which has tide graph support.

  35. Lasombra

    Isn’t the Forerunner 965 also lacking Power Modes at the moment? I couldn’t find any info in the Forerunner 965’s manual. Power Modes make activity specific display settings (AOD/gesture mode) possible and that’s a big miss for the 965.

    • Yup, they’re covered in the Sports Mode section/table, at the end of the table under the “Battery:” mode headings.

    • Robert Dunne

      Re: Wife’s saddle. It seems to be a Selle Italia SLR Flow. The models have changed over the subsequent 10 years with addition of carbon etc. The specs on Selle Italia should be ok so you can get a replacement at various different price points.
      Best wishes,

    • Lasombra


  36. Jim Macaluso

    Will the new UI be coming to the Epix?

  37. Stefan

    The Forerunner 965 is finally a successor worth buying it, after 3 years of Fenix 6. The display resolution has been increased and touch is now well implemented. Especially for map navigation, I have missed this feature since the introduction of the Fenix 7.

    Thanks Ray for highlighting these differences. I am a big fan of your informative and straightforward content.

  38. Patrik

    What is the “advanced open repeats interval running feature”?

  39. Gerry

    Will the 955 also get the Next Fork Fuction?

  40. Brian

    Your ppi calculation is incorrect. It is simply 1.4″ / 454 = 324. It looks like you are calculating the hypotenuse and dividing that by 1.4. Since it is round, and the height and width (max pixel dimensions) are the diameter, you just have to divide the pixel axis dimension by the diameter dimension.

  41. Striff

    Looks like the insert bezel is just as big as the Epix?
    Biggest annoying thing for me.
    So much real estate taken up by dead space.
    Wish both screens went to the edge like an apostle watch.
    (I have the Epix)

  42. Tom Keffer

    Unfortunately last July 2022, I was in a pretty serious ultralight crash. Spending over 100+ days in the hospital. In that crash I had a Garmin GPSmap 60Cx clipped to my seat. Needless to say, when I hit the ground it was dislodged and it took a hard hit, apparently damaging the internal components.
    In short since Garmin Company is no longer making the 60Cx, they no longer accept it for repair. What I need is the name and contact information for a repair facility that I can send it to and have it repaired. Can you help me out? Thank you

    • Hi Tom – sorry to hear that, that sucks. Glad though that you did exit the hospital.

      On the unit side, that’s odd that Garmin says they can’t accept it for repair. That’s kinda their whole thing in life, that they’ll always provide support/repairs for crazy old units. I’d call back again and ask, as if that were the case they should have offered either a refurb option or sometimes a buy-up option.

      Ultimately, I don’t know any non-Garmin repair facilities, unfortunately. Especially for that product line. But I’d call back again and see if you get someone different.


  43. Dave

    Can you setup 965 (when not in an activity) have the screen off unless you press a button? (like the light button)?

    • Yup, if you:

      1) Go into Display Settings, then General use, then turn off Always-On (if not already on default off)
      2) Then go down to ‘Gesture’ and turn that off too (which is not the default).

      I just tried it, the screen is now off, and stays off no matter how much I swing my arms/raise my wrist/etc… It will only turn on if I press a button, or physically tap the screen.

    • DAVE

      Awesome cheers dude!

  44. Kristian

    Do you know if the 965 can connect with the Alpha Gps and dog tracker, as Fenix/Epix can?

  45. Nathn

    No mention about the running dynamics that the 965 and 265 have but the Epix still does not.
    Will all the Running Dynamics of the Forerunners just released come to the Epix and Fenix…?

  46. Jan

    Hi Ray,

    On the Epix, the stress widget only shows the stress values of the last 4 hours. There is no way to get data on the watch farther into the past. Hence, it is not possible to get an overview of the stress during a whole night of sleep. This really annoys me.

    How is it on the 965? Does the 965 show more than 4 hours of stress? Can you scroll into the past to see more data?


    • Ryan M.

      955 added tap to scroll to go backwards a few months back. I thought that was already on the Epix?

    • Jan

      How does it work, tap to scroll? Could you show that in a video?

    • Correct, it works, you can just swipe backwards to see previous times. Just validated/tried it.

    • Jan

      That’s great to hear that one can swipe backwards in time in the stress widget on the 965. Thanks for confirming.

      It is really annoying that the Epix can’t do that, for a watch that costs $1000!

      On the Epix, there are only three widgets that behave like the stress widget on the 965 (show 4 hours of data and can be swiped backwards 24 hours): heart rate, temperature and altitude.

      The other widgets are really inconsistent in this respect:

      For air pressure, it shows the last 24 hours and the graph can be scrolled back and forth in time, even up to 36 hours back.

      For pulse ox, it shows the last 24 hours and the graph cannot be scrolled.

      For steps and floors, it shows the last 12 hours and the graph cannot be scrolled.

      For intensity minutes and body battery, it shows the values since midnight and the graph cannot be scrolled.

      For respiratory rate and calories, there is no graph at all.

      Is it as inconsistent on the 965 or do all widgets behave like the stress widget?


  47. Mark N

    Hi Ray, any recommendation for a screen protector for the 965?

    • RPJ

      This 955 screen protector fits and will do the job.

      iDaPro [4 Pack] Screen Protector for Garmin Forerunner 955/955 Solar Smartwatch + Silicone Anti-dust Plugs Tempered Glass Anti-Scratch Bubble-Free link to a.co

  48. Jacek

    Is the 965 as delicate as it looks? I need it mainly for squash and cycling, sometimes for hiking in the mountains. Will the 965 withstand a wall hit or a hard bike ride over rocks? My current Fenix 5 Plus is doing great with it, but it’s time for a change :)

  49. I am 50+ reading glasses wearer, and I prefer UI of Forerunner: cleaner font choices, sharper map. And I prefer lighter weight, especially if wear 24/7. Unfortunately Apple Watch battery needs recharge daily, otherwise Garmin cannot compete.

    I need it primarily for maps and travel… all the rest functionality provided by Apple Watch + Athletyc AI and many other apps. So then better to buy handheld device…

  50. Jenn

    Hey Ray! Were you hoping to add the 265 series and 965 to the Product comparison chart? I use that thing all the time. I love it!

    Thanks in advance for your time!

  51. Dave

    Thank you for the great video. Excellent and thorough comparison. I have two questions, isn’t the stock watch face changeable, so this really isn’t an issue? And secondly, how much of a difference makes the sapphire glass on the Epix? I am someone who wears my Garmin every day and on every activity.

  52. James

    I am finding that the Epic 2 is quite heavy in the wrists, which makes it move around to the top of my wrist (back of my forearm) a little when running. This means I have to rotate my wrist further making it harder to see the info or ‘wrist gesture’ the display on.

    Does the lighter 965 solve this issue?

  53. Graham

    Since the Epix Pro announcement I’ve seen some retailers selling the non-Pro Epix Sapphire for the same price as the Forerunner 965. That would probably tip me towards the Epix unless the Forerunner price is going to drop anytime soon?

    • James

      I have the Epix 2
      Just be aware that it is quite heavy on the wrist. Not a problem for actual weight on your arm. But if, like me, you have a bonier wrist, it can mean the watch tends to slide around the wrist slightly, making it marginally harder to see the watch face. The Forerunner is something like 2/3 of the weight.

    • Graham

      Hi James. I did buy an Epix but nearly sent it back. I also have boney wrists and found the Quickfit strap was really uncomfortable. I’ve had three other Garmins which have all been fine. The problem is that the Quickfit strap is very hard where it is attached to the watch and rather than wrapping around my wrist it dug in. No problem, I thought, I’ll just use a quick release strap. Except the pins are not removable. You can force them out but I wondered if it might void the warranty.

      In the end I found a nylon strap on Amazon which threads around the pin and it is so comfortable. It’s also very light and now my Epix is only about 10g heavier than my Forerunner 255. Very happy. Best Watch I’ve ever had.

    • James

      I had not thought of a fabric strap.
      I have an Epix 2. The watch comes with a quick release strap.
      Do you have the original Epix or Epix2?

    • Graham

      I have the one released last year, not the recently released pro. It comes with a Quickfit strap.

  54. Lourens

    Wish this came in the 42mm form factor. I might have to look at the fenix 7 pro now but will have to compare the size on my wrist in the shops. Either way nice upgrade from my 945

  55. Beth

    What about the difference in water rating? For the Forerunner 965 – open water swimming is 5 ATM enough?

    • James

      Yes, 5 ATM is to a depth of 50m. Which is a loooooong way down :)
      PADI Scuba certification is something like 18m
      Advanced PADI is something like 30m

  56. GW

    Do you ever notice that (at least with iOS) the epix allows you to see notifications with either touching the screen or wrist movement vs FR which only on wrist? Small, but insanely annoying difference that keeps me with the Epix unless you have a fix. Thanks!

  57. Chris G.

    Will I be able to connect, through bluetooth, to the mic and speakers within my motorcycle helmet to hear navigation directions?
    Will I be able to communicate with the watch (stop music, play music, stop navigation, start navigation) through the bluetooth mic.?
    TIA. ~Chris

  58. fernando

    In my country both(Epix gen2 sapphire titanium and Forerunner 965) have the same price(600dls), Which one should I choose for MTB and trekking mainly?

  59. Stefan

    I find a noticeable difference between the two models the use of hot keys. I used to have a Fenix 7 and I set a hot key for “Do not disturb”. I assume the same can be done on an Epix. But on the Forerunner 965 you cannot set a hot key for this. On Fenix/Epix models there are more options for hot keys compared to FR965. I think that is worth noticing, but I don’t see it mentioned in your review.

  60. Vincent

    Good comparison.

    PS #1: Is there a reason the 965 is not included yet in the “Product Comparison”-tool on this site?
    PS #2: Perhaps an update on the ECG options on the Epix? Or are those still rumours?

  61. 935 Pete

    With the recent discount on the Epix, it’s $10 cheaper than a 965. Trying to decide if support for windsurfing is more important than the dual-band support. Anyone have the single-band Epix and have any commentary about how accurate that GPS is on forest hikes/bikes/runs?

  62. lex


    Hoping to get some wisdom from the great crowd here. I’m a “triathlete” (although I haven’t done much triathlons in the last 2 years) but definitely run, bike and hike a lot. I’ve been a devoted user of forerunner series starting with 300series, moving to 600s and 900s, with last watch 935 which still is kicking and I have nothing bad to say about the performance.
    But, I started to look for a new toy and really like the 965 (amoled screen) with all new widgets. However, a few weeks back Amazon had a sale on Epic 2nd Gen Sapphire, which I picked up for $599 (same price as 965). I have not tried 965.

    And here is my conundrum. I’m a terrible shopper. Always question my purchases so I need some convincing/guidance/help.
    I’m holding the watch unworn, just playing with the interface for now.

    I know from Ray that Epix is done by one Garmin Division and Forerunners by other. This results in how watch feels when it works. Since both have pretty much identical guts inside.

    In your opinion, should I just keep it (price was good and watch is good) or go to Forerunner (since I always used it and it feels more sporty than adventurous?).

    Or, I just make things up and it all does not matter (probably).

    Throw some Pros and Cons at me. Please. Let me be influenced… So I regret my splurge less (you know I still have perfectly working 935 that ticks all the boxes for my needs)…

    Thanks for help and if I wasted your time, just ignore me.

    • Paul S.

      I own an Epix 2. I’ve never used (or maybe even seen) a Forerunner. My Garmin watches have been original Fenix, original Epix, Fenix 5+, and a couple of months ago the Epix 2. I use them for cross country skiing and hiking. (For cycling, I use an Edge, currently an Edge 1040. Watches are carried in the wrong place and too small for cycling.) My impression these days from reading/watching reviews here and elsewhere is that the high end Forerunner is simply a Fenix in a plastic case, that there’s nothing any can do that the others can’t, and that the UI is virtually the same if not exactly identical. Choosing between Forerunner/Fenix/Epix is simply a choice between case material, screen, and battery life. So if I were you, I’d keep the Epix. I’ve only used my Epix 2 for activities a couple of times, but it pairs with everything I have, including my e-bike and Varia radar, and has worked well the times I’ve recorded with it (mostly ignoring it, since I was also recording with my 1040)

    • lex

      Thanks Paul.

  63. floris van drunen


    I recently switched from the Fenix 7s Sapphire (almost identical to the epix 2 42mm) to the Forerunner 965 and I feel like the Forerunner 965 is hell of a lot slower with calculating routes in navigation modes.
    Could you verify if that’s the case? I cannot find it anywhere, but I would be surprised if there’s no difference between the processors of the FR965 vs Epix 2/Fenix 7

    • Indy

      I’ve found the same, f6p is faster than the 965. Maybe it’s all the UI gloss running in the background using up some cpu cycles?

  64. Marco

    They look so similar in size but they should have 3mm difference. Can you prove that the 965 has 47mm in size? The epix should have 51mm.