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Garmin Forerunner 965 In-Depth Review: Now with AMOLED Display!

Garmin has just announced two new watches – the Forerunner 965 (this review), and the Forerunner 265/265S (full review here!), both multisport watches and both equipped with swanky AMOLED displays. This nearly completes Garmin’s equipping of different watch lineups with fancier AMOLED displays, as last year we saw them introduce the Epix series (a Fenix 7 variant), and the year prior the Venu 2 series (a more mass market watch). Of course, the key difference between what Garmin does here and what other companies have done with AMOLED displays comes down to battery life – with Garmin’s variants typically lasting orders of magnitude longer than most. But more on that later in the review.

In addition to the display, the new Forerunner 965 adds wrist-based native running dynamics (plus the wrist-based running power recently introduced on the Forerunner 955), as well as new training load metrics around Chronic Training Load and Training Load Ratio. These metrics essentially compare your recent training load to your longer-term training load. And the best new feature? Perhaps just the new Garmin USB-C charging cable. Sure, it’s still using the same tried and trueish Garmin charging connector on the watch side, but at least the box now includes the USB-C variant of it.

As usual, I’ve been putting the Forerunner 965 (and Forerunner 265) through their paces – with swims, runs, rides – all indoors and outdoors, and then daily 24×7 usage as well. All in the pursuit of seeing how well these watches actually work for both daily endurance sports training and day-to-day usage.

Garmin sent over media loaners to test out. As usual, this review is not sponsored (nor does any company get to preview anything I review), and I don’t take any advertiser money from any companies I review. Once this unit goes back, I’ll go out and buy my own for any future testing needs. If you found this review useful, you can use the links at the bottom, or consider becoming a DCR Supporter which makes the site ad-free, while also getting access to a mostly weekly video series behind the scenes of the DCR Cave. And, of course, it makes you awesome.

What’s New:


In most ways, the Forerunner 965 is essentially an AMOLED display version of the Garmin Forerunner 955 (released just 9 months ago). In fact, even some of the new software features of the Forerunner 965 are already slated to arrive on the Forerunner 955 (and some have somewhat accidentally already arrived in the past few weeks via Garmin Connect online). In other words, the Forerunner 965 and Forerunner 955 will reach parity within the next quarter, but, when asked whether that would remain the case going forward (in effect having an AMOLED and non-AMOLED version of the same watch), Garmin was less confident. They said that for the meantime that was going to be the case, but longer term they’d probably diverge.

In any event, here’s what’s new/different on the Forerunner 965 compared to the Forerunner 955 series:

– Changed to always-on AMOLED display (more vibrant colors/brightness/etc.)
– Increased size of display from 1.3” to 1.4” (case size remains the same, as bezel thickness decreases)
– Case size remains the same at 47mm for both FR955 and FR965
– Watch thickness decreases by 1.2mm (from 14.4mm to 13.2mm)
– Display resolution increases from 260x260px to 454x454px
– Increased detail in maps at higher zoom levels
– Weight is 53g for FR965 vs 52g for FR955 Solar
– Lens material is Gorilla Glass 3 (previously was Corning Gorilla Glass DX)
– Added Titanium bezel (previously was plastic)
– Switched to USB-C Garmin charging cable (same watch port design as previous)
– Added new Training Load Ratio feature (coming to FR955/Fenix 7 series shortly)
– Added Chronic Training Load feature (also now available for FR955/Fenix 7 series on Garmin Connect app)
– Added built-in Running Dynamics (e.g., Vertical Ratio, Ground Contact Time, etc…) without any sensor
– Revamped user interface to sorta-match the Garmin Epix AMOLED units
– Fully supports Physio TrueUp 2.0 (Unified Training Status, albeit now so does Forerunner 955)
– Price is $599 vs $499 for Forerunner 955 base and $599 for Forerunner 955 Solar
– Battery life changes per below
– No solar edition of FR965
– No ECG hardware internally

Now, in addition to this, Garmin also announced the new Forerunner 265, which is also an AMOLED display version of the existing Forerunner 255. That in and of itself is a major update, but most notable is that the Forerunner 265 now gets Training Readiness, which is essentially Garmin’s top-end umbrella training load/recovery/status feature that pulls in components like sleep, stress, training load, recovery, HRV status, and more into one cohesive picture. It was first rolled out last June with the Forerunner 955, then became available on the Fenix 7/etc series. The Forerunner 265 having it makes it the ‘least expensive’ watch to get it. The Forerunner 265 (like the FR255) is a full multisport watch, complete with power meter sensor compatibility and more.

This then invariably brings up the question of how does the Forerunner 265 vs the Forerunner 965 differ? Here are the high-level differences (keep in mind that there are a ton of minor differences, for example courses/routing itself has a massive number of sub-features):

– Forerunner 955/965 has full maps, the Forerunner 255/265 does not (both can follow courses)
– Forerunner 965 has a 1.4” AMOLED display, whereas Forerunner 265 has a 1.3” display with 1.1” for 265S
– Forerunner 955/965 supports recording Garmin Cycling Dynamics power meter metrics, the Forerunner 255/265 does not (oddly Instinct 2 does record these…)
– Forerunner 955/965 has ‘Stamina’ data field during workouts for longer-duration pacing, FR255/265 does not
– Forerunner 955/965 have ClimbPro features, the Forerunner 255/265 do not
– Forerunner 955/965 have a slate of map-dependent navigation/routing features, the Forerunner 255/265 do not
– Forerunner 955/965 have navigation Next Fork feature, the Forerunner 255/265 do not
– Forerunner 965 has Training Load Ratio and Chronic Load, the Forerunner 255/265 do not
– Both the Forerunner 965 and Forerunner 265 have built-in wrist-based Running Dynamics (the FR955/FR255 will get via firmware update)
– Both have multiband GPS, including new ‘AutoSelect’ SatIQ mode
– Both have WiFi (assuming you get FR255 Music edition)
– Both have downloadable music (including Spotify/Deezer, and Amazon Music, plus MP3’s).
– Both have HRV status, SpO2 sensor, and all the same other daily activity tracking metrics
– Both have morning report, race widget, and daily suggested workouts
– Both have Garmin Pay, incident detection, and LiveTrack (with phone nearby)
– Both use the same standard Garmin charging port cable
– GPS mode battery life of FR965 is stated as up to 31 hours, FR265 GPS mode life is stated as up to 24 hours, and FR265S at 20 hours
– Smartwatch battery life of FR965 is stated as 23 days, FR265 smartwatch mode is 13 days, and FR265S at 15 days
– Forerunner 965 is priced at $599, Forerunner 265 is priced at $449

Now, for lack of anywhere else to stick it at the moment (till I finish re-0doing unboxing photos), here are some pictures of my wife and I with a slate of watches showing wrist sizing. My wrist size is 17cm (or about 6.5 inches), and I’m 6’2”/188cm tall. My wife has a wrist size of 14cm (or 5.5 inches) and is 5’2”/158cm tall. The watches here are here Fenix 7S Solar Sapphire, my Epix (Gen2), and the Forerunner 965, Forerunner 265, and Forerunner 265S.

Phew, got all that? Let’s start using the watch.

The Basics:

In this section, I’m going to dive into all of the basic features of the watch. This includes things like the display (battery life, touchscreen, etc…), as well as all the daily fitness aspects like sleep tracking, activity tracking, other health metrics, etc… Further, I’ll dive into bits like smartphone integration (notifications), and more. Whereas the next section (Sports Usage) covers all the workout bits, and then the section after that (Training Metrics) dives into pieces like Training Readiness, Load Ratio, and more.

Further, I also cover all of this in the complete beginner’s guide video you’ll find just above. That’s a long-form video where I slowly iterate through each of the features of the Forerunner 965, one piece after another.

With that, let’s begin with the hardware. The Forerunner 965 has five buttons, like most Garmin sport watches. Three buttons on the left side, which are mainly used for navigating menus. And then two more buttons on the right side, which are mainly used for confirmation and back/escape (plus starting/stopping). You can also long-hold any of these buttons for further functions, including the ability to assign quick-access buttons.

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As a general rule of thumb, when comparing the Forerunner 955 and Forerunner 965, the answer is almost always gonna be the same. About the only software feature area these two watches differ is around the display. At least for now. Both have touchscreens, and when it comes to touchscreen usage, the Forerunner 965 keeps the Garmin sports watch mantra of “Use it if you want, don’t if you don’t”. Meaning, every single function on the Forerunner 965 can be completed via buttons instead of the touchscreen. You can literally disable the touchscreen if you want – with no impact to features. Inversely, if you’re all about touch, you can do almost everything via touch (except starting/stopping a workout and hitting the lap button).


By default, virtually all sport profiles have touch disabled (during a workout). This means you can either enable it across the board during workouts, or you can individually enable it on a specific sport profile. There’s a minor nuance in differences in that on the Fenix 7/Epix series you can also disable it within just sleep too, but that doesn’t appear to be an option here at this time (a trait carried over from the FR955). To be clear, there’s still nightly do-not-disturb mode and such, just not the more advanced sleep-related display settings as found on the Fenix 7/Epix. I don’t know why – it’s one of the many inconsistencies/differences between the platforms. Practically speaking though, it just didn’t matter to me, as once in sleep-mode, your touches won’t trigger it anyway (sleep mode can be automatically triggered based on time, or manually – the point is to reduce brightness – just like other watch companies do.


Just to see side by side the differences in display quality, here’s the Forerunner 955 Solar at left, and Forerunner 965 AMOLED at right:


And for better or worse, my testing this last week has been in a bright/sunny/hot locale – and I can say there are absolutely zero issues seeing the display using the default settings in bright sun conditions (once you turn/raise your wrist). Just as there were no issues with Epix either for the past year and that AMOLED display, in either bright or dark conditions. The single exception to this is if your wrist is off-axis (such as lower on the handlebars), it can be trickier to see, though frankly, that’s also true of MIP watches.

Here’s a set of photos side-by-side in direct sun on both the MIP-based FR955 (left), and AMOLED-based Forerunner 965 (right). You can see the shimmer of sun on the bezel. You can tap to expand any of them.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. First up is the watch face. As with all Garmin watches, this is fully customizable – in two rough categories. First is a bunch of stock watch faces on the unit that you can choose from, and then individually customize each component (e.g., data fields/complications, coloring, styling, etc…). And then the second way is via Garmin’s Connect IQ app store, which includes boatloads of watch faces. You can also create your own watch face with pictures/photos if you want to.


Here’s the Garmin Connect IQ app store, which has a variety of watch faces you can choose from. Typically speaking on launch day, the number of watch faces that are marked as compatible with the new watch is low, and then over the coming days and weeks it balloons, and developers mark their watch face as compatible/compliant. You can also create your own watch faces using photos from your phone album.

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Next, we’ll swipe or button down to the widget glances. These are basically little snippets of data from umpteen different categories. You can customize which widgets are shown, the order they’re shown, and even download 3rd party widgets. You can also create folders for them too, of your own naming accord. The idea is glanceable bits of information that you can then tap into (or button into) to see more data about that particular item.


For example, if you tap on the steps one you’ll see more details about steps, including 7-day distance and total trends:

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All of this data is concurrently synced to the Garmin Connect platform (which is both a website and the Garmin Connect Mobile app). Here you can analyze it even further, digging into whatever granularity level you want. Sure, sometimes the app is a bit confusing when you’re first starting, given the amount of data that’s there, but in most ways it’s only as complex as you make it. There’s no watch app out there that provides anywhere near as much data as Garmin does (or any watch that provides that much data). Whether or not that can be overwhelming is a different story.

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For literally every metric that you can imagine, Garmin lets you dive into the details of it. From heart rate tracking to breathing rate, to functional threshold power and chronic training load. There are still occasional inconsistencies though. For example, why can I only plot my sleep in 1-day/7-day chunks, yet every other metric in 1-day/7-day/4-week/1-year chunks (including the related Sleep Score)? But these quirks are minor in the grand scheme of things.

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Many of these metrics are derived from data captured by the optical heart rate sensor located on the bottom of the Forerunner 965. This optical HR sensor is powered on 24×7, constantly logging data well beyond just your heart rate. This includes things like calculating breathing rate, HRV, or even blood oxygenation levels (if enabled). The Forerunner 965 uses Garmin’s Elevate V4 sensor (same as on the Fenix 7/Epix/FR955/FR265/FR255/Venu 2 series).  The green light is for regular heart rate recordings, while the red light is for blood oxygenation levels (Garmin calls this Pulse Ox):


Unfortunately, despite Garmin introducing ECG on the Venu 2 Plus series a few weeks ago, there is no ECG hardware in the Forerunner 965. This is both confirmed by Garmin, as well as simply obvious by looking at the bottom of the unit. It lacks the isolating ring around the optical HR sensor, which is required for an ECG.

Beyond obvious metrics like heart rate or breathing rate, there’s a slew of algorithmic metrics. These are things that are unique to Garmin (or, at least Firstbeat, the company which Garmin acquired that develops algorithms but still licenses them to other companies). For example, one is Body Battery. Body Battery is basically your energy level. You recharge it every night, and then decrease it during the day, or during periods of relaxation (like sitting on the couch watching TV). However, with the Forerunner 965 there’s also Training Readiness, which is aimed at figuring out if you should train (or, to what intensity).

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Here’s a better way to think of it: Use Body Battery on vacation to see the impacts of your day when you don’t care about training. Whereas, use Training Readiness when you are trying to get workouts in. Training Readiness is much broader in the inputs it accounts for (sleep/workouts/stress), whereas Body Battery really only cares about that single daytime slice. Again, tons more later on this in the ‘Training Metrics’ section.

Speaking of sleep, the Forerunner 965 will automatically track your sleep metrics each night. This is roughly grouped into three camps. First is how much time you sleep, the second is your sleep phases (e.g., REM/Deep/Light/Awake), and the third is your Sleep Score. That Sleep score attempts to take those first two camps and give you a graded score for your night (1-100).

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In my testing, the sleep times are usually quite accurate (within a few minutes of when I fell asleep/woke up). However, the sleep phases and sleep scores are kinda all over the map. For example, when wearing the Forerunner 965 on one wrist, and the Forerunner 265 on the other wrist, I’ve gotten vastly different sleep scores and sleep phases. That’s because the sleep phases are different, which throws off the sleep scores. And while this might sound like a Garmin-only problem, the reality is most wearables suck at sleep phases. Complicating matters is that there isn’t even a reliable way to validate this data. If I look at the viable home options to compare sleep stages/phases in terms of accuracy, those devices aren’t that accurate by themselves (only about 80% accurate). We’d never accept comparing other features like optical HR accuracy to an “80% accurate chest strap”, so I won’t accept doing so here.

Meanwhile, the Forerunner 965 includes HRV tracking, like the Forerunner 955 before it. HRV is measured constantly through the night. Garmin takes constant readings, and then displays them in 5-minute increments within the HRV timeline graph shown. That chart also shows your max values for the night. It’s 100% normal that there’s this much fluctuation in it, as your values are often tied to different sleep phases.


(Fun Tidbit: That crazy 116 spike? Likely an artifact when the world’s loudest fire alarm went off in the middle of the night and I nearly crapped the bed.)

However, this is just the first snippet – and is the nightly HRV values. These are interesting, but not as useful as plotting it over time. So that’s where Garmin’s HRV Status feature comes in. This requires 19 nights of data before it starts tracking, as it’ll establish your baseline. That baseline is unique to you, and will shift slowly over time on a 90-day rolling window. The general gist is that if you’re within your green zone, it’ll show ‘Balanced’, but then you can become unbalanced over time (either high or low).


Keep in mind that a single ‘bad night of data (such as after heavy drinking), won’t immediately impact your HRV Status. It’s not supposed to. Neither should a heavy training weekend. Instead, you’ll see the dip reflected on your trending charts. But sick for a week with a low HRV value? That’ll probably do the trick. But again, that’s kinda the point. As for the accuracy of the underlying data, back in my Forerunner 955 review, I compared the HRV data to a Polar H10 chest strap, and found it very similar:

DSC_0766 PolarH10-HRV

(Above is a very rough visual comparison between a Polar H10 worn throughout the night and the Garmin FR955. I say ‘rough’ because to begin, the SDNN isn’t exactly the same as what Garmin records as SDRR, as Garmin’s is error corrected. Second, the scales aren’t the same here. Further, trying to get a chest strap to have good connectivity the entire night isn’t actually super easy. So in the same way that sleeping on your side/wrist can impact wrist values, so can movement where the strap might not be perfectly placed at some random point in the morning. Nonetheless, the averages recorded are within 2ms. The Polar’s average for the night was 52ms, while the Garmin’s was 54ms. If I can find better ways to get the data out of Garmin’s platform, I can look to do other comparisons.)

The Forerunner 965 uses the same exact sensor/algorithms/etc as the Forerunner 955.

Moving along, one favored feature introduced last year is Garmin’s Morning Report. This watch overlay appears when you wake up each morning, and shows a small collection of relevant data for the day ahead. It includes HRV Status, Training Readiness, Sleep, planned workouts, the weather, and more. You can customize this with which data you want, or disable it entirely. Though, it’s probably one of my favorite features:


You can start to see little bits of the UI redesign here in the Morning Report. Even clever things like on a foggy morning, actually showing fog on the back of the morning report ‘welcome’ screen. Here above is a photo taken outside showing the fog in the trees matching the fog on the watch.

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It’ll also do things like wish you a happy birthday, good luck for a planned race, and a number of other things throughout the year. In fact, notably, if you do have a planned race, it’ll hide Training Status/Readiness components from you that morning (in the morning report). The idea being that seeing that data (if bad) won’t change your race any – it’ll just potentially discourage you.


Now, we’re gonna start to round home here on a few features and go back towards more of the smartphone-related features. First up is smartphone notifications. These show incoming notifications from your phone, as you’ve configured by your phone. Garmin has gotten much better in the last year or two with emoji, now showing most of them. Note that with an iOS device, you can’t reply to these notifications, due to limitations imposed by Apple. You can dismiss them though.


Meanwhile, the watch supports both Garmin Pay & offline music. At this point both of these features are pretty much mainstream across many of Garmin’s watches. For the music side, you can add offline music from Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer – as well as MP3s and podcasts (though frankly, it’s way easier/faster to do podcasts via Spotify offline on the Garmin watches).

Whereas for the Garmin Pay contactless payments, you can load credit cards from any number of different banks. There’s a huge list of them here. In short though, for the US you’re pretty well covered, whereas for the rest of the world, it’ll vary quite a bit. It’s kinda hit or miss. Once you’ve got it loaded though, you can simply tap the watch against a NFC/contactless payment terminal to pay wirelessly.

Lastly, we get to the charging/battery elements. In this case, you’ll charge via the new USB-C Garmin charging cable included in the box. This is the same Garmin charging connector as before, except the other end of the cable is USB-C. There is no wireless charging here.


Charging times for me last night before bed from 10% to 90% were about an hour, which is on par with the Garmin Forerunner 955 – and pretty much on the better side of things (compare that to a Garmin Fenix/Epix unit that takes nearly two hours).

Inversely, when it comes to real-world battery life, things are a bit messy depending on whether or not you have always-on display enabled. In my case, all of my testing was with the always-on display enabled. First though, here’s the official battery specs:

Forerunner 965 Official Battery Specs:

Smartwatch mode: Up to 23 days
GPS-only mode without music: Up to 31 hours
SatIQ (AutoSelect) GNSS mode: Up to 22 hours
All-Systems GNSS mode + Multi-Band: Up to 19 hours
GPS-Only GNSS mode with music: Up to 10.5 hours
SatIQ (AutoSelect) GNSS mode with music: Up to 9.5 hours
All-Systems GNSS mode + Multi-Band with music: Up to 8.5 hours

(Updated note: I’m leaving this next section as-is from initial publication, but have included an update a few paragraphs below) As you can see, there is no always-on display battery spec/metric at this time for the Forerunner 965. Instead, a rough guide would be 1/3rd to 1/2 of the smartwatch mode metric. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting anywhere near that for smartwatch usage. GPS-usage was more than fine, equaling or exceeding the run times for the SatIQ option I was using.

But that didn’t explain why I was burning through battery in less than three days with always-on enabled (and also sleep-mode enabled at night). In doing a bunch of digging, Garmin decided something was dorked-up with my first unit, and so they sent over another unit. I just received that earlier today, so I haven’t had time to gather much data yet. However, in place of that, my friend and fellow reviewer DesFit has had far better luck using near identical settings to me. In this case, with always-on display enabled, and about 6 hours of outdoor GPS time (including power meter sensor connectivity), he’s seeing about 6.5-7 days of battery life. That’s more in line with what I’d expect, and Garmin would expect. And would be in the rough ballpark of what I’ve seen on the Garmin Epix (closer to 5ish days), which is of course now year-old tech, but to give a general gist of things. Meanwhile, the FR265 unit I’m using seems in the ballpark of what Garmin would expect for always-on display usage, and on the GPS side, I’m actually well above spec (in a good way), which is nice to see.

I’ll keep testing and report back/update here once I’ve got a few more days on the replacement unit.

Update time! This second unit now performs as expected, and matches near-perfectly to what DesFit saw. For example, here’s one 6-day period, on a single charge, using default brightness/etc settings and always-on display enabled:

  1. Charged to 100% on Thursday, March 9th at 8PM
  2. I then did a boatload of workouts:

Friday: 40-minute run (GPS/optical HR)
Saturday: 90-minute trainer ride (inside/optical HR)
Monday: 60-minute trainer ride (inside/optical HR)
Tuesday: 70-minute run (GPS/optical HR/structured workout enabled)
Wednesday: 3hr 10min ride (GPS/optical HR/power meter)

3. I ended the ride at 7%, and got down to 5% by 9PM on Wednesday (6 full days later). That’s in total 7.5hrs of workouts over 6 days, of which 6 hours was outdoor workouts with SatIQ enabled.

I then topped off the battery again, for a run the next day:

Thursday: 2hr 22min run (GPS/optical HR/navigation enabled)

From a purely workout battery burn standpoint, the average battery burn on a few types of workouts were:

90-min trainer ride (optical HR): 1.33%/hour for an estimated 75.00hrs capacity
2hr+ run (GPS/optical HR/navigation): 3.23%/hour for an estimated 30.95hrs capacity
3hr+ ride (power/GPS/optical HR): 3.61%/hour for an estimated 27.68hrs capacity

Obviously, weather/temperatures/etc will play a role here. These runs/rides were done with temps about 40-50*F outside (4-10*C). Typically colder temps reduce battery life.

In short, these numbers are pretty much where Garmin thinks they should be in an always-on configuration. Note that of course if you did purely indoor workouts it’d burn less, and inversely, if you just did one long workout (e.g. for a race), you’d be in good shape to do 20-30 hours non-stop (assuming a full charge). The day-to-day usage is what burns off your total workout potential.

Sports Usage:


Undoubtedly, if you’re buying a Garmin Forerunner watch, it’s for the sporting side. And if you’re buying this higher end FR965, it’s likely for endurance sports. In the case of the Forerunner 965, it has almost identical sports to the Fenix 7/Epix series, but there are a few exceptions. For example, you won’t find Windsurfing here (despite the lower-priced Instinct 2 series getting it a few weeks ago). But beyond that, almost everything is identical software-wise when it comes to sports. On the Fenix/Epix lineups, there are some slight differences in the mapping/navigation department, but more on that later on in the Mapping/Navigation Section.

The bigger aspect to understand is how many sport-related features tie it all together. Things like recovery and training load features, or functions like custom workouts or deep navigation options. And within all these areas, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of features. And there’s a strong likelihood you’ll never use 95% of them.

But the reality is you’ll use 1-5% of them, every single day. And which 1-5% you’ll use will vary wildly from person to person. I use sports features every day that others never use, and vice versa. It’s fundamentally why they lead this category. And perhaps more importantly, over the last few years, the software quality has increased substantially, largely through open firmware beta programs that go on for months.

In any case, to start a workout, you’ll go ahead and tap the upper right button, which brings up a list of sports. You can pin your favorite sports to the top of the list, making it easier to get to:


Here’s a complete list of the sport modes currently listed on the Forerunner 965 (some are technically not sports, but fall under sports modes in the Garmin world, like Map Manager):

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

Each of these sport profiles are customizable, be it things like the data pages and data fields, or the aspects like auto-lap or auto-pause, or even ancillary settings like ClimbPro (for hiking/running/cycling in the mountains/hills) or alert settings. Every sport has a slate of these that can be tweaked, and you’ve got two main ways you can tweak them. First, is on the watch itself, and second is on your smartphone.

The Forerunner 965 allows you to customize each of these from both the watch itself, as well as from the Garmin Connect Mobile smartphone app. About the only feature you can’t customize from the Garmin Connect Mobile app is the downloaded maps, or sensors. You have to do that either from the watch itself (maps & sensors), or from a computer (maps). But everything else is covered. You can do this via the device settings and then the activity type:

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The depth that you can go into here is just like on the watch, and the menu system loosely follows that too. Again, this is sorta Garmin’s thing in life – a million options. 99% of them you’ll never touch, but if that 1% feature is your favorite feature, then it’s the most important thing to you. That’s fundamentally why Garmin has done so well over the years – even if it’s sometimes at the expense of ease of use.

The Forerunner 965 supports 6 custom data fields per page, and has no meaningful limit on the number of custom pages you can create per sport profile. There are additionally various stock graphical pages and gauge pages, like heart rate gauges, or Stamina data pages, or a run power data gauge. It’s somewhat interesting that the slightly smaller display Epix (1.3” vs 1.4” on the FR965) allows 8 data fields per page. Again, another example of seemingly unnecessary inconsistencies between the Forerunner and Epix/Fenix product lineups.

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After you’ve spent half your day customizing your data pages (really, you don’t actually need to customize anything – you can just start a workout with the default pages Garmin has set up for each sport), you’ll see the GPS waiting screen. This screen shows the status of not just the GPS signal, but also any sensors you’ve got paired, as well as things like LiveTrack status (if your phone is nearby). Regular Garmin users probably are noticing this is a completely redesigned page.


At this point it may have offered you a Daily Suggested Workout (for Running/Cycling), or, if you had a structured workout pushed to it from platforms like Training Peaks, TrainerRoad, Garmin Connect Calendar, etc… it’ll show you those. The built-in daily suggested workouts are driven by the goal of making you faster via figuring out your current training load baseline. Alternatively, if you had loaded a race onto your calendar (running/cycling), it’ll give you a training schedule aimed towards that goal.


Once you either select one of those (or not, or create a manual interval workout, PacePro race plan, etc…), you’ll be off to the races. You can iterate through the data pages you’ve configured, such as those seen below with the Running Dynamics natively via the wrist:


One of those is the newish ‘Stamina’ data page. This was introduced last year with the Fenix 7/Epix units, and also was seen on the Forerunner 955. The general gist of it is that it aims to tell you how much juice you have left in the tank for this workout at this specific intensity. If you increase intensity, it’ll decrease your duration till death (in either distance or time). And if you decrease intensity, it’ll increase your duration till collapse.


Using the default Stamina page, the top portion of the page, titled Stamina, is your short-term potential. In other words, how much can you give right now at this second. This is the most notable one for intervals, because it’s going to go up and down. Whereas the middle-left one is your Potential, which is your long-term potential. How long can you maintain this interval workout for, or in an endurance event – how much gas is in the tank for the entire day. This will steadily decrease over the course of the workout.

But I actually prefer creating a new custom Stamina page that shows me the metrics in a more logical format, specifying exactly how much time/distance I have left, along with my current pace/HR (or power in cycling). Here you can see earlier in the workout:


You can also see this data afterwards in Garmin Connect as well:


In the case of steady-state workouts like above, the line tends to be pretty linear and slow-moving downwards. Whereas in interval workouts, you’ll see more fluctuations as you recover. However, only your short-term stamina recovers, not your long-term. That’s logical, because that’s how intervals work. You slow down to recover for the next one, but eventually you’ll run out of gas to do more repeats.

All of this is based off of a blend of your estimated VO2Max in conjunction with aspects of Body Battery and recovery from the previous night.  As such, it’s moderately important to get at least a few good hard workouts in on the watch, so that it can approximate your VO2Max. Else, the data will mostly fall apart.

Overall in my usage of the Stamina feature over the last 14 months or so, I find it generally pretty darn accurate. I’ve done 7-hour rides over the top of mountains and it’s ended up at exactly 1% at the end when I felt pretty exhausted/shot. And inversely, for even 60-90 minute sessions it’s done well at that range. I find it’s a bit trickier though at the shorter end (like 20-40 minutes). I wouldn’t try and use it to pace a 5KM race, but you might be able to get away with pacing a 10KM effort with it.

Now, switching topics a bit is running power. I’m not going to rehash running power here, or Garmin’s implementation of it. I’ve done that many times. All you really need to know is there is no standard in running power (across the industry), specifically in what is or isn’t included, and thus, different watch companies do it differently and arrive at different levels. Likewise, there’s no physiological reason for cycling power and running power to ‘match’. In fact, there’s a lot of good reasons for them not to match. But all that’s neither here nor there. What is here though is that the Forerunner 965 includes native wrist-based running power, which means no extra sensor is required. You just run, and it displays/records it:


If you want to turn this off, you can. Alternatively, if you want to use an external Garmin sensor, you can. Both of these are options in the settings. At this time it still doesn’t support external non-Garmin running power sources (such as Stryd), though Garmin has previously said they aren’t opposed to it (as they do so for cycling power just fine). You can still, of course, add the Stryd data field/app to it as you see fit, just like with past Garmin devices.


The main appeal to the Garmin native implementation is that it’s fully supported across things like structured workouts, data fields, and various other charts. That includes the following data fields you can add:

– Power
– Power Gauge
– Avg. Power
– Lap Power
– Last Lap Power
– Max. Power
– Power Zone

However, new to the Forerunner 965 is wrist-based Running Dynamics. Running Dynamics are things like Ground Contact Time and Vertical Oscillation. This previously required a Garmin external sensor like the HRM-PRO, HRM-RUN, HRM-TRI, or RD-POD. None of those are required anymore (though, you can still continue to use them as a data source). Instead, you’ll see the Running Dynamics data on the watch, as well as on Garmin Connect, without any such sensors – like below:


Down in the heart rate accuracy section, I dive into some comparison charts of how the wrist-based Running Dynamics looks versus the chest strap provided data sets (I stuck in the HR accuracy section, so as to not clutter up this section with more charts).

Frankly, all these years later and I’m still not super clear what I’m supposed to do with this data in terms of training or racing. But hey, at least it’s here now without needing to buy any external sensors. Undoubtedly Apple adding this natively to their watches last summer/fall played a (massive) hand in Garmin doing the same. There are still reasons to buy an HRM-PRO Plus HR strap, such as better swim heart rate tracking, or other metrics without a watch on your wrist. But for most people, those will be edge cases.

Speaking of sensors, the Forerunner 965 maintains the same list of sensors as the Forerunner 955, which is basically every ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart sensor type you’d ever want to pair to it. And even those that aren’t supported natively are supported via Connect IQ apps on the watch. For example, you can add Core body temperature sensor data field apps, or NIX hydration sensing apps, or aerodynamic cycling sensor apps, and so on. It’s again, a huge strength of the Garmin platform these days. But as for the native sensor list, here ya go:

eBike (ANT+), Extended Display (ANT+), External HR (ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart), Footpod (ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart), Headphones (Bluetooth), inReach (ANT+), Cycling Lights (ANT+), Muscle O2 (ANT+), Power (ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart), Cycling Radar (ANT+), RD Pod (ANT+), Shifting (ANT+), Shimano Di2 (Propriety ANT), Smart Trainer (ANT+), Speed/Cadence (ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart), Tempe (ANT+), VIRB (ANT+), Golf Club Sensors (Garmin)

As with before you can save multiple sensors of the same type, and give them custom names if you want. For example, I’ll name one bike’s power one thing, and another bike’s another thing, and so on.

Inversely, you can also broadcast your heart rate from the Forerunner 965 to 3rd party apps/devices, using standard ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart. For example, if you want to broadcast it to Zwift or Peloton, you can do that with the touch of a button. Likewise, you can broadcast it to your Garmin Edge device (or any bike computer). I’ve set up certain profiles (indoor cycling), for example, to automatically broadcast my HR, so I can pick it up on Zwift if I want to.


And in the case of running, you can also broadcast your running pace for indoor treadmill running (again, with Zwift).

Now, with all that working out done, you can save your workout. You’ll get a summary of the workout on the watch as a starting point, in a bunch of graphical pages:

Additionally, you can see even more data afterwards on Garmin Connect (app or website), like so:

Further, if you’ve got 3rd party apps like Strava or TrainingPeaks, you can configure your account to automatically forward the workout files to those apps, which shows about 1-2 seconds later (for real). It’s super easy, and is how I configure my accounts (in my case though, I also set my Strava to be ‘Private’ by default for all new activities, so I can update them later as I see fit).

So with our workout complete, let’s dive into the training load and recovery metrics – as that’s an entirely different ball of wax to deal with.

Training Load/Recovery Metrics:


With each successive Garmin device, the number of training load related metrics has increased. And the Forerunner 965 is no different, as it adds Training Load Ratio and Chronic Training Load. Thankfully, those two are relatively easy to explain. This is all atop the existing Training Readiness and Training Status (2.0) pieces that were added last year to the Forerunner 955.

There’s a lot to take in here, but in a nutshell, last year Garmin significantly revamped how Training Status, Training Load, and a slew of related metrics work. At first glance, you’d likely just see the new Training Readiness & HRV Status metrics and assume everything else was the same. But there were fundamental shifts to those metrics that try to lessen the chance you’re going to get an Unproductive message when you’re simply in a hard training block. And if we look at the success of that some 8 months or so later, most people would agree Training Readiness is a massive step forward, and arguably leads the industry in how to present endurance sports load/recovery data.

As with all training load/recovery algorithms or concepts, there are still edge cases and quirks. There always will be. This is no different than a coaching philosophy; there will always be different opinions on how to train.

First, though, we’ve got a couple of core concepts to explain briefly, and then in more depth in the rest of this section:

Training Readiness: This metric aims to be your one-stop shop to decide whether or not to train that day. It blends Sleep (vs both short and long-term history), Recovery Time, HRV Status, Acute Load, and Stress. In short, you can spike one category (badly) without necessarily killing your next training day. But all categories aren’t created equal.
Training Status: This is looking at your acute load, HRV status, load focus, and VO2Max trends. This one is less about should you train, and more about how you’re training. Meaning, are you doing too much high intensity, or too much low intensity? That’s what’ll give you an unproductive status. In other words, how would a coach look at your training log, ignoring most other life/feeling type metrics.
HRV Status: This is measuring your HRV values constantly while you sleep, and then comparing it against your 3-week baseline, up to a 90-day rolling window baseline. A single night of drinking doesn’t tank this score, but three nights of partying won’t keep you in the green.
Acute Load: This is looking at your last 7 days of load, except the load now burns off dynamically. Meaning, a hard training day 7 days ago is far less impactful to the score than a hard training day yesterday. Previously this was called 7-Day Load, now it’s Acute Load.
Chronic Load: This is looking at the last 28 days of history, albeit like Acute Load, it’s weighted too within the 7-day chunks. The easiest way to think of it is essentially looking at the averaging of those Acute Load pieces for each of the last 4 weeks individually.
Load Focus: This shows which categories your training efforts have fallen into, over the last 4 weeks. These include Anaerobic, High Aerobic, and Low Aerobic. Basically, you need to have an even training diet to get faster. Simply running hard/all-out every day won’t make you faster. It’ll just get you injured and slower.
Recovery Time: This calculates how much time you need till your next hard-intensity workout. As is often misconstrued, this isn’t till your next workout, just your next hard one. This is largely the same as before. Exceptionally good sleep can speed this up, and inversely, a high-stress day can slow this down.

There are many metrics here, arguably, too many. But setting aside the quantity of them, most of them do actually have a purpose, even if confusing. If I were stepping back and looking at which ones to focus on, it’d essentially just be the new Training Readiness status. Before diving into that though, I’ve previously covered HRV Status components in my Forerunner 955 review here, so that’s a good place to dive into that component.

The idea with Training Readiness is to take a bunch of components under one umbrella, and figure out how ‘ready’ you are to ‘train’ at that very second in the day. The value will shift throughout the day (higher if you do nothing, lower if you do a workout). The score is comprised of all the fellows you’ve seen before: Sleep, Recovery Time, HRV Status, Acute Load, Sleep History, and Stress History:

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Each of the components are weighted in varying ways, and against varying timeframes. Here’s the run-down:

Sleep: This one is specifically looking at last night’s sleep
– Recovery time: This looks at your Recovery time in hours (based on workouts, but can be sped-up with good recovery)
– HRV Status: This is comparing your 7-day trend versus historical trend
– Acute Load: This is looking at your 7-day trend, weighted towards newness
– Sleep History: This is looking at last night versus your prior 2 nights of sleep history
– Stress History: This is looking at the recent daytime data (excluding overnight readings)

Again, the idea here is that you can figure out what’s impacting your training readiness, and whether it’s expected. If you’re at a training camp, you’ll expect high Acute Load and likely high recovery time too. But hopefully, the other stats are normal/good. Thus, you can try and figure out whether to proceed or not. Whereas if everything is looking like a red dumpster fire, then you should probably train on the couch.

Now outside of sleep, the one I tend to look at the most is Acute Load. At first glance, you might think this is just 7-day Load renamed, but that doesn’t really cover what it actually does. Yes, it shows your 7-day load, but load burns off dynamically. In years past, if you had a big ride 6 days ago, that load would be factored into your total 7-day load duration as if it just happened yesterday. Versus with Acute Load, it’s weighted to burn-off within a few days, as logical. That’s because a week later it’s unlikely that big ride is still impacting you. The point of this is to reduce the massive swings that used to occur in the Training Status panel when a big workout from a week ago disappears, making you go instantly from Productive to Unproductive in a matter of seconds.

Here’s my acute load, and you can see how last week was an easy week, and this week is already higher as my workouts are longer/tougher. The green portion is my ‘tunnel’, which is basically my safe training load zone (high and low). Garmin’s UI rendering is a bit hard to see here, because my tunnel is so wide.


Now, that then plays into the new Forerunner 965 Chronic Load and Training Load Ratio. Your Chronic Load is simply the average of those 7-day chunks, but for the last 28 days. It helps figure out whether you’re ramping up too fast or not. Previously this was somewhat visible in a different way via the ‘4 Week Load Focus’ page, but in a different categorization of load types. Now it’s a simple gauge:


If the two numbers (Acute and Chronic) matched exactly, that’d be 1.0. In my case, they don’t, and in theory this number above should be 1.091 – but Garmin says they round down, so it becomes 1.0 instead of 1.1. Either way, it’s still in the ‘green’ as the green range is 0.8 to 1.5 (hence why my gauge marker is to the left as opposed to being centered). This is also viewable in Garmin Connect Mobile, though, mine is somewhat broken at the moment on iOS, and doesn’t show the numerical values below it. Garmin says they’re running that bug down.

You can see how the above total Acute Load matches what I have for my 4-week Load Focus, which categorizes the training type:


Then fast-forward a day and a few more workouts and you can see my load ratio has gone up, given the big day today with a bike/run/swim:

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Now, all of this rolls back up into the Training Status page. This page aims to show whether or not the type of training I’m doing is beneficial to me getting faster. It’ll have messages like Productive, Unproductive, Maintaining, etc… Right now, I’m ‘Maintaining’, because apparently my VO2Max value is ‘Steady’ (meaning, neither going up nor down). So even though my HRV Status is good, my Load Focus is good, and all the other things are fine, since it thinks my VO2Max value isn’t going somewhere, I’m not ‘Productive’.

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And this is where things can fall apart a bit. In my case, I’m definitely getting faster over the last two months. Both FTP tests and Garmin’s own race predictor show that quite easily. My training load the past two months has been substantial, yet measured. But my VO2Max values have been ‘stuck’ according to Garmin Connect since November (4 months ago). I’m not the only one. And as such, the Training Status is kinda broken. That’s largely why I’ve ignored it and instead focus on Acute Load and Training Readiness, which are more tangible. And all of this sets aside the fact that the actual VO2max values it has for me right now are rather low, compared to my running paces and FTP values (or just low compared to what it previously had till November, which was on low fall training volume).

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One last area to mention is Recovery Time. This largely hasn’t changed from before, but I need to briefly highlight it, because it’s now far more important in the Training Readiness score. Recovery time is showing your recovery time based on workouts. This is basically showing your recovery time till your next hard workout, in hours. This can speed up with a good night’s sleep, or slow down with crappy sleep or a very stressful day:


Now, all that said, setting aside from my current VO2Max bugs, Training Readiness and Acute Load is fairly valuable for me day to day. I look at Training Readiness each morning as a rough gut check of where I am in terms of recovery and preparation for the next big workout. However, I’m also not using it as the singular source to decide whether or not to train. It’s just one data input – I then use my own 15+ years of training/racing knowledge to layer atop that.

But I do find that it’s often good at reminding me when my body really is shot, or inversely, when I’m truly recovered (mostly after taking a few days off). The only downside? Somehow on the Forerunner 965, neither Training Readiness, nor Acute Load, nor Training Load Ratio, or any other Training Status metric is available as a watch-face data component. It’s previously been on the Forerunner 955 and other watches, but not here. Hopefully they change that.

Mapping and Navigation:


The Forerunner 965 carries with it the same built-in mapping features as the Forerunner 955, including free downloadable maps (via WiFi/USB), for pretty much every region on earth. These maps are topographic trail maps, which include both topo terrain data as well as city/road data. Basically, it includes all the data you’d need for any non-boating/non-aviation adventures.

By default, your unit will come preloaded with the maps for your particular region. The Forerunner 965 has 32GB of built-in storage, which is more than enough for maps, music, and a gazillion hours of activity recording. For context, here are the sizes of the main downloadable regions:

TopoActive North America: 9.1GB
TopoActive Europe: 10.4GB (*See update below for added Europe breakout)
TopoActive THID: 2.5GB
TopoActive MENA: 1.4GB
TopoActive Australia & New Zealand: 1.8GB
TopoActive Africa: 4.4GB
TopoActive Japan: 3.8GB
TopoActive Hong Kong & Macau: 17MB (yes, megabytes)
TopoActive South America: 6.0GB
TopoActive Taiwan: 96MB
TopoActive Korea: 213MB
TopoActive SGMYVNPH (Singapore/Malaysia/Vietnam/Philippines): 1.3GB
TopoActive China Mainland: 663MB

In addition, in Europe, Garmin has also broken things out further, if you want smaller chunks. These overlap somewhat, to make it a bit easier to get the region you want. Alternatively, you can just download all of Europe per above:

Europe Whole: 10.4GB
Europe West: 6.3GB
Europe Central: 6.4GB
Europe East: 6.2GB

Here’s how the map region breakouts for Europe look:

To change which maps are on your unit, you can go into settings > Maps > Map Manager. This lets you add/remove maps via WiFi. Alternatively, you can do this via USB and the Garmin Express app. All of these maps are free to download.


Once you select a map on the unit, it’ll start downloading once connected to a charger. In general, this is not a fast operation. Whereas via USB with a computer, it goes far faster. Basically, the WiFi chipset/antenna on the watch isn’t really designed for big-bandwidth operations (it’s designed for power efficiency). Thus by using a computer you can download a ton faster.

Now, with all that set, let’s look at the map options during an activity. Each sport/activity profile can have different mapping options. By default for example, the ‘Run’ sport profile doesn’t show the map, but you can easily add/toggle it on so it’s always there. Whereas the Hiking one does show it by default. Further, by default, the touchscreen isn’t enabled on sport profiles unless you manually enable it on that profile (or, across the board for all profiles). However, in the case of the maps, you can tap it at any point to ‘enable’ the map data screen. Thus allowing you to move the map around with your finger as you see fit.

Now in the case of maps, the Forerunner 965 uses that higher resolution display to show more data at the same zoom level. Check out this photo below which I took of the Forerunner 955 (upper left), Forerunner 965 (upper right), and Epix (bottom) – all set for the 300m zoom level. You can see there’s virtually no detail on the Forerunner 955 at that level:


Yet, once I get down to the 200m level, then you start seeing more detail again on the Forerunner 955:


Again, these are small items, but worthwhile mentioning. Also worthwhile mentioning is that the Forerunner 965 at this time does not support Garmin’s new Outdoor+ satellite maps. This new ‘Outdoor+’ is just simply Garmin renaming what used to be called their Birdseye maps, which have been around for a decade or more. Back then, they were a subscription service, and even now they still are. Garmin just added support to the Fenix 7/Epix series devices for those, but the Forerunner 965 doesn’t have that at this point.

In any case, when it comes to courses/routing, you can create courses in a million different places/ways. Be it on Garmin Connect, Strava, Komoot, GPX creators, etc. All of them ultimately end up with the course showing up under ‘Navigation’ on the Forerunner 965. This is the same spot where you can navigate to a Point of Interest (using the built-in database on the watch), create a round-trip course based on a preset distance using heat maps, route using a past activity, a saved location, specific GPS coordinates, Sight ‘N Go, or just picking a random point on the map:


In my case I had created a course of this particular run through the jungle/woods:


Once you’ve created that course you can load it up and then see details about it, such as the elevation profile, distance, Map, Climbs, and more:


As you’re navigating the course, you’ll get prompts for each turn automatically as you approach them. The prompt distance will vary based on sport. For example, in running/hiking you’ll get the prompt about 50 meters out, whereas in cycling it’s about 150m out.


You can also see on the map the exact route as well, and here I’ve tapped to move around the map using my finger – including zooming in/out.


The Forerunner 965 supports Next Fork, which means it’s automatically going to show you the distance till the next ‘Fork’ in the trail, even without a course/route loaded. This is useful just for awareness when you’re hiking or trail running, so you don’t go off-course. Albeit, if you had a course/route loaded, it would alert you once you got too far off-course.

I’ve used a slate of different Garmin watches over the last year for some pretty epic hikes, rides, and trail runs. Including via mountain passes at night – including both the Garmin Forerunner 955, Epix, Fenix 7, and Enduro 2. All of them have slight differences in how they present information, but practically speaking, all of them are quite easy to use. Since last fall, Garmin says they’ve tried to get the two product lines (Fenix/Epix and Forerunner) closer in how some of these features work.

For example, the Forerunner 955/965 now correctly saves the map zoom level once you set it lower/higher. Last summer/fall, it didn’t do that (whereas the Fenix 7/Epix/Enduro 2 did). That drove me crazy when I was trying to use maps deep in the Alps. Thankfully, that’s fixed. But even before that, you can use any of these devices up till their battery potential for long treks in complex terrain.

GPS Accuracy:


There’s likely no topic that stirs as much discussion and passion as GPS or heart rate accuracy.  A watch could fall apart and give you dire electrical shocks while doing so, but if it shows you on the wrong side of the road?  Oh hell no, bring on the fury of the internet!

GPS accuracy can be looked at in a number of different ways, but I prefer to look at it using a number of devices in real-world scenarios across a vast number of activities.  I use 2-6 other devices at once, trying to get a clear picture of how a given set of devices handles conditions on a certain day.  Conditions include everything from tree/building cover to weather.

Over the years, I’ve continued to tweak my GPS testing methodology.  For example, I don’t place two units next to each other on my wrists, as that can impact signal. Instead, I’ll often carry other units by the straps, or attach them to the shoulder straps of my hydration pack or backpack.  Plus, wearing multiple watches on the same wrist is well known to impact optical HR accuracy.

Normally, I’d spend a lot of time showing you chart after chart of perfectly good runs/rides/hikes. But this time, I’m going to save you (and me) a boatload of time. Because frankly, they’re all perfect. Nonetheless, if you want to look at data sets, you can. In the case of the Forerunner 965, I used Garmin’s newish SatIQ feature. That means that it will use multiband/dual-frequency GNSS when it needs to, but then save power with less power-draining GPS when it doesn’t. In all my testing since last summer of that feature, it’s basically spot-on in scaling up/down. There’s simply no need to force multiband GPS on Garmin devices. I’ve done mountain treks and deep city testing, and it nails both exactly in terms of scaling up/down.

Again, everything here is using SatIQ (which confusingly shows as ‘AutoSelect’ in the Garmin GPS menus), and as such, it’ll use multiband when it needs to, and save battery when it doesn’t. I’ve got a lot of sets, from a lot of workouts – but to save you a bunch of time (and me), there are no issues here. Just like with the FR955, it’s all spot-on. Still, I’ll quickly show a few sets and link to more if you want to dive into it.

First, we’ve got a tempo run I did, starting off in forest/jungle for the first couple kilometers, before getting to more suburban settings. Here’s the jungle:


And then, you can see the high-level GPS track:


Then, in the jungle the units are only a couple meters apart, but all very very close – really nothing to complain about here:


As I transition to suburbia, you can see they largely even stick within the bounds of the sidewalk:


Again, I don’t have any complaints here. Nor on this other data set on relatively similar/nearby roads/trails – all exactly where I’d expect.

Next, here’s a ride I did. Practically speaking, this is a boring GPS track – since it’s out and back and out and back and out and back on a slim road along the coast for a few hours. In theory, this should be easy. But hey – plenty of GPS units have screwed up easier things. The idea here though is to see just how perfect these 6 sweeps were (road cycling):


And if we look in on some random tidbits on the road – the answer is clear: Really darn perfect. It literally keeps all the tracks on the correct side of the small beach road in both directions:


Even the tiny little turnaround at the end is perfect. Again, look at the size of the cars/parking spots for context on how small a space this is:


These results were also mirrored on another ride I did a week ago in the same location. Oh, and for fun, check out the battery graph here – showing about 20 hours of estimated battery life (this includes LiveTracking enabled, as well as power meter sensors). This 20 hours is on-spec. Also, note when I turned up the brightness on the Edge 1040 to full blast, it blows through the battery. I was taking pictures for a different review and wanted them easier to see on the camera:


Finally, I set out for an openwater swim after my ride and run yesterday. In theory this would be about a 1,500m to 2,000m swim. In practice, it ended after a mere 90 meters:


This was on account of a tiger shark being spotted less than 100 meters from me by some nearby beachgoers, who caught my attention to come ashore. I decided to postpone that swim. I’ll re-attempt this in a few days elsewhere without wildlife that wants to kill me, and update here accordingly.

I’ll also add some more city sets when I get a chance here in the coming weeks.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy portions were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, running power, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Heart Rate Accuracy:


Before we move on to the test results, note that optical HR sensor accuracy is rather varied from individual to individual.  Aspects such as skin color, hair density, and position can impact accuracy.  Position and how the band is worn, are *the most important* pieces.  A unit with an optical HR sensor should be snug.  It doesn’t need to leave marks, but you shouldn’t be able to slide a finger under the band (at least during workouts).  You can wear it a tiny bit looser the rest of the day.

One of the things that’ll help with the Forerunner 965 compared to something like a Fenix 7 series watch is that the Forerunner 965 is lighter. In general, heavier watches will bounce around more, and thus are more challenging to get optical HR accuracy. That said, in my Fenix 7/Epix testing, I saw pretty much equal results across the different sizes.

Meanwhile, for HR accuracy testing I’m typically wearing a chest strap (either the Polar H10 or the Garmin HRM-PRO Plus), as well as another optical HR sensor watch on the bicep (often the Whoop 4.0 band). Note that the numbers you see in the upper right corner of the charts below are *not* the averages, but rather just the exact point my mouse is sitting over.  Note all this data is analyzed using the DCR Analyzer, details here.

We’ll start off with something relatively basic to get warmed up, in this case a 14KM relatively steady-state run (you can click on any of these data sets to dig in deeper if you want). Both the FR265 and FR965 are exactly the same as the chest strap:


The only sensor that wobbled a little bit was the Whoop 4.0 strap towards the end as I went into one of the intervals (I did short sprint intervals every few kilometers).

Next, we’ve got a tempo run. In this case I built-up speed before reducing it on the cool-down. As you can see, the heart rate plot is flawless here from both the Forerunner 265 & Forerunner 965:


Now, we’ve got one run that shows some solid optical HR failures (out of many runs that are perfectly fine). In this case, I was doing 6x400m long intervals at a pretty high intensity (on pavement), followed by 4x200m intervals at a balls-to-wall speed. And you can see that the FR965 shows some latency on some of the 400m intervals, but then really struggled on some of the 200m intervals. Whereas the FR265 showed only very minor latency on a few intervals, but otherwise came out unscathed. My guess here is if I were to repeat this workout on a different day and flip which watch was on which wrist, I might see opposite results.


Remember that with optical HR sensors, when it fails it’s typically locking onto your run cadence, and thus in this case my run cadence would be rather hard/high, and the difference between my left leg and right leg might just be enough to trip it up. Other slightly less painful intervals I did didn’t show any differences. But I’ll try some more of these in the coming days…just for you.

Then there’s this VO2Max trainer interval ride. As you can see, it’s also boringly perfect for both the FR265 and FR965:


Next, we’ve got a road cycling ride. This is surprisingly good. I guess in some ways I gotta stop being surprised by Garmin’s optical HR sensor in road cycling. It’s been pretty good in most cases for the last year, and this is no exception. I also threw in some hard sprints every 20 minutes for fun (on an otherwise mostly steady-state ride):


There’s a handful of tiny bobbles for a few seconds here and there, but frankly, this is really good for both the FR265 and FR965. You also see a couple seconds of latency on the sprint, but again, most of their competitors would fail to put up anything like this for wrist-based optical HR.

Oh, finally, for lack of anywhere else to stick it, here’s a quick comparison between the wrist-based Running Dynamics, and the HRM-PRO Plus chest strap running dynamics on the same run. First, here’s GCT. You can see it’s pretty close – with the exception of walking. During those two sections it fell apart for wrist-based:


And the same is true for vertical oscillation. Not exactly the same, but in the ballpark:


And finally, vertical ratio – again, very similar on the walking being tricky:


Again, I’m still not sure who exactly is actually using Running Dynamics – but if that’s you, you can likely use wrist-based without much difference in most scenarios.

As for the heart rate accuracy, we continue to see Garmin improve here, to the point where for most of my workouts where I’m not actually testing/comparing something, I’m using the optical HR sensor – even for most tough interval workouts (exempting this specific 400m set above, but I tend to do more 800m or longer intervals usually, I was just feeling spicy this day). Again, generally it’s just good enough for my skin type/wrist that I’m seeing almost negligible differences between that and a chest strap. But obviously, it’s not always perfect (just like chest straps aren’t always perfect – especially in cooler weather).

Forerunner 965 versus Garmin Epix:

Looking for a complete in-depth comparison of the Garmin FR965 to the Garmin Epix?

No  problem! I’ve got a massive secondary post on that, as well as the video up above. There are actually 65+ differences between the two. Some big-ticket items – such as screen size and sport modes, or simply a $400 difference in price. And then some very minor items – like how it enumerates lists within the watch. I cover all of those, and everything in between.

Dive into that full post over here.



In many ways, the Forerunner 965 is a safe play for Garmin. They take the existing AMOLED screen tech from the Epix and related units, give it a slight size bump, and then combine it with the existing Forerunner 955 software. Of course, there’s some added polish in the user interface to take advantage of that AMOLED display, but much of that existed on the Epix series units already. Garmin tossed in a few new very minor software features for the Forerunner 965 (e.g., load ratio and native running dynamics), but even those are being sent to the rest of the current-gen units in planned firmware updates.

Being a safe bet, it’s no surprise all of this works well. Most of this has been perfected elsewhere. And while the sibling Forerunner 955 has had some slight firmware bumps in the last month or so, those haven’t impacted my testing here (or even my existing Forerunner 955). As usual, with so many features, some people hit certain bugs that others don’t – and vice versa. The handful of bugs I did hit were very minor (some missing chart labels on Load Ratio pages), or mostly related to the final puzzle pieces of the revamped Physio TrueUp.

What you don’t see here is Garmin going out on a limb. There is no LTE functionality here, such as found on the Garmin Forerunner 945LTE or in more advanced form in the Garmin Bounce kids activity tracker. Nor is there ECG as recently launched in the Garmin Venu 2 Plus. Neither is there a speaker or microphone like the Venu 2 Plus. And there’s not a flashlight like in the higher-end Fenix 7X. Nor wireless charging like on the new Vivomove Trend. These are all puzzle pieces of the theoretical dream smartwatch that Garmin seems to be laying on the table, but not yet composited into a single unit. Undoubtedly, such a dream watch would probably land first as a Fenix, MARQ, or Epix series unit rather than Forerunner. But then again, a $149 kids activity tracker with LTE and AMOLED display throws some of that logic to the wind.

The point being, the Forerunner 965 is a safe option not just for Garmin, but for athletes as well. It’s a modest, if not minor, update built on the combined platforms of two proven watches (Forerunner 955 and Epix), and in my testing thus far, has shown near identical results to those successful and favored watches. The GPS accuracy continues to be (easily) industry-leading, especially in the battery-friendly SatIQ mode. And heart rate accuracy also continues to be almost surprisingly strong.

So, for someone like me that see-sawed back and forth for the last year between the Garmin Epix for its AMOLED display, and the Garmin Forerunner 955 for its smaller size and lightweight design, the Forerunner 965 seems to fit the bill well.

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 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 use Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with coupon code DCRAINMAKER, first time users save 15% on applicable products!

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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!

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 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 use Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with coupon code DCRAINMAKER, first time users save 15% on applicable products!

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. gingerneil

    Battery looks promising.. Will be interested to see how that goes in the real world with nav and music…

  2. Teddy

    Great review Ray! Have you gotten any indication from Garmin as to whether they’re going to keep investing in LTE in some form on their sports watches? Or was the 945 LTE a dead end?

    • Paul

      I’m currently using a 955 solar and have to change my sleep times weekly due to shift work, why haven’t the brains at garmin looked into this and come up with a solution? The watch isn’t capable of measuring naps or different sleep sequence’s and this has a big effect on my training readiness metrics.

      I’d love to know why this has been overlooked?

    • Would love to know this too. Have the 945LTE in the UK where they never got carriers onboard. This 965 looks sweet as an upgrade. I’m sure just after I’ve got it, Garmin will drop the 965LTE 😂😂

    • It sounds like Garmin is taking a bit of time to re-think how to approach LTE. There’s probably clues in the kids Bounce tracker that came out recently.

    • Weirdly, I just checked my 945LTE safety tracking and it is allowing me to purchase a subscription to Assistance plus in the UK. When I check the Garmin site it still doesn’t list the UK with coverage. This is great news and maybe some hope for the future products…

      Maybe 965LTE might appear (fingers crossed)

  3. Richard Wait

    Still limited to 2 IQ Fields? (Which I can’t believe)

    Sticking with the 955 it seems!

    • That’s sucks! There was the anomaly of the 735XT that support 3 IQ fields years ago

    • Sadly yes. I actually wrote up a rant post a few weeks ago about it. Haven’t quite made it from late-night Rose Rant to something I’ll hit publish on. Soon probably.

    • Eli

      Do wish they improved connect iq to be more functional.
      – More connect iq fields on devices at one time
      – Fix the HRV data that connect IQ receives to be accurate (which if that HRV data is also feeding metrics that watch uses, those metrics could be more accurate as a bonus) details here:
      link to forums.garmin.com
      – better handling custom ant+ channels in that only one data field can connect to a single raw channel now. Want Muscle oxygen of core body temp sensor data? Only one field can make use of data from that sensor. Maybe have a background app type that connects to the sensor and the data field apps can read from it.

    • Peter^

      Also still limited to maximum of 1 MB fit files when syncing via WiFi? With the Stryd metrics and 1s recording in the fit file every run that surpasses 2h50min will create a fit file in excess of 1024KB (1MB). It is not possible to sync these files via WiFi (you get sync failed on the watch if you try), so I have to manually turn on bluetooth on phone and watch (which I normally have disabled), and sync using bluetooth (which takes quite a while longer).

      To test without stryd, it takes around 9h long activities to fill 1 MB, probably depending on how many sensors you have attached (1s recording also helps). Make sure to disable bluetooth on the watch and add your WiFi.

  4. Joe

    Looking to upgrade my OG Venu to the Forerunner 265 or 965. I think I’ll bite on this.

  5. Mat

    Any idea when the general public can get there sweaty little mitts on it 😁

  6. TomTom

    Hopefully Garmin won’t go all AMOLED on their devices. There are many advantages MIP screens have over AMOLED, here are some I could think of:
    – Superior battery life
    – Great visibility outdoors with white backgrounds during activity
    – No constant dimming requiring funny gestures on sunny days
    – Analog watch feel with no light being emitted, seconds hand visible all the time
    – No attention grabbing smartphone look in the evening, no blue light before sleep
    – No longevity issues and warnings in always on mode
    – The watch doesn’t go blank when you take it off
    – Solar capabilities

    AMOLED advantages vs MIP:
    – Great visibility during evening runs and indoor use
    – High resolution, bright colors
    – You can watch pictures on it 😉
    …and that’s about it.

    • Matthew B.

      I would imagine Garmin will not go AMOLED on all devices. MIP will likely become the minority in the near-ish future. You’ll have the Instinct, Enduro, Tactix lines, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Fenix 8 goes AMOLED. It really will just depend on what branding route they decide (Fenix 8 could fill that “Enduro 3” space and Epix 3 fills the AMOLED Fenix 8).

      Overall, AMOLED is the future with people who need “extreme” battery life watches going with the fringe MIP devices. Even in the Ultra running world, people who need more than 30 hours of battery life in a single go is the ~0.01%. However, not having to charge your watch more than once every few weeks is glorious and MIP screens do have the simplistic appeal (and is critical for through hiking or other bigger expeditions).

    • Yeah, AMOLED is the future. The battery life gains are happening far faster than most realize, and the 965 (my smartwatch battery time issues aside) is proof of that.

      I could see a future where eventually only an Enduro-branded watch remains MIPS. Plus, many of the ‘myths’ about AMOLED just aren’t real anymore…as seen in the list above. 😉

    • Brian Reiter

      I expect Garmin will strive to have models that outlast Coros because their brand is to have the total feature matrix. I was shocked that they released the Enduro 2, which is nothing more than a fenix 7X with a larger battery that allows them to up the claim from 122 hours to 150 hours** and that number is higher than the 140 hours claim from the Vertix 2.

      These numbers are all fantastical but it means you can definitely get 1/2 that from a full charge without doing heroic battery saving shenanigans. It means you can use all the features of the device and in normal life you don’t really have to think about managing the battery.

      **with Solar

    • Duffman19

      For many of us (maybe fewer than I’m imagining) it’s about the look and feel. I simply don’t like having a light emitting device on my wrist. Even if/when the tech advances to bring battery life of OLED devices on par with MIP, I think I’d still choose the latter.

      Maybe, maybe, if they ever make an actual low brightness mode for OLED displays I could be persuaded. Or, even better, a combined display with MIP over OLED where the display is readable but not emitting light when the user is not interacting with it – that I could get behind.

      For now, though, I still think a watch, smart or otherwise, should be as distraction-free as possible as it’s on your person for the majority of the day (or 24/7 as Garmin, Apple, et al. would prefer!). And, for me, that means a watch that reflects light rather than emits it.

    • Dave Lusty

      Got to agree. I have the F7 and Epix and honestly overall prefer the F7. I think FOMO is driving AMOLED sales more than anything else. It looks beautiful, but as a watch I definitely prefer the MIPS screen, the second hand being visible too. The Epix is just too bright in most situations for me.
      During sports I’m kind of torn. I really like the F7 but for a quick glance the vivid colours are better on the Epix for things like seeing the blue line during structured workouts for time/distance remaining.

      Battery life/solar – could not care less. The Epix is as good as last gen Fenix in my use, I charge once a week which is fine by me.
      Outdoor visibility – not an issue at all on Epix, but subjectively Fenix 7 is nicer to look at in bright light.

      I think AMOLED will be refined and hopefully will be better in the future, but today I would choose a Fenix 7 if I had to choose just one.

      Finally, Epix loses connection to the phone for some (probably battery life related) reason quite often. It’s like it doesn’t keep searching when it loses contact in order to save battery.

    • isabeksu

      Totally agree with whoever wrote that a watch should have a passive screen. We already spend too much time on our light meeting devices… (smartphones, PCs, etc…).

    • Mr. T

      The MIP is a harder display to read and it’s not close. As most people get older they tend to have vision issues. The MIP exacerbates those issues. the AMOLED makes it way easier to see and read in a lot of situations, so it’s not just FOMO.

    • Seb

      What’s the longevity of AMOLED compared to MIP? Kinda curious

    • Eli

      I prefer MIPS too for the day to day use. Just got a notification? I can take a quick glimpse at my watch without advertising to everyone around me with a display turning bright. Don’t have to worry about what mode its in when I want to sleep.

      True the backlight on my F7 is bright enough to easily walk around and see everything around me so maybe my night vision is too sensitive

    • JimmyR

      I so much hope that the next generation (Fenix 8 or equivalent) will still have a full-feature 42mm watch with MIP display, like the Fenix 6S/7S. It would be a real shame if there were no MIP display models anymore for people with very small wrists. I’d really love a Tactix 7 but it’s double the size of my arm, impossible to wear it.

      Small aside:
      >> Added Chronic Training Load feature (also now available for FR955/Fenix 7 series on Garmin Connect app)

      The Fenix 6 has Chronic Training Load too on the Garmin Connect app.

  7. Tom

    Thanks for the review! As always, very much appreciated!

    Would you say, the 965 has something that would justify Epix 2 owners to „upgrade“ to the 965?

    • Not unless you really really really like the new UI design (which it doesn’t sound the Epix will get). Meanwhile, Epix will get Chronic Load and Load Ratio. In fact, you should be able to see those already in Garmin Connect Mobile I believe, with the on-watch pieces coming next quartely update.

    • Matthew B.

      Super interesting. Weight, screen size increase, and battery life gains haven’t felt like quite enough in testing?

    • Dani

      First of all: thanks for the review.
      As an Epix owner I was wondering why you don’t see that the UI update will happen on the Epix line.
      I was really hoping it after see this upgrade for a watch that was released just 1 year ago 🥹

    • Garmin owner

      Me too. As a Epix owner, sad to see the cheaper 965 get a better UI.

    • Jano

      Hi why do you think the new UI won’t come to the Epix 2? It should be a simple software update… And the Epix is much more expensive so I’d assume their owners woukd also get the new interface. If not it is a sucky move from Garmin. If Apple does this why not Garmin?

    • “Hi why do you think the new UI won’t come to the Epix 2?”

      Because Garmin said it won’t. 😉

      My guess would be that while everything ‘seems simple’ the reality is that the way Garmin does things in terms of teams and such, it’s rarely that simple. Plus, while the new FR965 UI is nice, frankly, about the only meaningful difference in the UI is the sport waiting screen (after you press a sport, while waiting for satellite).

  8. Robert

    Thank you very much indeed for this excellent review!

    Assuming the similarities to Fenix 7, Forerunner 255 and 955: the window of the optical heart rate sensor is also made of glass?

  9. Andreas Stennert

    Not sure if you have the option to test this while being outdoors, but does the 965 broadcast the run cadence (not the speed) separately?

    Thinking of indoor treadmills (which is calibrated) should provide speed sensing, but it would be nice to have cadence from the watch.

  10. Ralph

    Thank you very much for you review. Display looks really nice.
    I dont get why no ECG is included, looks to me like intentionally crippling devices. At this price point it simply is odd.

    Also could you give some updates about the bugs in the software? 955 was really bad in the beginning and ist still has a lot of weirdness in it.
    Is this the case here as well?

    • Antler

      Garmin does not even pretend to fix the bugs of the 955 anymore. The complaints in the Forums tell you everything you need to know. And now a new shiny product hast been launched…

    • Ralph

      have to disagree here. 955 has still loads of bugs, but I think they have at least one developer still doing something.
      I just hope they don’t drop the 955 like a hot potato.
      The communication in the forums is abysmal, that is true –>Garmin please fix this, this is just shameful

    • They’re definitely paying attention to the FR955 bugs, if for no other reason than it still shares much of the same code base as the FR965, so those two are intertwined.

    • Jeff

      Yeah, not sure why to even release this without ECG. That (for me) is the TOP feature at this point. Everything else added is just nice, but not a reason to upgrade from even a 945 (like I’ve got). A 935? If I had a 935 I’d be grabbing a 945 or 955 on sale. If the 965 had ECG I’d be upgrading my 945 NOW.

      For Garmin firmware – the Edge 1030 was released on aged xx20 hardware with faulty firmware, and _never_ got fixed. They then moved on to the 1030+ which had matching hardware from the other xx30’s. That alone kept me from going to a 1040, in spite of the massive upgrade that the 1040 is. Firmware instability is definitely is costing them some sales. Now my FR 945 though has been _surprisingly_ stable and the 735tx before that. Before buying a Garmin now, I’m furiously checking all the feedback (forums, reddit, here, there everywhere) for firmware issues before buying though.

    • Patrick

      this is my concern – the 955 has a heap of major bugs, you only need to check garmin’s own forums to see. the only odd thing is that some people get them, some don’t, with no obvious difference in usage or settings.

      i’m getting about 3 days battery life in smartwatch mode, with default settings. garmin accepted this as a bug and claimed to have fixed it, however they have not. among other bugs, they also have no idea how to handle timezones.

      the only thing i can say is only buy one of these watches if you are sure you will be able to return it if you have issues – return for refund, not replacement as that does nothing other than cost you more money

    • Dag J

      Sounds like user error to me. I’ve gone through the 935, 945, and 955. My parents also have the Fenix 6 and 7. None of us have ever delt with bugs or software issues really. I have, however, gotten both my 935 and 945 replaced free of charge with a brand new device due to a defect in the plastic back. Your experience is the exact opposite of mine.. Garmin has always been consistent, and high quality. Plus, incredible customer service that replaced my device without any hassle when I called them about the plastic issue.

      Not to mention, they retain their value incredibly old. I sold my 935 when the 945 came out for $330.00.

    • Gabriel

      I’m kind of on the same boat. With no ECG I don’t see a strong enough reason to upgrade from my 945 (unless I can sell at a good price, but still). What I’m actually really looking forward to is a Vivosmart with GPS so I can have all the same daily stats (sleep, steps, floors, etc) and get back to wear my dress watches in the day to day with the Vivosmart and the Forerunner for training. I don’t want to drop a lot of money for something I want to use only for sports without a major improvement in features to my 945.

      Well, my comment on the Vivosmart is probably offtopic here and probably for another post.

    • Robin

      Plus one on the vivosmart point. Get the exact same training metrics from the vivosmart, which updates the “training” watch suggestions etc when it’s put on.

      Available training metrics on the vivosmart can be tied to the available metrics on your training watch of choice. Can scale up or down depending on the device.

  11. TomTom

    “For example, you won’t find Windsurfing here (despite the lower-priced Instinct 2 series getting it a few weeks ago).”

    It’s because Fenix/Instinct are 10 ATM rated so according to Garmin specs they can be used during high speed waters sports, Forerunners can’t 🙂

    • Interesting reasoning, albeit, from a pricing standpoint still kinda confusingly stupid. 🙂

    • Dag J

      Sounds like user error to me. I’ve gone through the 935, 945, and 955. My parents also have the Fenix 6 and 7. None of us have ever delt with bugs or software issues really. I have, however, gotten both my 935 and 945 replaced free of charge with a brand new device due to a defect in the plastic back. Your experience is the exact opposite of mine.. Garmin has always been consistent, and high quality. Plus, incredible customer service that replaced my device without any hassle when I called them about the plastic issue.

      Not to mention, they retain their value incredibly old. I sold my 935 when the 945 came out for $330.00.

  12. Michal

    AMOLED: it’s great to have the superior resolution when using maps, but the rest of the UI? It’s hideous, frankly. The minimalistic, matter of fact simplicity of the MIP displays is closer to my taste than this over the top, retro-futuristic look of the 1980’s. Ugh, the colours, ugh, the fonts…

    • Neil Rosser

      but yet – for me, I love that new interface and will grab a 965 as soon as retail availability in the States happens.
      Point being – for every person who likes MIP and that dim battery-saving screen there are probably 20 people who want bright easy to read AMOLED. As the market shows and as Ray has said here in these comments, AMOLED is the future. Get ready for it.

    • Sam

      Yes! All the gradients and cutesy graphics are intentionally wasting the potential of AMOLED, black means pixel off.

    • Erik

      Hopefully there is also still some love from for the Garmin Index S2 Smart Scale, already 300 posts about the scale not working after the 3.00 firmware killed all wifi connectivity a month ago, and none response from Garmin. Big fail there.

    • Patrick

      “Still some love”???
      garmin have never had any love for the index scales – they are a marketing joke

    • Michal

      I’m all for it, I just hate the way graphic designers at Garmin are using those capabilities (4x more pixels, 1000 more colours). The UI doesn’t match the outside casing design, the materials. Apple approach, restrained, seems to me much more appealing, the way the hardware blends with software.

    • Brian Reiter

      They seem to be going for a “sporty” aesthetic on the f955 — particularly with the neon-yellow and black strap colorway. The graphic assets on the Epix 2 and Marq 2 are more restrained.

      I think they want to achieve some separation in the design language.

    • Patrick

      agreed, it looks like some teenage boy has gotten all excited about the range of colours and effects suddenly available to him and decided to use them all, on every screen.

      the larger display area is a big win. otherwise i think the MIP is better for sportswatch use

  13. Adam

    Lactate threshold is working? On my 955 it never took any readings during normal workout…

  14. Jose M.

    Love the new polished interface (gradients and colors). Will that arrive to the Epix?

  15. Pavel Vishnyakov

    Thanks for the review, Ray!
    So, basically it doesn’t look like there’s any reason to upgrade from 955 – unless you want that shiny hi-res screen (which, I must admit, looks pretty).

    I’m surprised with the claimed battery life – I expected that it would be half of what 955 can deliver (similarly how Epix has half battery life compared to a Fenix 7).

    • Correct.

      And yup, Garmin’s battery magic here is impressive (claimed, and for GPS, I am getting claimed).

    • Luke

      But in GPS mode it seems 40% worse compared to Epix2? Or is that a spec error:

      GPS only:
      955: up to 42 hours
      965: up to 30 hours (AOD off?)
      Epix2: up to 42 hours (AOD off)

      That’s a massive 40% less in GPS only mode? I don’t see comparison above but maybe we can ignore that?

  16. Will

    Have Garmin fully resolved the issue of their run power over-writing Stryd run power when exported to other platforms?

    • It was resolved last fall sometime.

    • Heiko

      This is only partially true. If you are using the native run app, then yes, you can deactivate Garmin power. However, if you use Stryds workout app, then there is no way to deactivate Garmin power and Stryd power will only show correctly on Stryds platform (“Powercenter”), not on e.g. Trainingpeaks.
      Both TP and Stryd are aware of the problem and both say that Garmin needs to fix it.

    • Peter^

      Disabling Garmin running power is not anywhere close to a optimal solution (and not only because you have to set it individually on each running profile, and it doesn’t work in the stryd workout app): All things in Garmin that depend on Running Power (e.g. power graphs, power based workouts, possibly also some training load calculations) will also be disabled.

      As a user of a Stryd, ideally you would want to tell Garmin to use the Stryd as source for Power, and still have all the graphs, stats and integration with regards to Power on the watch.

      This fiasco with regards to power is the main reason I am currently holding off from buying a 955 or 965 watch – as I do enjoy my stryd.

  17. Oskars

    So Garmin basically copy-pasted Polar training load pro?

    • Not really. Garmin’s actually always had the Chronic load, you just had to go under Load Focus and add up the numbers manually, which was sorta a PITA. But Load Ratio matches the default Strain/Tolerance page concept from Polar (which of course isn’t really Polar specific either).

      Polar led for a long while in these metrics, but Training Readiness as a whole is far beyond what Polar has. As I said in one of my recent reviews, Polar actually has all these components, it’s just shotgun splatter all over the place. The key thing is Garmin pulled their previous mess together, ala Whoop, but better. Polar needs to do the same.

  18. Agata M.

    Nachos Cheese Dispenser 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  19. Alan Sherman

    So are they not doing the LTE cellular thing in the new watches? Was that 945 LTE a one off experiment that they aren’t going to pursue?

  20. Roman

    I guess that 955 will stop receive updates in few weeks… It’s the Garmin way of “supporting” their products. I have bought 955 when it launched in June, after having 645. Until today, it’s firmware it’s not stable enough.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care about not having AMOLED in 955, I’m using Apple Watch as my daily smartwatch. I use 955 for sports. I just don’t understand Garmin’s approach of complete forgetting of older model when they release a successor.

    Just to be clear, I don’t have problem with them releasing new watch every year, like Apple. But they should also provide SW updates for few years, since the HW is definitely capable to handle the new SW features introduced in newer models.

    • Santi

      Estoy de acuerdo contigo. Da mucha rabia saber que tienes un reloj que ayer era nuevo (con apenas 9 meses de vida) y hoy ya se queda atrás… un movimiento por parte de Garmin que no me ha gustado. Espero que las novedades de software tanto en el 265 como el 965 lleguen a los anteriores 255 y 955.

    • Matthew B.

      955 will keep receiving updates for multiple years. New features will probably stop in the next 12-ish months, though.

    • Brian Battaglia

      945 LTE is still receiving updates 🙂

    • tim

      Regarding 945LTE getting updates… Sort of. The recent updates have been nice, but the pace of updates (especially for the first 8+ months) has been quite poor and the responsiveness to known bugs has been lackluster.

      Some seem to indicate it is due to being an LTE device. While I feel like I want to keep only buying LTE devices (Garmin or otherwise) if the software update frequency / latency is truly due to the LTE feature I may not continue that path…

    • NTMN

      huh? That is just madeup negativivity…why? makes no sense.

      I have a FR945 and it is still being updated with Firmware regularly, including updated or added features. All of which at this point with a preCovid era watch! lol 2019!!! I wouldn’t expect them to be offering much support besides security-patches and critical bug fixes.

      So… WHY would an even newer model (especially one that is darn near the same as the 965… and released recently… have “less support/updates” then my OLD AF FR945? Because you feel your entitled to faster firmware releases? you should get things sooner? smh

    • Huiw887

      >> Because you feel your entitled to faster firmware releases

      I am entitled to a product that works as advertise, which 955 is not nearly a year after release. A top of the line product costing big bucks. Go end see Garmin’s forum for all complains as a reality check.

    • Patrick

      the 945 gets little of the new stuff.
      the 955 so far gets all the new stuff and is likely to continue to do so for a while yet, albeit 3rd in line behind the newer 965 and the older fenix 7.

      however new stuff is not the issue. the issue is that the 955 has never worked reliably. the 965 is unlikely to either since it is based on the same software as the 955. that is the only hope for us 955 owners, that they will fix the issues for the sake of the 965. however having been unable to do so in 8 months, i don’t see that changing.

      anyone buying the 965 should expect to have a high risk of major bugs that will probably never be fixed.

    • Brian Reiter

      I think that the forerunner 955 and 965 are both based on the fenix 7 generation platform.

      The f955 is to a fenix 7 as the f965 is to an epix 2. (more or less)

      The entire generation share a common trunk codebase. Garmin will develop features in one of the products and then synchronize the features across all of the models that have the same hardware capabilities within the next beta cycle or so.

    • Patrick

      my understanding is that the fenix and forerunner are developed completely separately. this is reflected in the fact that the fenix 7 seems to have fewer bugs than the 955 and makes sense considering outdoor and fitness are different divisions within garmin.

      generally, fenix 7 gets new features first, then they are implemented on the 955 (often a bit different).

      the 965 will be sharing the same codebase as the 955, hence buggy as all hell

    • inSyt

      Same story on the 255. In fact, the bugs are common, as they share the same code You just have to avoid certain (little) features because of bugs. Reporting bugs is such as a waste of time, as the moderators expect you create a new report every time they release a new version, even a minor firmware update without any proper change log.

      This also begs the question: Is the Firstbeat metrics bug free?

      And yes, these are not complex $199 WearOS devices. These are >$399 running on small efficient OS that should be easy to bug fix.

  21. Thomas Richter

    Can you select power as the target metric for daily workouts? Or only pace or heartrate?

    • Brian Reiter

      I’m confused as I have created workouts based on running power in TrainingPeaks and used them in Garmin even with Stryd over a year ago. I can’t remember if it was only the fenix 7X or this worked on the 6X too. It will speak the target power range and stuff over headphones just like with HR.

      What is the thing that is still missing? Telling you that you are over and under range?

    • Ryan M.

      I think he’s referring to the Daily Suggested Workouts.

    • Brian Reiter

      Oh I see. I turned those off long ago.

      I have always wondered what these things are based on as Garmin doesn’t ask anything about your goals for fitness or competition events. But it spits out recommended workouts and judgements about time in intensity zones that might be deficient or excessive.

    • Thomas Richter

      That’s disappointing, I live in a very hilly area and enjoy the instant feedback to uphill running I get from my Stryd on my Apple Watch. And I reckon only “real” pace can be used as a target, not grade adjusted pace, right?

    • Rui Pereira

      @Brian you can add events to the calendar, make them as primary/secondary and the daily suggestions will reflect that. If there are no events scheduled, it will suggest weekly workouts that will keep your 3 loads where they should be (anaerobic/high aero/low aero). The paces are based on your current VO2Max. If you are 50 for example, your long run will be around 6’/km, etc. It will also adapt if you miss a workout or had bad night of sleep or your training readiness is in the weeds. It’s deceptively simple, but it works.

  22. joe

    Hi Ray,

    When checking out the 965 and 955 specs on garmin’s website, it looks like the 965 is still gorilla dx glass and the case sizing is a little different (47.2 vs 46.7mm).

    Great review!

  23. Fik Dag

    Thanks for the review.

    Happy Garmin will make running metrics from wrist available on FR955.

    AMOLED is nice in terms of display.


  24. giorgitd

    One of the problems with AMOLED can be screen ‘burn-in’. Any improvement in this issue with the more recent generation of AMOLED screen (and, maybe, some software tools to minimize the ‘burn in’). Perhaps some observations from the AMOLED Epix Gen2? Probably not enough time with the 965 to have any insight…

  25. xtrimsky

    A bit annoying they haven’t been adding LTE. LTE does make me feel safer to run long distances with no phone.

    I don’t actually need an upgrade, my 945LTE is working perfectly. But Garmin will be losing revenue from gadget addicts like me wanting a bit more


      Same here. But maybe they will drop lte later this year like they did with the 945. I mean the kid tracker with lte was out of no where so they haven’t given up yet.

      Plus as Apple refines their game and Google improves the battery on pixel watch, Garmin will need real new features to keep people interested.

      I see lots of people switching their Garmin to Apple watches.

    • Brian Battaglia

      I’m in the same boat–a 945 LTE user who enjoys long runs without a phone and wanting to upgrade but unwilling to ditch LTE. I’m guessing at this point it shows up in the next Fenix and then the 975 after that.

    • TimmyB

      Exactly why I bought the Pixel Watch. I am now 65 and out on long runs with no phone is making me more nervous than I was when I was younger. I would much rather have the great fitness features of a Garmin product than the limited Google features, but the LTE was a non-negotiable. (I also wasn’t that impressed by Garmin’s version of “LTE” with the 945.) The PW is a stop-gap to get me through to when they (hopefully) introduce a real LTE running watch in the next week or year or…

    • msquared

      Another 945 LTE owner (and subscriber) here and baffled at Garmin’s lack of LTE strategy. All their investment in this new “safely focused” feature, putting all the cell carrier deals into place, establish recurring subscription revenue model, etc … then just NOTHING in the past 2 years ?!?

  26. The Real Bob

    I think you mostly nailed the things that probably many of us want.

    Give me a 965 with about 2 weeks of always on battery life, ECG (I have a heart issue to track), the venu speaker so I don’t have to dig my phone out when my wife calls while I am mtb’ing.

    Keep the LTE, don’t want to pay for another service.

    • Brandon

      Same. The pretty screen isn’t worth the drawbacks at this point and there isn’t anything that’s really an upgrade elsewhere feature wise.

  27. James

    I switched from the FENIX 5+ to the Apple Watch Ultra this year after being a Garmin customer since the Forerunner 305 came out back in 2006. I’ve had five different versions of their watches overtime. I finally left because they will not incorporate LTE beyond the 945. It’s been almost two years come on already. I thought this announcement was going to bring me back. I love their interface via connect much more. It works seamlessly with TP and gives me all the data I want. BUT, I don’t want to carry my phone on runs and rides anymore. Plain and simple. I’ll keep waiting like everyone else until they provide an LTE platform that can compete with Apple. (I hate to even say that, it makes me feel dirty)

    • Chan

      I’m not leaving yet, but I’m keeping my 945 LTE until hopefully the 975 incorporates LTE.
      As in some of the other comments, it seems Garmin isn’t done with LTE as indicated by the Garmin Bounce kids watch.

      Fingerst crossed.

    • John B

      This is my dilemma, almost exactly the same scenario/longevity as you (currently have a 955). Would love a better screen for my aging eyes, as well as the connectivity/safety of LTE. My gut says 965, but my logical brain says Apple Watch Ultra (I don’t need the “advanced running metrics” anymore). First world problems, I know. :\

  28. Peter Blair

    Great review Ray – thanks! When do you think we’ll see the new chronic training load features on Fenix 7?

    • Yes, it’s coming in next quarterly update. Though, you can already find it in the Garmin Connect Mobile app (under Training Load, then the next tab over), for Fenix 7/Epix/955 watches.

  29. Andy

    I think the question comes. If you are running a FR 955 and perfectly happy with it after moving from an Apple Watch S7 (as I wanted the training insights and battery life – even the Apple Watch ultra still doesn’t cut it in terms of battery life). Is the FR 965 worth the upgrade?

    • Nico Bogaert

      If you are perfectly happy with your FR 955, why would you? Have a look at the specs differences, do you really see something that you think will make a difference (I don’t but maybe you do)?

      Boring, I know but generally, unless you are running with a koekoeksklok around your neck, buying a new watch won’t make you faster by itself (or whatever your goal is you try to achieve). I am still more than happy with my FR935 and see little reason to upgrade.

      To be honest, most of us never really use half the features of these watches anyway. Or we think we need them, but do we really? E.g., I was snowboarding last week 2-3 full days before having to recharge my FR935 that’s almost 6 years old now. And it’s recharged in a few hours. The number of people that “need” more, are very limited (and the ones I know, just use a simple chrono, they don’t care about smart functions or maps or anything like that).

      I’d say upgrade if your watch is dying, or if you are really missing a key feature. Or if you won the lottery. Other than that, it’s just your GAS/FOMO trying to find an excuse/rationalize to buy something new.

      Sorry, I’m a bad salesman…

    • Andy

      Thanks Nico, I think I went a keyboard warrior ish after the 955 only being released a short while back – and feared the apple approach of yearly updates. It almost feels annoying that Garmin released a new model within such short succession. Maybe releasing this 12 months after the 955 would have been better suited – but then it appears to be a minor update.

      I must admit I am really impressed with the 955 and even with the reduced screen quality from the Apple Watch – I prefer the underlying training features it provides.

      Not a bad salesman – a realist 🙂

    • Ryan M.

      In a similar boat. Went from the S7 to the 955 (after using a 935 previously). I’ve not had the serious bugs that people are up in arms about with the 955, but still am making the jump to the 965. The timing is certainly annoying, but I also could have been fine with my 955 for a longer period. I guess I just have gear acquisition syndrome.

  30. Gabe

    A bit off topic but based on the naming convention used here for a forerunner with an amoled screen will garmin kill off the epix next year and rename it as a fenix 8 variant?

  31. Dan Jordy

    I’ve been considering upgrading a Venu 2 Plus (passing the V2P to my spouse), to either a 965 or Fenix 7. Primarily a runner, but want to start branching out.

    Love the AMOLED screen, but from reading forums I’m concerned about all the talk of bugs on the FR firmware. The Fenix is also heavier (I don’t want it bouncing around while running) and more expensive, but better battery life, water resistance.

    Not sure how much the bugs will affect my use, but are a concern. Going to have to wait for more 965 reviews, but the Fenix 7 is already a year old at this point.

  32. Minor correction, “ And for better or worst…” should be “And for better or worse…”.

  33. Simply Fred

    Very comprehensive. Thanks very much. I run on the old-fashioned discontinued Garmin foot pod. Can I pair this watch with my foot pod?

  34. Brian Reiter

    Are the software feature updates also synchronizing with the next firmware cycle of the fenix 7 / epix 2 range?

    Interestingly they added all of the running dynamics except for GCT Balance, which is the only one that I pay any attention to. Spec sheet says “with accessory”. Not that you can train GCT balance but I pay attention to it when I have been injured or have a big block. If it starts to go wonky it’s a sign I need to slow down or work on core strength and plyometrics. At least that is my theory.

    Did you have any problems with gathering sensor data from the HRM-Pro Plus? I have had unreliability with my fenix 7X 11.28 and the HRM 8.80 firmware.The running dynamics component can stop transmitting after pausing a run for an indefinite amount of time. That did not happen with my former HRM-Run (red) nor with the RD-Pod.

    It seems like a thing that is not unique to me and people in forums suggest it is related to the pace/distance added as a single accessory feature so the problem could be from the HRM side or the watch side or both.

    I have noticed with (very) informal testing that the Garmin running dynamics captured from the chest do not totally match the RD Pod. (And don’t match Stryd either where they have some of the same numbers, like vertical oscillation.) RD Pod is much more sensitive to L/R balance than the chest strap. My guess this is because the L/R force moment is attenuated by the torso stabilizing from core and the hips don’t have that effect. Or the metric is totally broken. The RD-Pod is annoying to use. I’m questioning my life choices.

    • Correct, next quarterly update for Fenix 7/Epix/etc for the wrist based running dynamics, load ratio, chronic load.

      I’ve had no issues with the HRM-PRO Plus on the Epix or FR955 recently (which is where I mostly use it). I didn’t use it with the 965 yet, simply cause I was collecting raw optical data there.

    • Brian Reiter

      I guess I’m unlucky, then. The drop-out is not subtle.

      See image.

    • RodgerT

      I’ve been using a first generation HRM-Tri and RD Pods for several years and my GCT Balance have always been +/-0.3% of being perfectly balanced with both. I got an HRM-Pro Plus a few weeks ago and was giving me 48L/52R. I called support and they sent me a new strap which gave the same 2% difference that the first one did. So I don’t have a lot of faith in whatever these wrist based dynamics turn out to be.

      Where the old running dynamics way off or are the new ones? No way to tell without go to a sports sciences lab it seems.

  35. Brian

    Ray – With these AMOLED devices from Garmin, is it possible to “dial down” the display properties to gain back some of the battery availability? Similar to how you can back off the brightness on a smartphone display to save a ton of battery.

    I would prefer to have the screen always on in some instances (like when the watch is off my wrist and sitting on the counter) but I’d be fine with a dim basic screen in that instance. Similarly when running and worried about remaining battery, I’d rather deal with a reduced screen if it meant my run/bike still got recorded.


    • Brian Battaglia

      DesFit did a recent video on screens and talked about the brightness settings that the user can control. Take a look at that. It can be dialed down.

    • Correct, three options – dimness levels.

      On the counter though, off-wrist, it’ll shut off the display. No way around that I’m aware of (if there is, I’d love to know, since it’d make my picture taking a @#$#@-ton easier).

    • Brian

      Thanks both.

    • Peter^

      Is this true during activity? That it will shut off the screen when not on wrist?

      – Some people ride bikes with the watch on their handle bars, will the display stay on for it?
      – Some people wear their watch over the shirt/jacket for winter sports (and use a HR strap if they want HR), will the display stay on for that?

    • Andrew

      Display brightness on garmin devices is cofngured per activity profile. For cycling if you want always on configure it under the profile. Dont see why this would be different.

  36. Mike

    £599 on the UK website, seems a bit steep.

  37. Bradley

    Does anyone know what watch face this is? I need it on my Epix 2 like yesterday.

  38. Tom

    Thanks, Ray!

  39. Xabbar

    “Garmin’s Elevate V4 sensor” this is the worst sensor in this category of sportwatches.
    Huawei, Apple have much better one.

    • Ryan O'Hara

      I bought a fenix 7 yesterday but am finding it big and heavy on my 6.5” wrist. The 7s just feels too small. This 965 may be the ticket for weight and thickness. How does the on wrist movement feel compared to fenix 7??

  40. Brian

    Garmin’s website says “5-8 weeks” – anyone here finding anything sooner?

    • Nick K

      Adorama that one of the first who have leaked the product page has availability to ship in 4-5 weeks. Most of others don’t have it at all, though Paragan Sports in NY appears to have a small batch of 265s. Go figure!

  41. Ryan O'Hara

    I bought a fenix 7 yesterday but am finding it big and heavy on my 6.5” wrist. The 7s just feels too small. This 965 may be the ticket for weight and thickness. How does the on wrist movement feel compared to fenix 7??

  42. Leo

    Are the touch problems, most notable the back swipe, solved? And the missing interaction possibilities with maps compared to the fenix series?
    (I don’t except garmin will do a touch first redesign very seen, but just keep mimicking the buttons with touch)

    So far I’m not that impressed. Yes, the screen looks nicer, but that’s not really needed for training.
    Some added metrics, but I’m not into quantifying my life.
    And added extra costs.

    At least it’s slimmer than a 955, which became quite bulky.

  43. Art. P

    Yes, Ray nailed it, as usual.
    Dear Garmin, just give us flashlight and wireless charging in the Forerunner series, please!

  44. BuTTuS

    Damn, this is the watch I was looking for when I ended up with an Epix…
    So if I now would swap my Epix for a 965, would I miss something (except the weight and size 🙂 or do they have the same functions/features? 965 have slightly better resolution as well according to Garmins compare tool?

  45. Will

    What are you using to get HRV data from the H10?

  46. Jared

    Are all of the UI improvements coming to the Marq?

  47. MM

    Assuming that sales of the 955 will be coming soon, will the premium for the amoled and the 965 be worth it for new owners or upgrading owners (935 for me)? It seems like there is a lot of concern about the negatives from the community but not so much from the reviewer himself.

    • In general, the concerns I’m seeing above from AMOLED are mostly from die-hard MIPS people, which, likely have no ever tried a recent gen AMOLED unit (such as the Epix). As others have said, this is a lot like the whole film vs digital camera debate…

    • Volker

      The Epix 2 on the handlebars is because of the kicking in auto dimming a desaster. How is the 965 on the handlebars?

    • TomTom

      Sorry to report but I’ve tried Epix and its constant dimming in the sun and light emitting in the evening turned me off. We all have different preferences and opinions, please take that into account 🙂

    • Luke

      Actually e-ink displays are not a dead end tech yet. Just look at Gallery 3 ink tech (though I agree Garmin will likely go all in following the mass amoled market). As much as I like the Epix2 for the maps, In bright sunlight it’s not visible at all for me unless I use gesture control. And as a daily watch I much prefer my old Casio display which is less straining for the eyes (especially looking all day at active backlit displays).

      But in the end its personal preference as they have both pro/cons.

    • Duffman19

      Hmm, gotta disagree with likening this to digital vs. film. Even if someone has never tried an AMOLED watch, they are almost certainly staring at some form of OLED screen as they read these words.

      I think the divide is between those who see a watch as a tool for collecting data versus those who enjoy having (another) great looking device to interact with. Admittedly, the former group may be dwindling.

      Many of us simply find a bright screen attached to our person too distracting to wear all day (which Garmin requires us to do to have access to their training stats). If I were to wear the watch only for workouts, I could care less what the screen technology is as long as I can read it.

  48. Amarynth

    Does the Forerunner 965 use the same “Timers” functionality as the 955, or is it upgraded to be more like the Fenix line? I tried out a 955 when they came out, but I really missed the multiple timer functionality available in the Fenix series (6 and 7), that doesn’t seem to be in the Forerunner series. It’s kind of silly, but I use multiple timers throughout the day and that ended up being a big deal for me. Can you confirm if this is still the case?

  49. gideon

    thanks for the great review and info.

    I have the 955 and was hoping 965 went a bit venu-like in being able to swipe back and forth between screens which is so much easier than having to push a button several times. Anyway, the sooner your venu 3 review hits, the better!!!

  50. Neil Jones

    I wasn’t aware that we could already see Chronic Load in GCM (Fenix 7 series) until I read this, so thanks for that top tip.

    A question though, Is the aim to keep Chronic Load within the Optimal Range ‘green zone’, or does Chronic Load define the green zone? If I look at my CL, it seems to almost perfectly follow the same gradient as my zone, the only difference is the zone widens the higher it gets.

    • Rui Pereira

      Chronic load is the bottom of the optimal green band. The top of the band is x1.3, that’s why the green band gets bigger (top to bottom) when your load increases. Ray’s load is so big (!), that the green band almost takes the whole screen. 🙂

    • Pat

      Chiming in here – can we call out that many of the graphs in garmin connect mobile are useless? For example, on the Chronic Load graph: scale on y-axis is not intuitive, and when you scroll to a different time period, the y-axis changes scale, so you lose all reference points; none of the data points are labeled with value or date; none of the data points are clickable, so to find a specific workout, you literally have to hand count on the x-axis to figure out the date, then go back into your activities list to find the activity for that date; and no summary/descriptive statistics, like % increase or + points increase. The overall messaging could be more insightful and positive!

    • Yeah, my acceptable band is pretty big right now as training has ramped up pretty significantly in the past few months – which is making that tunnel a bit wonky to look at. But I suppose at the end of the day, the point is to show that variability.

      I agree that the Chronic Load chart on the app isn’t scaled well. The same actually happens on the watch for Acute Load in some value ranges. It’s something I pointed out a few weeks back to Garmin, specifically showing out the FR955/965 displays it wonky, but Epix displays it correctly. It’d randomly show my top-scale as like 4K or so.

      Oh, and one minor note, the top-end of the Load Ratio is 1.5x, and the bottom is 0.8x.

  51. Horst

    In connection with the HRV, I also occasionally read something about the Orthostatic test, which is used on some Polar watches.

    Is there anything comparable to the new 965, maybe just presented differently?

  52. Richard Owen

    Epix user for 1 year here – don’t believe the battery life! Even without the AOD I only manage about a week with approx 4hrs GPS activity per week. Garmin have been trouble-shooting for 4 weeks now.

    Having said that, it doesn’t take long to charge and the AMOLED is amazing. Now Garmin users have choices at much lower prices. Hard to see the value in the 965 unless you need those maps, the 265 is surely loaded enough for anyone? The 265s will be a birthday present for the missus to replace her Fenix 6 for sure.

  53. Stanislav

    Does wrist gesture to bring the screen brightness up work correctly when running?

    The reason I am asking is that simply doesn’t work on Fenix 7X that I currently own. I have backlight on wrist gesture turned on after sunset. When I run at night, often the backlight goes on and stays on for the most of the run, which obviously burns the battery at a higher rate. This issue is especially bad when running downhill. If the same issue exists on 265/965, that would have even greater impact on the battery life during activity.

    • Robin

      I have this issue with my Fenix 7 – using gesture during a workout after sunset means my backlight stays on.

    • Patrick

      interesting but not the issue in my case – i seldom workout after sunset and the backlight is not staying on.

      it seems they have multiple bugs affecting battery life 🙁

  54. usr

    Nice to see them do the MIP 55 and the AMOLED 65 basically in parallel, as a pragmatic test for market reaction without going all out to introduce even mow sub-lines. Gives the impression of a company where pragmatic engineering still has a voice and not everything is driven by marketing high performers willing to throw everything under the bus only to make *their* product du jour outoutperform the rest of the company

  55. Dick Pluim

    Great review as always. Does the 965 also have the features like jetlag-stuffl which was recently introduced for f.e. the Fenix7-series? I like the bigger screen (1.4″, which is the same as the 6x has). So instead of upgrading to 7(x) the 965 might be an option, although maybe Fenix8-series might then also be coming out soon, at a much higher cost ofcourse.

  56. Brian

    Why would anyone pay hundreds more for an Epix2 when the 965 offers all the same functions, better (slightly) battery life and is lighter? I always thought I was paying for the maps and amoled screen, but now they and the exercise/training metrics are available for less with the Forerunner. Tell me I’m missing something big.

    • Rui Pereira

      And the metrics are all almost available in even cheaper watches like the Instinct 2. I think the only thing missing is the Training Readiness, but you still can look at all the individual pieces (sleep, HRV, recovery hours, load), and make up your mind if you should train or not, instead of relying on the training readiness number…

    • TG

      Premium case and lens options, different aesthetic. Plus up until now it’s been the only Garmin AMOLED with premium fitness features. I’m sure that will change quickly now – either different sized Epix watches or Fenix 8.

    • Cory

      That’s kind of the same question i was going to pose to Ray, Brian. Is the Epix really $300-$400 “better” than the Forerunner 965 at this point? I guess if you could get a discounted Epix that was closer in price to the Forerunner it might make sense or am I missing some really key differences / capabilities that the Epix has that might appeal to part of the crowd that make that added expense worth it? Because just going back thru Ray’s review and searching for Epix and reading what he said at every mention of Epix where there was some comparison, i didn’t really see anything functionality, UI, or even hardware (although admittedly, Epix is a slightly better build quality with the bezel/case, but not bigger screen wise) that makes it clear that Epix has $300-$400 worth of advantage over the FR 965. I guess if you just really like the look of the Epix, and have money to burn, then maybe that’s the way to go for you, but i don’t see it. Would be nice to see a reviewer like Ray or Des do a head to head comparison of FR 965 and Epix to see if there’s something I’m just missing that makes the Epix more appealing.

  57. Graham

    I’ve been very disappointed with sleep tracking on my 255. It often seems to get my sleep/wake times wrong. The other day I woke up early, went downstairs, made a coffee and sat and read. My watch recorded that time as deep sleep! If the 265 and 965 say different things then that suggests sleep tracking hasn’t improved. It makes me doubt the other metrics.

  58. Stephen

    Great recipe as ever Ray. Also answered my query on why my Epix Training Status only ever says Maintaining 🤣.
    Glad to know it’s not just me.

    Keep up the great reviews

  59. gingerneil

    The main concern here for me is battery.. What /hour burn are you getting when navigating a course and therefore with the display on? I’m assuming it won’t last much beyond 10hrs? If so, that’s a deal breaker for any kind of long run use.

  60. Augustine Torres

    I have the 945. I am waiting for true LTE like the Apple Ultra before I upgrade. Until then there really hasn’t been a compelling reason to upgrade.

    • Drew

      Was going to ask the same thing. The features of the 965 don’t inspire me to upgrade from 945 at this time. The watch face is beautiful, but otherwise, I honestly prefer the plastic bezel over titanium when it comes to running in cooler temperatures.

  61. Andrew

    Great review, Ray. Now that these new AMOLED Garmins are out, will we be seeing an updated buyers guide?

  62. Chappo

    Does the USB-C charger refuce the time to charge the battery? If so, is it interchangeable with other Garmin watches?

  63. tmizzone

    Great review! Ques: Has Garmin solved the sync issues between multiple devices yet? Where HRV and other metrics only display on “primary tracker?”

    • Ryan M.

      They’ve started rolling out Unified Training Status which sorts this issue out.

      link to support.garmin.com.

    • Yeah, the only thing that doesn’t sync cross-device these days yet is Body Battery (yet, being the operative word).

      In a nutshell, with a new device, most things will sync immediately upon setup, but a few things need that first night’s sleep to fully mesh. There are also two widget screens showing historical sleep score and phase bits that aren’t quite fully syncing the older data, but Garmin says those too are on the short-term list to fix.

      Beyond that first day, in my testing, things are basically in complete sync at all times throughout the day. You still might get very slight differences in Training Readiness numbers if wearing two watches concurrently – e.g. 76 vs 75 – during the day, as each watch is measuring slightly differently, especially around stress. But TR actually resets/syncs each morning, and then upon each workout completion.

      I’ve got a full piece outlining all the quirks/nuances/etc, just want to knock out a few non-Garmin things first in the earlier portion of this week.

  64. Austin

    Any hope of some of these features trickling back to the Forerunner 745?

  65. Hedo

    Great review Ray!
    Is there any news about the Edge 540?

  66. Griff

    I’m confused by the charging cable. Why would I ever want a USB-C on one end? I can’t plug that into my wall outlet to charge it.

    • Rui Pereira

      Watches don’t come with a charger, only with a cable. Till now the cable was Garmin port on one end and “normal” USB on the other, and apparently now it’s USB-C. But you never could plug the cable into a wall outlet.

    • Griff

      That’s not true. There are a lot of wall outlets with USB ports. I have several in my house and place of work. Also, computers have traditional USB ports, not USB-C.

    • Ryan M.

      You can still use USB-A charging cables. The tech industry in general is moving towards USB-C so it makes sense.

    • Rui Pereira

      Sorry, probably country specific context, in here no USB in wall sockets, just standard 220v. As for computers/mobiles it depends, my iPhone is Firewire to USC-C, my HP laptop has USB-A and USB-C.

    • Edwin

      You are confused the world doesn’t revolve around your wall outlet type? Please consider installing a type-c outlet to properly slow or fast charge any modern device.

    • Griff

      No, I am not confused. At least in the USA, everyone has a handful of traditional USB plug-in connectors around the house. They are much more common. It certainly isn’t worth paying an electrician hundreds of dollars to re-wire the outlets!

    • gingerneil

      This is fairly typical in the UK. They cost £10 and take 5 mins to install yourself.

    • Joe

      Not sure about “everyone” having usb outlets, but you don’t need an electrician to swap an outlet over. USB-C outlets are pretty cheap these days. I for one am happy to have a single cable type to charge everything – laptop, phone, headphones, etc.

      Otherwise you could get a small USB-C charger and just leave it with the Garmin cable, or add a C-to-A adapter to the end of the cable and pretend it’s the old style.

    • tmizzone

      You may find these handy. I used them for this exact scenario and they work great. link to a.co

    • Griff

      Thanks for this. I didn’t those existed. Still not sure why Garmin chose to go with a charger that requires an adapter where the USB-C is much less prevalent.

  67. Ryan Jordan

    Are the map functionalities the same as the 955? The plus and minus buttons in your pics on the left of the screen are outlined in a gray box which is more like the Fenix 7 than the 955 (which just has the plus and minus over the map). I know with the 955 you cant double tap on the map or hold. I wonder if you can on the 965.

  68. Simone

    Hi! Did u notice if they have improved map navigation compared to the 955? I mean the zoom with double tap for instance..

  69. Uli S.

    Due to the fact that the last Firmware of Forerunner 955 is not getting any better I can NOT recommend Garmin any more.

    I feel that there are no Quality Control measures any more at Garmin before releasing a new Software.

    – Bluetooth Headphones disconnects every 6 min during workout
    – Translations on Stock watchfaces are wrong.

    Garmin definetly need to fix a lot of stuff.
    I recommend Garmin a full Development stop and fix the known bugs before releasing any new Hardware.

    • Huu90

      >> Garmin definetly need to fix a lot of stuff.
      >> I recommend Garmin a full Development stop and
      >> fix the known bugs before releasing any new Hardware.

      They dont care as long as there are new people buying new “products” influenced by… well… influencers.

      link to finance.yahoo.com

  70. Patrick

    Ray, your poor battery life in smartwatch mode sounds like what i am getting with the 955 – 3 days life 1%/hour drain even while in sleep mode.

    as far as i can tell, this is a software issue whereby the GPS stays active after an activity. it seems to sometimes reset after a charge/reset/update so it will be fine, then you go for a run and it starts draining like a sieve.

    no surprise this is occurring on the 965 since many lke me have it on the 955 and sorry for you but i am glad you are getting it as garmin might finally start really doing something about it. i’ve been working with them to get this resolved for months and it feels like i’m doing more work than them. they’re certainly not achieving anything, despite claming to have fixed the issue in a recent update.

    it seems there is only 1 engineer working on x55 (and now x65) series bugs and everyone else is focussed on new stuff to drive sales. i have several bugs open with them and they only started looking into the 2nd when they thought they had resolved the battery issue – months later

    • Rui Pereira

      I had this problem in the beginning too, was able to “fix” this if I deleted the IQ fields of the workout mode I just did, in my case it was the Stryd power field. So basically, workout with Run mode, end workout, save, edit workout mode, remove field. Weird I know, but that way it cuts the battery drain. I leave to others more qualified, to try to explain what might be happening here.

    • Patrick

      i have never installed any CIQ apps/fields on either of my 2 replacement 955s in order to rule out any interaction there. similarly, i have not changed any settings other than a few standard display fields. still getting all the same bugs

  71. Patrick

    Ray, can you please educate me on this amoled display and the always-on or not settings.
    – if i have it always-on then the battery life sucks and i’m guessing i have a glowing screen on my wrist all the time, getting picked up out of the corner of my eye annoyingly.
    – if i have it not always-on, then i can’t see anything until i get it to wake up via the somewhat erratic gesture (sometimes doesn’t light up, often lights up when i’m moving around)?
    if i’m understanding correctly then i think i prefer MIPS

  72. Mark

    Hi Ray,

    First time post from long term follower. Great review!

    I have a 255 and while you mention the 265 is getting the Training Readiness, will that come to the 255 also? Given that all else seems the same except the screen.
    Apologies if I’ve missed this.


  73. Thanks a lot for this excellent in-depth review. I love my Forerunner 955S for my triathlon training. I do not use maps very often – so I will stick to my 955 S for a while.

  74. Tepo K

    265 mostly missing training load infos and maps.
    Those loads are interesting part but i guess they will never make into 265?

  75. Brian Reiter

    Workouts based on running power seem fully baked with the native implementation. I must be missing something.

  76. Sergio

    Interesting Battery specs
    I’m using a FR935 for Ironmans, just because the battery last for the swim, bike, and run
    The display always on is a must, specially in the aerobar position, and during the swim
    I need the GPS on, ANT+ capturing power, cadence, etc., plus the HR broadcasted to the bike computer
    With the new specs, looks like the 965 will not be suitable for Ironman anymore?
    Did I miss anything?

  77. dan

    It’s no wonder you and the girl remain so youthful when 1 of your hours equals 8 for the rest of the mortals… lol

  78. David Weisz

    Got to bring back the rolling pin! Maybe I just need to go try one on.

  79. Scott McNulty

    I had not really thought about the always on light AMOLED screen being a negative. The one thing I really like is the display size increasing to 1.4″ I had that on the Fenix 6X and really appreciated it. Not sure if that makes me switch from my 955 though.

  80. Christopher Stindt

    Can you confirm that it’ll work with any cycling power meter? I saw that you said it works with Garmin Cycling Dynamics power meter metrics, and I’m assuming that’s just how the app reads power data? Or does that mean Garmin power meters only?

    • Correct, it works with all ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart power meters (which is every power meter on the market today, and anything sold in the last decade).

      The Garmin Cycling Dynamics bits are just for Garmin and Favero power meters (the only ones that transmit it, though it’s open standard).

  81. Ppavel

    Nice Review thanks.
    The potential sufferfest with the bugs similar to the 955 is too much risk for me. Even more than potential issues with the new Screen.
    Without fixing first 955 my faith in garmins commitment to 965 ist simply lacking

  82. Tomas

    About the Training Load Ratio: Garmin is behind on the science. The Acute/Chronic Workload Ratio (ACWR) has been shown it is not a reliable metric: see “What Role Do Chronic Workloads Play in the Acute to Chronic Workload Ratio? Time to Dismiss ACWR and Its Underlying Theory” link to link.springer.com

    • Rui Pereira

      All of the brands use something similar (or exactly equal) in their load models. I think it’s a case of a model being “wrong” but still being useful, as most models are. It’s a modified version of the old rule “increase no more than 10% a week”, which of course breaks down if you never take easier weeks in between, but still can be useful to keep your load in check. Ymmv

    • Yeah, this starts to dive into the realm of training debates and whitepaper battles. As always, every coach or training philosophy thinks they are better than the rest, and that extends no differently to watch makers.

      The only difference is that most watch companies actually have the data to prove it. Except, that data can sometimes be more generalized. It’s getting better though, we see that with companies like TrainerRoad and others.

      As always, what works for one person in endurance sports training might not work for another. That’ll be the case for the rest of human existence.

  83. Steve

    It’s amazing the sheer number of watches Garmin have cranked out the last couple years and the gaps between model revs reducing. Yet on the bike side feels we are years overdue on the 840/540. I guess the sales volume is really on the watch side these days and maybe they see way less opportunity to sell / make margin on the bike side???

    • There’s plenty of watch competition on the watch side.

      There’s almost no competition on the bike computer side anymore. Wahoo has seemingly given up trying to meaningfully compete, though Hammerhead is making a strong go of it.

    • Steve

      Yeah that’s a fair point especially with Apple making big gains in the sport watch realm. Oh well off to buy another Garmin watch I guess – at least it is cheaper that the Epix I was thinking about!

  84. Daniel Sasso

    Do you think they will add garmin maps + to the 965 Watch in the future? I know as of right now they only added a select few and it’s mostly the higher end watches

  85. Alex

    Thanks for the review Ray. Feeling a little cheated as a 955 owner. Have they made such significant improvements to the screen that meant they couldn’t have done AMOLED as part of the 955 rather than releasing another one just 9 months later? If I remember correctly the 955 came out after the Epix so surely the screen tech was available at the time.

    • Patrick

      it seems they are as unconvinced as i am about amoled for sports use so they want to have both MIP and amoled options. they just screwed us out of the choice by releasing them separately

  86. Zoltán

    From the review:

    “ But that didn’t explain why I was burning through battery in less than three days with always-on enabled (and also sleep-mode enabled at night). In doing a bunch of digging, Garmin decided something was dorked-up with my first unit, and so they sent over another unit. I just received that earlier today, so I haven’t had time to gather much data yet. However, in place of that, my friend and fellow reviewer DesFit has had far better luck using near identical settings to me. ”

    I am repeating for a while that although there are really sw bugs causing faster drain than the advertised level, and sometimes there are simply faulty devices, even there are too many people being involved in a too high drain. And they cannot explain why.

    People on Garmin forums try to figure out that what are the root cause of a higher drain for a product A, product B etc., after the release of a new fw/sw, but typically they cannot. Not even with the identical settings, so they start to point to other factors like environmental temperature.

    It means to me that the root cause must be the not consistent quality of batteries, and alas Garmin cannot control it. So it is not the case that a battery provider or its factory X produces good batteries, while another battery provider or the same provider’s factory Y provides batteries of lower quality, or there are some faulty batches, because in these cases the problem could be solved after some investigation.

    The situation must be that the quality of the underlying elements of the battery is poor, and it is a Russian roulette that a user buys a product with decent battery or with a poor one.

    • Patrick

      from my experience with the 955 i am pretty confident saying that the battery drain issues are software related, not hardware.
      my first 955 had some battery drain issues and was replaced under warranty
      my 2nd 955 had the same issues but then on FWv12 it was behaving well.
      then FWv13 broke it again, along with a number of other new issues
      my 3rd 955 has the same issues and they continue, despite garmin claiming to have resolved them.
      i don’t believe i am unlucky enough to have had 3 out of 3 with bad hardware.

      i believe there is something very subtle about the settings and/or usage that causes this, despite my being on very standard settings and usage

    • Rui Pereira

      In my case it was related to IQ fields that kept draining after a workout was finished. My “solution” at the time was to edit the workout mode and remove the IQ field after every workout. Then after a few firmware updates it apparently got solved, but I never felt that the overall battery life was close to what it should have been for my use, and I had the solar version in a country with lots of sun exposure year round (Portugal). Anyway, meanwhile I’ve sold it, can’t test it anymore, but I still hear about people that keep having problems and apparently don’t even use IQ fields.

  87. Marcel

    I wonder if indoor pool temperature is back. I guess not, but still hoping…

    • Peter^

      Should be easy enough to test/confirm? Ray (or somebody else with a 965) can you check if indoor pool indeed doesn’t log the temperature on 965?

    • Marcel

      It did on the FR945 until they disabled it for some hardware reasons. Sadly it didn’t return on the FR955 and since FR955 and FR965 are very much the same my expectation is that it’s still the same. I always found it useful though.

    • Steve

      I believe the issue was that the Barometer/Temp sensor was failing due to being turn on while pool swimming. Buy turning it off it solved the failure issue. So until they replace the hard ware and have the desire to spend the money on testing it’s highly unlikely to come back.

    • Sorry, thought I had replied here. No, it’s not captured on any of my indoor swims for either new watch.

  88. Jan Aniolek

    I am a male owner of Fenix 6s. I find the 42mm case size ideal. I would trade couple mm (like the 44mm Forerunner 745) for 0.1″ increase of screen diameter though. Was thinking that maybe 265/265s would fit the bill.. but it doesn’t. Ray, is there still hope for the 745 successor, as a smaller 965/955? I am fine with no mapping by the way…

    • The FR745 is dead. Long live the FR745!

      (There’s no hope there, and honestly, as a huge FR745 fan myself, I don’t see any value in Garmin having one anymore. They’ve already got too many models to begin with, and adding yet another one isn’t helping matters.)

    • Jan Aniolek

      Add a Multisport mode to Venu 2 plus (43,6mm case, 1.3″, and thinner than any Fenix 6/7 or 255/265/955/965) and I am sold.. I know it’s not happening.. To sum it up, I don’t like the fact that we’re actually going backwards as far as screen to body (including thickness) ratio.. I guess it’s not my birthday everyday.

  89. Jd

    …fire alarm or peanut #4? Would add a new element to the usual testing data / review

    • Rui Pereira

      HRV spikes are not uncommon during the night, thats why it’s important to average the whole night, instead of just doing random spot checks at specific intervals. Every night the single highest point will be substantially higher than the average. Anyway, if there’s stress at any point then the HRV reading will be lower, because it will activate more the sympathetic part of your brain (more stress = lower HRV).

    • Very legit fire alarm. Thankfully not for a legit fire, but rather just a smoke detector that decided its 10-year life was complete, and decided to alert us to that notion at midnight in a very deafening manner.

      I’m not quite clear why it would have spiked per se, other than that the spike lines up perfectly to that moment.

    • Sebastian

      Did they change anything on the Vibration Engine? Does it feel smarter (like the AppleWatch)?

    • It’s the same as before.

      Still nowhere near the Apple Watch realm – then again, no company is for the haptic engine.

  90. morey000

    This kinda’ makes the Epix obsolete.
    the 965 has:
    32Gb rather than 16Gb ram
    Comes with a titanium bezel ($100 more on the Epix… $1,000 USD)
    has the bigger 1.4″ display (16% more area)
    significantly Lighter,
    thinner: 13.2mm vs 14.5mm thick
    why spend $900 to $1000 (although I know it’s available for less these days), rather than $600.

  91. Mike

    Great review! Will the running dynamics feature reach the fenix 7?

  92. Robert Jr Gagné

    Do we know if they are planning on doing an Amoled Fenix?

    • JimmyR

      The Epix is the AMOLED Fenix.

      I hope there will still be a MIP display watch for people with small wrists (42mm) in the next generation of watches, with full features like the Fenix, or even better, Tactix.

  93. juan

    I have a 945 and i only use it for running. Is this one a big difference that its worth upgrading? Or should i just get the 265 or just stick with my 945?

    • Joho

      I do triathlons and have been using the 945 extensively over the past years. I skipped the 955 – but will now definitely upgrade to the 965. For triathlons there’s really no alternative with its light weight and full functionality.

  94. Sean W.

    “In most ways, the Forerunner 965 is essentially an AMOLED display version of the Garmin Forerunner 955 (released just 9 months ago).”

    And therein lies the problem, for me at least. The only major difference here is the screen. Ray you touched on it at the end: AMOLED screen, LTE, ECG, and wireless charging were the major features folks were hoping to see next. And we got just one of them. I’ve had four Garmin devices over the years. And it seems recently that new hardware features come at a slow trickle. I bet in 18 months we get a 975 that adds one more feature, like ECG, and in 2 years the 985 might add LTE. But Garmin you could build that watch now, and that is the frustrating thing.

  95. George

    Hey Ray – Thanks for the great review as always. Quick question; when I am swimming, I sometimes like to take a quick glance at my watch when my hand is at full stretch (just before the start of the catch phase). I usually turn my wrist slightly so I can the data on the screen. What I was curious to know about the AMOLED display, is will it be illuminated enough in that scenario. With my 955, I can leave the backlight on. With the AMOLED display, even with the display always on, it may still be dimmed too much to see when the watch is under water (pool or open water). I was wondering if you could provide any insight into this for me? Thanks so much.

    • Patrick

      this is the sort of thing that concerns me with amoled watches
      to my (limited) understanding, there’s no way you would be able to ready the dimmed display underwater. i think you might be able to setup your swim profile such that the always on display stays bright enough even when not activated, but then you are going to chew through the battery at an incredible rate and also be annoyed by this glowing light on the end of your arm as it rotates around you

    • Hoot

      On my Epix, I have the AOD during activities. I have never ever encountered any issues reading the data on the display in the pool or in any other scenario, be it full sun, shade, dusk, dawn or any other twilight situation. That was for me the main reason why I sold my Enduro 2….MIPS wouldn’t provide me with that confidence. Especially during activities when you just have the time for a quick glance….indoor rowing for example (which I do quite a lot since I bought a Concept 2 during COVID). It’s always a crisp picture. I owned many MIPS Garmins: Fenix 6&7x, Enduro 1&2, Marq Gen1, FR 945LTE, FR 955…..for me it is AMOLED only since they introduced the Epix! But to each his own….

    • Sergio

      That’s my understanding too
      I find “Interesting” that, for a watch that is marketed for multi-sports, triathlon, etc., no one comments on how the watch actually performs when swimming, or if the battery will actually last during a long distance event

  96. Nick

    Do you know if the US version display non English/Spanish/French notifications from smartphones? The previous generations will show messy characters if the notification is in other languages (e.g., Chinese) . Really hope Garmin can fix this…

  97. Jun

    Anyone remember the 225? I think it was the last watch Garmin used a non proprietary optical sensor on. A few short months later, the 235/935 hit the market. It seems the 225 was all but forgotten, and yes I got the 235 straight away. I feel a bit the same with these the 965/265 coming out so soon after the 955/255. I’m a bit angry, but such a sucker I have already ordered the 965, upgrade from the 255.

    Couple questions, if anyone might know the answer. I first got the Running Dynamics Pod and then recently the HRM Pro Plus to enhance the 255 during lots of treadmill time in hotels. Will there be any advantage of using the either, more the HRM Pro Plus with the new 965? Lactate threshold test, possibly? More accurate times/distance on a treadmill?

    • To be fair, the FR2225 was Garmin’s first optical HR sensor watch (2015). Then Mio made some poor business choices, and Garmin ditched them (and shortly, most others did too). But yes, that was one of the shortest lifespan watches out there.

      A better example for the FR965 is probably the FR945LTE, which came at a timeframe it arguably could have been called the FR955. Still, while new updates were slow for it initially, these days it’s gotten almost all of the FR955 updates, even if just a bit behind the FR955 schedule.

      I haven’t done treadmill tests of the FR965 yet, so I can’t speak to pace accuracy there, though I’d expect it no different than the FR255/955. Ive got a ton of data recently on the FR955 on a treadmill that I’ve been meaning to compile with both treadmill, HRM-PRO Plus, NPE Runn, and Stryd (dual pods). I just haven’t quite had the time to do it.

      Thanks for being a supporter!

    • Ryan M.

      I would guess that the HRM-Pro Plus will still be more accurate for pace/distance on a treadmill. I think it’s a much cleaner/consistent source of data versus what can be obtained from the wrist. Definitely looking forward to Ray’s comparison post with Strap/NPE/Stryd

    • Jun

      Thanks. I lurked for too many years.

    • Mike Richie

      Much nicer to lurk without ads, though. (And being super awesome)

  98. Joe

    “my tunnel is so wide” – flex of the year

    How are people’s experiences with the sleep mode on these watches? I’ve been interested in adding something with recovery metrics to my life, but I’ve suffered some pretty serious insomnia and maintain strict sleep hygiene (including no screens in the bedroom). Any unwanted buzzes or lights (obvs impossible to avoid hrm light) would be a deal breaker for me.

    • I really like the Garmin Sleep mode option, when enabled. It pretty much copies what Apple did. It’s super dim, and nothing comes through in that mode. It doesn’t light up the room, bed, sheets. But is enough to barely view it iif you raise your wrist.

      It’s incredibly hard to take a photo of accurately, because from a photography/camera standpoint you basically have to overexpose the photo so everything looks brighter. Just like inversely, AMOLED displays are incredibly hard to accurately take photos of brightness levels in the direct sun depending on the background you have. What I see with my own eyes is quite different than a photo taken of a an Epix/Apple watch/Samsung watch on a bright sunny Floriday day.

      (You can mitigate this to some degree with enough photography know-how, but it’s hard to do mid-workout/sport).

  99. Gianni

    Did you had time to see if in 965 there are the same bugs as in 955?
    No LTH detection
    Structured workout on track
    And many others that you know beacuse you read Garmin users forum
    Maybe you have news directly from Garmin about this issues?

    • Patrick

      this is the problem with reviews like this. many of the known bugs only occur for some people, some of the time. so whether or not Ray enconters them means little as to whether they exist.

      the one significant issue Ray did get was ~50% less battery life than expected. this is one of the known bugs with the 955 so it seems likely that this is a recurrence of the same issues (there seem to be a number of different causes, not just one).

      the situation Ray has is essentially the same as what we get when contacting garmin support about an issue:
      1. they doubt whether we know what we’re talking about and direct us to documentation about how things are supposed to work (hopefully they might not do this with Ray?)
      2. they tell us to reset the device
      3. they say its a bad unit and replace it

      Ray is on step 3. i’ve been there twice with the 955 to no benefit, but Ray can’t really say whether he has a bad unit or found a fundamental issue with the watch until he has been through the replacement process and repeated what he did to get to the point of having the issue. hopefully he will update us when he has done so.

      without i hope being overly critical, i am disapointed that Ray has not seen fit to call out the fact that the 955 has an exceptional number of bugs and the likelihood that the 965 will share many of these since it is based on the same software. he can’t say much for sure but the point of these reviews is to inform potential buyers of what they are likely to get

    • Gianni

      The LTH problem is not something happening spot to some users, it is a problem of ALL 955 users since last january.
      Mine 955 has no battery issues

  100. Mario

    Epix – 1,3″ display 8 data fields per page, Marq 2 – 1,2″ Display 8 data fields per page, Forerunner 965 – 1,4″ display 6 data fields per page – bad joke!
    The Forerunner 965 ist a nice watch, but so not for me!

    • Volker

      I fully agree with you, Mario. The developers probably asked: how many fields are we able to show? Can we go from 8 up to 10? Product owner: six should be enough. If someone wants more, let him pay more.

      There seems so be the wrong person (persons?) at some important positions in this company 🙁

    • Volker

      Mario, I did not think of that at first: would a configurable data field be a solution for you? There are some out there for other watches in the Connect IQ Store that show more fields than Garmin is offering. Hopefully someone will create one for the 965 very soon.

  101. Charlie P

    I was looking to upgrade my Fenix 6S to a 7 but this seems to do all the things I want for multisports with a better display, and better form factor. I see no real reason (other than perhaps solar) to look at the Fenix now. Seems odd to me.

    Does seem that the Fenix line and Forerunner line are converging rather than diverging. Do you think that’s their plan? Streamline everything under a smaller number of model line?

    • EF

      Yes, I was also wondering: are there specific reasons (in terms of functionality, not form factor, and amoled excluded) why I might want to prefer a Fenix 7 to the FR965, if I had to buy a new watch now?

  102. Richard

    There have been many complaints about unstable/buggy firmware and features not working at all in the 955 – I suspect 965 will be in the same fw branch? Hardware should be quite the same, apart from display – right?

  103. Olly

    Hi Ray, thanks for your review! I wonder if it’s time to replace my FR935.
    Well, in your introduction part is this a generic part you use all the time or did you forget to place affiliate links?
    […If you found this review useful, you can use the links at the bottom…]

    • Thanks for being a supporter Olly!

      I wrote the first portion, with the eventual hope I’ll remember to add those links at the bottom once they show up. None of the partner sites I use (REI, Competitive Cyclist, etc…) had the FR965 available yesterday as listed. Once they do, it’s a simple checkbox toggle for me on this post. In the ‘old days’, companies had those at time of launch, these days, it seems to be whenever someone gets around to it (days/weeks/months later).

      Appreciate the support!

    • Matthew B.

      Hi Ray – Garmin.com in US has said 5-8 weeks from launch at 4:30AM EST yesterday. Have they mentioned anything to you about a delay in the actual shipments of the 965 or was that a “pessimistic” timeline and they may actually ship sooner?

  104. Johannes Hennekeuser

    Spot on. Great review as usual. I’ll upgrade from my FR 945 as soon as the 965 becomes available.

    BTW: Have seen the flat VO2max as well over the past months. At the same time, the frequent “unproductive” vanished and made space for a continuous “maintaining” with very few “productive” and some “recovery” – neither moved the VO2max anywhere. Will see how this develops with the 965.

    Many thanks!

  105. fl33tStA

    is the screnn resolution compared to the Epix2 an increase again, can you possibly provide a comparison photo?

  106. Mat


    Are you able to replace the strap on the watch? And if so how easy is it to do?

    • Neil

      I wanted to know this too. The pictures show a strap which doesn’t look easily replaceable, so I looked it up in the manual.

      You can take the strap off using the included tool, replace the bar, and then use the Fenix-style quickfit straps. Seems a crazy decision not to supply it with a quickfit strap.

      The 265, going by the photo not the manual, uses the other kind of quickfit straps with retractable prongs, and is supplied with a quickfit strap.

  107. Richy

    Any news on the 265 review?

    • Belivet

      Came here to ask the same thing… just placed my order for the 265s. I’m so glad they finally got rid of the different models (music, etc.) and I don’t have to pay more for the black color this time around. Can’t wait to get rid of my gray 255s which matches absolutely nothing.

    • Kevin D.

      Just ordered the 265s for my wife’s birthday. Was waiting for the review to drop ” in a couple of hours ” but jumped in and ordered it anyway so it will hopefully arrive in time.

    • Making progress on the FR265 review, lack of sleep yesterday and travel day with kids slowed things down more than I thought.

      But the Forerunner 265 Video review is up now here: link to youtube.com

      Written post shortly, though there’s not much variance between the written and video, or for that matter, the written here and the FR265, minus of course the sections that aren’t applicable. The two watches are nearly identical in usage/testing in most respects outside of mapping and other areas noted above.

  108. Andre

    Great review as always!

    I see that Garmin just published their battery life assumptions chart: link to support.garmin.com

    However, I cannot figure out for the activity time numbers are those with always on display turned on, or turned off? For other watches (EPIX) the broke it out by always-on vs gesture mode. Here they just say “with default settings”. Ray do you know what default they are using here, and how much of an impact always-on has for activities?

  109. Tim

    Great review!
    Is it possible to use white backgrounds during activity (like the default setting on the 955). Thanks!

    • Matthew B.

      As an FYI, even if you can, it will *torch* battery life. The bonus of AMOLED is black background with white/color text is extremely readable.

  110. Graham

    Can you type responses to texts or emails on Android? Has the handling of notifications changed much from the 255 apart from it now being touchscreen?

  111. Debbie

    Looking forward to your review of the 265! I’m trying to decide if it’s worth upgrading my 245 to a 255 or 265.

  112. Jim R.

    Can’t I just have the MIPS display with the higher pixel density of the amoled display? Seems to be the best of both worlds.

    I’m only half-joking. Genuinely curious whether that would be technically feasible to begin with.

    • Ryan M.

      Technically feasible….sure.
      What I don’t know is what sorts of resolution/pixel density the manufacturers are actually making for transflective displays. It would increase battery usage as it would be more pixels to update whenever a change occurs, but shouldn’t be a crazy amount.

  113. Sean K.

    Garmin’s advantage in their design, development, and manufacturing allows them to rapidly iterate through product concepts. It’s part of Garmin’s DNA. So it’s great to see AMOLED display with the 965. I’m not surprised as the Epix 2 did so well. Nice review!

  114. clayton

    Hey Ray, thanks! Great review as always.
    This is a bit off topic, but have there been any whispers, whiffs, quietly spoken obscenities, about Garmin trying to setup a paywall subscription for data like FitBit, Whoop, etc? I am debating my next upgrade, and TBH if everybody eventually ends up on a subscription I might just go back to pad\pencil tracking, lol

  115. Thomas

    Thanks for a great write up as usual Ray!

    Any improvements for “**Sleep Mode**” i.e recording “Naps”

    Probably does not affect you, but are you aware of the **Exercise Load Widget** being fixed to show correct days for those of us in the southern hemisphere? This has been annoying me no end
    link to forums.garmin.com

    **HRV** – still only recorded during sleep? I understand it’s used during workouts and “Health Snap Shots” No option for continuous recording during the day?

  116. Andrew

    Correction: Chronic Load is now also available on fenix 6. Just turned up in my garmin connect for some reason

  117. Melissa

    I just bought the 955 one week ago, I upgraded from the 920. Should I return the 955 and get the 965 just to be on the latest and greatest? Looking at the specs, the battery life on the 955 is better which was a huge selling point for me. I do like the better display, but not sure it’s worth it.

    Since I’m still in the return window, I’m not sure what to do. Thoughts?

    • John Cross

      Melissa, please do consider whether the display of the 955 screen tech versus the 965 AMOLED is important for your use. I would stick with which display works best for your uses. Example is that in exercising in my daylight means that the 955 screen works better for me day in and day out including evening hours, gym hours (evening), etc.

      Reading the review, I consider the 965 AMOLED an incremental hardware change. The more important changes to my mind are the software. Garmin has a very poor software advancement history – read this as very slow to react to their own problems in my 20+ year experience with them. That’s why I tend to focus on usability.

      Your request: If the new 965 AMOLED screen tech works for you, and the extra cost is not an issue, then I’d suggest the return and replace strategy. If the 955 screen tech works, the feature/function would seem to be favor the 955 and then wait for something to really change that fits your use case in the future.

      Opinion and Bias: Garmin is an antiquated organization with an antiquated approach to use case/platform/software, i.e., they appear to still be primarily organized around hardware platforms, attempting to move software/features across those platforms and tend to ignore use cases across both software/hardware platforms for long periods of time. Experiencing the EDGE/Fenix/Forerunner platforms, it is only in this last year or so that the use case has merged for these devices to my experience. If your use case(s) only needs a wearable, this part of the Opinion/Bias likely do not apply to your use case/needs.

      Please note that my perspective is use case driven, i.e., with a primary interest of cycling I use Edge devices; however, for my 24×7 view I need a wearable mostly to capture the sleep aspect.

      I hope this helps and does not come across as a rant. I am experimenting with other platforms starting with a modern platform (Android/Cellular) used by Hammerhead for cycling. Will they extend the concept to triathelete use to include wearables? I have not seen that yet.

      As an aside, I budget about $2K per year as an average expense for sports tech. The only exception to this is powermeters for cycling as it is too lumpy, i.e., new bike correlates with reviewing powermeter approach. New bike seems to occur every 5 years in my experience.

    • Hoot

      Hey Melissa, that depends on your budget and on how much you like a more vibrant and potentially more colorful screen. As a longtime Garmin user I have used plenty of MIP screen watches (among them the 955 too), my last and final one was the Enduro 2. I just like the AMOLED screen of the Epix better. And it never failed me. Neither in the pool, gym nor outside, whether in bright sun or dim light. It will always be crisp and easy to see and not as washed out as the 64 color MIP screen. If you have the money, I would recommend to go 965….and if you want to upgrade one day in the future, it is always easier to sell newer tech online. The only issue right now is, that the 965 seems to be not available.

  118. John Cross

    regarding the article: “And the best new feature? Perhaps just the new Garmin USB-C charging cable. Sure, it’s still using the same tried and true-ish Garmin charging connector on the watch side, but at least the box now includes the USB-C variant of it.”

    Vote: I would pay for cable for my 955 given our platforms of choice (Apple M-series silicon replete with USB-C ports). Doesn’t look like this is available though, on the Garmin site, tonight.

  119. Eugene

    Very interesting function set on this watch!

    But I wait a bit until it is a finished product (bugs fixed) and the price has dropped a bit.
    As perhaps more people do…

  120. Berlin-Ulli

    Hi Ray, could you briefly summarise what the difference is with the Epic?

    • Briefly?

      Epix is a four-letter word
      Forerunner is a much longer word.

      Or, were you looking for more detail than that?

    • It’s on my to-do list to dive into all the nuances today, but at a high level:

      A) Epix has more sport modes (especially around water sports)
      B) Epix has 100m waterproofing vs 50m
      C) Epix has 8 data field support
      D) Epix supports Garmin’s newly renamed Outdoor+ map service (basically Birdseye maps, plus a few other map types).
      E) Epix charges slower than molasses
      F) Epix is a heavier/bigger watch
      G) Epix has a 1.3″ display vs 1.4″ display on FR965
      H) Epix has a slightly more advanced sleep mode schedule options settings page
      I) Epix doesn’t and won’t have the new UI the FR965 has, which is mostly noticed in the Sport mode waiting screen

      I’ll keep adding to this list, but first, breakfast for the kids. Thanks for being a DCR Supporter!

    • Berlin-Ulli

      That was a good one LOL (and thanks for the second post)

    • fl33tStA

      Epix 2 vs FR965 side by side picture of Display would be nice!

  121. James Sites

    I don’t see access to the screws to replace the watch bands, and I didn’t see anywhere in the article were you touched on that subject. Is it even possible to replace the watch bands?

    • Jun

      The bands are 22mm QuickFit, no screws required

    • Oddly, mine actually isn’t QuickFit (which has a little button). But nonetheless, it’s easy to pop-out, either using the tool that came from Garmin, or just a thin flat-blade screwdriver (probably even a credit card).

    • Hoot

      Ray, speaking of the watch band….I think I saw in either Des or your videos of the 965/265 that the band is kinda stretchy…or did I imagine this??

    • ekutter

      I don’t think any Forerunner’s ship with a quick fit band. Some of the lower end may have the slider pin like the Venu, but not Quick Fit.

      Just like with the FR955, and 945 before it, you can get the pins off with a small flat head screwdriver pressing in between the strap and case, remove the pins from the strap and re-insert into the watch. Then you’re good to go with a regular Quick Fit band. Except those will set you back at least $50 each.

  122. OkCarl

    Question about wrist heart rate monitor accuracy. I decided to buy this watch because Mister DC proved the wrist heart rate monitor on this device is good enough for most purposes. What about the color of the watch? If the backside of the watch is silver-gray does it do a better job of recording heart rate than if the backside is black?

  123. RPJ12

    Does the 965 have the same “Route calculation error. Missing routable roads in this area” issue when trying to use navigation as the 955? It is incredibly frustrating.

    • I haven’t seen that yet on the FR965, but I also haven’t seen it on the FR955 – and I’ve done a fair bit of routing there, including some massive 180km routes.

      How specifically are you creating the route?

    • Paul S.

      That kind of thing would depend on the maps and where you’re constructing the route, wouldn’t it? I’d be shocked if current Garmin maps had any non-routable roads/trails on them, but third party maps might. It’s been a long, long time since I saw anything like that on a Garmin device. Where are you that you see such messages?

    • Duffman19

      It happens when attempting to navigate to a saved location (Activity -> Navigation -> Saved Location -> (select location) -> Go To).

      It has been acknowledged as a bug by Garmin in their forums. All other forms of navigation seem to be working.

  124. RPJ

    In navigation, I used to be able to hover over a location then hold the start button and it would name that location. Then you could select “go” and it would route it. Now it won’t. It gives that “route calculation error.” There are issues with going back to saved locations and others as well. See this link and the others in the forums. If anyone has any fixes there are a lot of who would be happy.

    link to forums.garmin.com

  125. Uli

    Love it, but it is too big for my wrist. Garmin, please give us a Forerunner 965s in Oreo format.

  126. Ryan Jordan

    In navigation, I used to be able to hover over a location then hold the start button and you could select “go” and it would route to it. Now it won’t. It gives that “route calculation error.” There are issues with going back to saved locations and others as well. See this link and the others in the forums. If anyone has any fixes there are a lot of who would be happy.

    link to forums.garmin.com

  127. RPJ12

    In navigation, I used to be able to hover over a location then hold the start button and you could select “go” and it would route to it. Now it won’t. It gives a “route calculation error.” There are issues with going to saved locations and others as well. If anyone has any fixes there are a lot of who would be happy.

  128. AndresP

    Any comments on Adventure racing mode availability? It is supported on Fenix/Epix series. But for unknown reason not on Forerunner 945/955 , so i assume also not on 965. The FR is nice small and light, In midst of elements the AMOLED is ( or should be ) superior screen. So – it looked like dream comes true, but ….

  129. cseilern

    Are the Chronic Training Load and Acute Training Load in the 965 the same as CTL and ATL in Training Peaks?

  130. Dan

    I feel like I’ve been played by Garmin. When they launched the 955, they must’ve already been working on this version. I waited so long for the 955 so I could upgrade from my 935, but was sad there was no significant difference (thinking mainly of the display here). Now this – are they just assuming the triathlon crowd has money to burn and will just bite the bullet and upgrade again?

    • Ultimately any company worth anything has a multi-year product plan, they’re always working on things far down the road beyond what they release immediately. The products don’t come to fruition in just a year.

      A lot of people keep forgetting that chip and component lead times are *still* horrendously long right now. Garmin is lucky to be able to order massive quantities of components for waaay down the road, but that meant they were likely placing these components orders before even the 955 came out, just as they were definitely placing 955 orders before thr 945 LTE came out a year prior.

    • Dan

      Your industry-side perspective and context is really valuable, Ray.

  131. Jon Fischer

    Hey Ray or anyone… how’s the clickiness of the buttons on the 965? I adore my 945 except the lack of haptic feedback on button press annoys me constantly, especially when swimming.

  132. Alex

    Why is there no daytime sleep tracking? Does Garmin think athletes don’t like to sleep during the day?

    • Jonathan Fischer

      When I fall asleep and my stress level drops enough while I’m asleep (or anytime stress level drops enough), my battery charges. You and I likely use metrics in different ways but speaking for myself…. I don’t care about sleep tracking during the day since periods of restfulness are reflected in my body battery number and I am very mindful of that number.

  133. TaroSK

    How about Sail, Boat etc apps from Fenix/Epix/Quatix series? Are they available in Forerunner 965?

  134. Wolfgang Grenus


    If I complete a cycling workout with my Edge 530 and upload to Garmin Connect, does the “Training Readiness” or “Tranings Status” on the Forerunner 965 automatically adjust?

    Thanks already for the answer.

    Best wishes from Austria

    • tim

      Perhaps asked another way – does the “firstbeat” feature set of the recording device matter for this to sync and update or is the 965 doing all the calculations?

      i.e. the OP asked about recording on a 530, but is the same answer true if the recording was done on a 520 or 500… or even the TR app and then sync’d to Connect?

      Eager to see updates on the battery life of the replacement unit. One of my frustrations with the 945LTE is the stated “smartwatch mode” of 14 days while it seems fairly basic settings are lucky to get around 10 days. It would be a bummer if their 23 days estimate was really 18 and that always on brought it to an unexplained 7-9 for many people for unknown reasons 🙂

  135. Mark

    Only 6 data fields per page on that big hi-res screen !!!
    That makes no sense Garmin.

  136. John Kissane

    Has anybody actually gotten one yet?

    • Ryan M.

      Garmin showed 5-8 weeks once the page went live so I don’t think they have hit an retailers/end users yet.

    • John Kissane

      The 965 is back to showing availability in 5-8 weeks on the Irish Garmin site after being 2-3 weeks at the weekend. Some last min hiccups I wonder?

    • For better or worse – the Garmin.com site will always show 5-8 weeks for new products, and has for many many many years. The 2-3 week thing is more of a quirk.

      Garmin always fulfills retailers first in most cases before Garmin.com orders. In this case though, many retailers still don’t list it yet. :-/ Supposedly retail availability was immediate, but perhaps just not much stock initially.

    • John Kissane

      3-5 weeks on the Irish site today, I like how Garmin keep you guessing!

  137. Benny Rhymes

    My perfect watch would be a 955 or 965 with sapphire glass.

  138. Chuck Cho

    The following looks typo to me (battery life for 265 and 265S switched per link to dcrainmaker.com):

    – GPS mode battery life of FR965 is stated as up to 31 hours, FR265 GPS mode life is stated as up to 24 hours, and FR265S at 20 hours
    – Smartwatch battery life of FR965 is stated as 23 days, FR265 smartwatch mode is 15 days, and FR265S at 13 days

  139. Kyle

    I’m glad you mentioned the VO2 max estimate not updating and glad to hear it has been happening to other people too including another post in this thread. Any idea why that is happening? It’s rewarding to see it go up and it is helpful to me to be able to compare it to past seasons as a gauge of fitness and if my training plan is working. Is this a bug Garmin is working on or did they update their algorithms?

    • Ryan M.

      I think there were algorithm updates. I look at the data on runalyze.com as you can view down to two decimal places so you do see the changes happening.

  140. bigroots

    hi Ray. Purchased a 955 some months ago (and do not see for the moment why upgrading to 965 – tell me if I’m wrong), but what triggered the will to write a comment is your observation about how far one should trust the VO2 max the watch is showing. The quirks you report about VO2 max are also puzzling me. In the end, how are these devices calculating this quantity? A look-up table in terms of pace VS HR? Now that running power is also calculated (or somehow estimated), it may be possible to correlated it to actual pace depending on the runner’s efficiency, weight, wind conditions, and whatever else goes into the equation. Is that taken into account in some (linear?) combination with pace VS HR when calculating running VO2 max? … or not at all?

    Cycling FTP looks more straightforward, given that power can be measured directly with a power meter.

    • Peter^

      How it exactly works is not known, but Garmin uses Firstbeat to estimate Vo2max, and they have this article out about it: link to firstbeatanalytics.com

      If you have maximal running efforts, you can get some sort of Vo2max guess from that (e.g. like in Jack Daniels Running Formula the VDOT tables – see picture). If you don’t have maximal efforts, you can look at sub-maximal efforts and percentage of max heartrate used to achieve them…and try and calculate what a maximal effort could be from that.

      The results of these guestimations are gadget quality, not something to use to guide your training. If you really want to measure your running capabilities and progress, run a few normalized tests every few months (e.g. 45min all-out, 6min all-out).
      And if you really want to know your maximum oxygen uptake there is only one way to find that, and that is a gas exchange analysis test during a all out effort (e.g. on a treadmill).

    • bigroots

      so maybe, at best, one has to take the change in VO2max as an indication, disregarding the absolute value … or maybe not even that, given what Ray is reporting.
      I’m actually surprised that running power (in the hypothesis it has some reasonable accuracy) is not used in the equation. An inefficient (but more capable of steady power) runner should get some correction factor w.r.t. a more efficient one … or not?
      I am curious to know on which sample of athletes the 95% accuracy claimed by Firstbeat was calculated, and what is the error attached to the number “95”. Most likely athletes with comparable efficiency, i.e. professionals.
      OK I admit it … it is more a curiosity than anything else. Ray is probably right: keep an eye on load and training readyness, and tune the workouts accordingly.

  141. Hayley Winder

    It’s a real shame that there doesn’t sound like there will be a 965s for us with smaller wrists who want maps. I found the Epix too gig and am waiting on Garmin releasing an AMOLED watch with a smaller screen that has the maps functionality of the Fenix 7s. Looking forward to reading the comparison your wife will be doing however it looks like if I want maps and AMOLED I need bigger wrists!!!

  142. DK

    Hey Ray – thanks for this great resource that you provide. Any update on the battery life from the replacement unit that you received? I am very curious to see how the battery life is faring in the wild vs. the “up to” claims.

  143. Hi folks-

    For those looking for a slate of comparative on-wrist pictures from both myself and my wife, I’ve added those to the review. For the moment, they’re at the end of the “What’s New” section above in a gallery: link to dcrainmaker.com

    They include: FR965, FR265, FR265S, Epix, Fenix 7S

    Once I re-shoot the unboxing photos here, it’ll move to that section.


  144. Ronald

    Could you post a pic of how does this layout look on the 965? The 965 uses a different typeface. Thanks!

  145. sarg

    Great review, as ususal.
    Looking at your run in the DCR analyzer, i see that FR955 gives noisier and higher (+10%) speed (and power), with the same distance as other devices. Do you have any explanation for this?
    I find cool to have my tracks spot on but i value much more having my instant pace relatively correct. AW looks much noisier but at least agrees with FR965 on average

  146. Nik Wakefield

    what upgrades do you think the 975 will have? wondering if I should upgrade my 945 to 965 or wait?

    • DJ

      Depends on if you want to wait another 2 years. I bet a 965 LTE will be released in a year, and then the 975 in 2 years. That’s just my guess though. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next version has the next V5 Elevate sensor. ECG capabilities, and maybe a microphone for more smart features. I’m moving from 945 to 965, I really want the titanium bezel and AMOLED screen for a more work-friendly look

  147. Hi Folks, two quick notes for those following along in the comments.

    First, I’ve published a huge comparison between the Epix and FR965 – which you can find here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    Second, for those in the US, REI has just listed the FR965, which if you buy via them helps support the site via this link: link to avantlink.com

    It’s still showing as a pre-order for them, but REI generally won’t list anything unless they have confirmed stock in under 30 days. Thanks for the support!

  148. Peter

    Very interested in the Muscle O2 sensors compatibility… does that mean you can now connect a Moxy or Graspor sensor without an IQ data field (I’m always short on available IQ data field with the maximum of two per activity type !) ? Did you discuss with any of those sensors maker to see if there is full compatibility ?

    Garmin’s manual for the watch indicated Muscle O2 saturation % and Total Hemoglobin are the two possible data fields, so there might be a bit less information in the fit file compare to what was available from the IQ specific fields of those brands… but having this “native” would be huge if it works properly.

    Fingers crossed… and of course if you have more information let us know !

    Ps : hopefully same support of Core Body Temp sensor is coming next 😉 !

    • Yup, you can, though, you’ve actually been able to for a long-long-long time.

      And in fact, I used this tonight. Or, I thought I did. I had paired it up to a Train.Red sensors, showing as ANT+. And I thought it would capture the data despite not adding the data field, as I was in a rush to pickup kids and had to start the workout. Oddly, nothing was captured. I’ll try again tomorrow – may very well be a sensor issue – was my first ride with it.

    • Ryan M.

      Never heard of train.red. Jaw dropped at the price. Then saw they linked with something called V02 Master Manager, a portable VO2 Max testing tool. Looks really cool. Jaw continued its process of dropping

    • Yeah, SpO2 sensors have never been cheap. And this is no different.

      They’re coming at it with a bit more medical/science background (in terms of company history) than some of their previous competitors, and now backing into the pro sports scene. A spin-off of sorts.

      Either way, they’re based nearby here and dropped off a few loaners to poke at. Right now it’s pretty much ‘data only’, meaning not much in the way of analytic/consumer recommendations within their app. But I suspect over time that’ll change.

  149. Tom W

    Looks great, and can’t wait until they hit the shops. Seems like the UK has about a two month wait for stock.

    I currently have an Epix 2, and for the same reasoning as DCR I’m going to jump ship.

  150. Nejc-B

    So basically the Training Status – as one of the central and heavily advertised training guidance feature – is broken for months and Garmin does not care about it or is not capable of sorting it out?

    The beauty of blackbox composite metrics with fancy names…

  151. Dana Dobbs

    Question for you Ray. I’m bi-racial(black/white mix). Typically, wrist based heart rate doesn’t work well for me. My darker skin doesn’t play nice with the sensor. Also, I have tattoos which darkens the skin even more. Is there any improvement in the HR sensor so I can go without a chest strap?

    • OkCarl

      I am a white skinned blue eyed one race kind of a guy. I just bought the grey / silver version of the Forerunner 965. I’m hoping the white backside will reflect light and thereby make my wrist heart monitor perform better. Can’t promise anything. I’m just sharing a hunch.

    • Dana Dobbs

      Let me know how it goes. I’m curious. Thanks

    • OkCarl

      My understanding, biosensors generally do not work as well on people of color. Maybe you should message the New England Journal of Medicine. Suggest a controlled study on blacks and whites with the black and white versions of the Garmin Forerunner 965. Best Wishes. OkCarl.

    • The sensor is the same as the FR955, Fenix 7 series, Venu 2 series, and plenty of others.

      Darker skin tones can throw off older optical HR sensors, but it’s becoming less and less of an issue with newer units. Simply put – I don’t really hear that many (if any) complaints about dark skin tones on recent watches from major companies. Of course, we still hear complaints about optical HR across all skin tones, but that tends to be hyper-specific to a given person (sometimes due to hair, exact placement, etc…).

      Said differently, if you have a Garmin with a ELEVATE V4 sensor on it today (from the last 2 years), it won’t be any different here (for better or worse).

  152. Hey folks – just a quick note that the FR965 Beginners Guide/User Interface Guide/Massive UI tour video is up here: link to youtube.com

    It covers all these topics (YouTube chapters enabled on the video too):

    0:00 The Game Plan
    0:43 Hardware Overview
    2:37 AMOLED Screen in Real-Life
    7:05 Watch Face, Daily Activity Tracing, Widgets
    9:42 Sleep Tracking & Morning Report
    14:42 HRV Status Deep-Dive
    17:17 Training Readiness Deep-Dive (and Load/recovery)
    20:32 Training Load Ratio/Chronic Load
    27:24 Race Calendar, Training Plans, Daily Suggested Workouts
    31:19 Sport Modes, Configuration, and Usage
    38:01 Native Running Power/Running Dynamics
    41:27 Stamina Explained
    45:01 Multiband GPS & SatIQ
    48:47 Sensors & Pairing
    49:53 Mapping, Navigation, Routing
    55:37 Flashlight Feature
    57:12 Music Support (Spotify)
    1:00:16 Garmin Pay/Contactless Payments


  153. fjm

    Thanks for another detailed review. I still have a 935 and haven’t seen much of a reason to upgrade thus far. But do I understand that the GPS and heart rate monitoring would be considerably more accurate on the 965? The display is of course nice too, so maybe this one would be worth the upgrade. (I mostly use running, yoga, cycling functions, although I did get to try skiing recently too. Most of the time, however, just running.)

  154. Stuart

    Is there any word from Garmin on if/when they’ll sell the USB-C charging cable separately? As a Mac user, I would dearly love to have one (two USB A ports, none of them on the front of my computer, versus six USB C ports, two on the front of my computer, plus another two on an external storage unit that I use to supplement the internal SSD as a way of saving a bit of money versus Apple’s excessive charges for boosting storage…)

    I can _cope_ with USB-A, but USB-C would make it easier on several levels. Yes, I’m aware of the Tusita option; but given that I actively want to avoid buying from Amazon, and the other suppliers I’ve found seem to be US-based (which is a problem for an Australian), well…

    • Dom

      On the Garmin UK site, if you look at the 965 accessories, it’s showing there with 3-5 week availability

    • Stuart

      Thanks, Dom. That gives me the part number – 010-13278-00 – though it isn’t listed (yet?) on the Garmin Australia site. That’s enough for me to do my own digging; I appreciate the pointer.

    • Yeah, Garmin started offering it on their site at least a few weeks ago when I first looked:

      link to garmin.com

      US site shows 1-3 days right now for it, EU site shows 3-5 weeks. I presume just different stockpiles for it.

      I’ve also bought a 3rd party USB-C Garmin Charger a year ago: link to amzn.to

      It’s fine, maybe a tiny bit imperfect, but it’s red and thus easy to spot in my bag. I still prefer the pucks (link to dcrainmaker.com)

      And then I have a couple of these USB-C to Garmin port adapters on my keyrings, just in case I totally eff up and forget something while travelling, since I virtually always have my keys with me: link to amzn.to

      They work fine too, but are really more ideal for ‘Doh’ moments.


  155. Brian D.

    Looks like an amazing watch. Still disappointing that there isn’t a 965s. Would love the smaller watch, lower weight, with maps and features like climb pro, cycling dynamics, etc.

  156. tim

    thank you for very helpful and relevant reviews, much appreciated

  157. Mike

    It’s worth saying ref the wrist photos, that when you twist your arm towards you, the bones in your forearm (ulner and radius) change alignment and the circumference of your wrist reduces. So when checking out a watch size, when you look at it yourself with thin wrists it may look more ridiculous than what others see.

  158. Ryan B

    Do you have any insight into actual product release date? I’m in Canada and originally I saw March 15th but now seeing end of April.

    • Ryan O'Hara

      I had one in order from Best Buy and was to arrive March 13th but got an email today saying they are having inventory issues.

  159. Walter

    The pictures on the official Garmin Websites are showing me a color of greyish/silver for the Whitestone version… but in your pictures the color of the watch seems much more on the White side. Im pritty sure that the reality is closer to the color of your pictures… this is a bit disappointing for me, since i would prefer a greyish/silver tone… therefore i will have to go with the black model.

  160. Yanick

    I was wondering if the sugested workout is updated after doing a workout?

    Ex: in the morning the suggested workout is a sprint workout. After completing that sprint workout. Your trainning readiness is change. Does this change the suggested workout for example base or recover workout so you could follow it for a second workout.

    • If you do the workout suggested, it won’t suggest anything else for the day, and tell you to recover.

      If you do something else that tanks Training Readiness, it’ll do the same (not suggest a workout and tell you to recover).