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There isn’t a scarcity of common health and multisport smartwatches nowadays, however fewer catering hyper-specifically to runners, notably the best way the Garmin Forerunner 955 Photo voltaic does. This wearable sits on the high of Garmin’s Forerunner line and is jam-packed with useful coaching instruments, no scarcity of smartwatch options, and spectacular battery life. Garmin designed it with endurance athletes in thoughts, although it nonetheless gives many advantages for informal lovers. Following within the footsteps—or is that stride—of the Forerunner 945 (launched in 2019), the Forerunner 955 provides a number of incremental, not essentially important updates, in addition to a few marquee additions. I’ve examined the Garmin Forerunner 955 Photo voltaic for six months, giving me loads of time to be taught concerning the watch and whether or not it’s a worthy improve for most individuals.


The Garmin Forerunner 955 Photo voltaic’s design

The adjustments between the Forerunner 945 and Forerunner 955 are refined, carrying over many of the design language from the earlier iteration. However there are some things that stand out. For starters, the transflective memory-in-pixel (MiP) show has been upgraded. The 955 makes use of a 1.3-inch show with a decision of 260 x 260 pixels, whereas the older 945 is 1.2 inches with a decision of 240 x 240 pixels. It’s not an enormous distinction, however you’ll get a barely bigger show with the 955, which is sweet for fast glances at your numbers whereas figuring out. 

Probably the most notable change is that the 955 now options touchscreen capabilities, which the 945 didn’t. I appreciated the touchscreen performance, which is likely one of the predominant causes I’ve caught with the 955 over my Forerunner 745 or the Intuition 2S Photo voltaic. I’ve discovered that it makes scrolling via widgets and (sub-sub-sub)menu gadgets a lot simpler than repeatedly pushing buttons. And I take pleasure in tapping the display to enter a menu or view a notification extra. If you’re liable to by accident swiping, you’ll be able to flip spark off fully or select which particular actions have contact performance turned on (it defaults to off for all actions).

Garmin Forerunner 955 running watch widgets on screen
Practically all the pieces on the watch is customizable, however I like a widget with a abstract of my notifications close to the highest of the widget record. Abby Ferguson

Sadly, the case and included band are solely accessible in white (technically Whitestone, the model I’ve used) and black as an alternative of a variety of colours like different Garmin watches. I used to be a bit nervous concerning the white staying white. Fortunately I’ve been pleasantly shocked by it, even whereas engaged on a automotive engine and getting fairly greasy. 

The band and enormous watch case are inclined to entice water, although, so when you bathe or swim within the watch, it would be best to take it off to dry issues off extra completely. I wore my Forerunner 955 for a handful of weeks nonstop and ended up with a little bit of a response the place the sensors are. It was minor and cleared up with a while sans watch, however it’s one thing to pay attention to. 

Whereas the Forerunner continues to be decidedly a health watch in design, it nonetheless has quite glossy appears. And contemplating all of the tech that’s packed inside, it’s impressively skinny (14.4mm). It nonetheless appears large on my wrist, however that’s the trade-off while you wish to make the most of a big display dimension on child-sized wrists. 

Supplies

The bezel of the watch is fabricated from fiber-reinforced polymer, which appears to be extremely sturdy. I’ve hit this factor on exhausting surfaces far too many occasions, and the perimeter doesn’t have a scratch. One of many advantages of the all-plastic design is that it helps lower down on weight. The all-polymer Forerunner 955 solely weighs 1.86 ounces. For comparability, the fēnix 7 Sapphire Photo voltaic includes a titanium bezel and fiber-reinforced polymer with a titanium rear cowl, weighing 2.57 ounces. That will look like a tiny quantity, however for critical endurance athletes, each fraction of an oz. provides up, making the Forerunner the higher alternative for these people.

Topping the show is rugged Corning Gorilla Glass DX. I managed to scratch mine someway, so it isn’t impenetrable, however I haven’t precisely babied it both. It could have been good to get the extra sturdy Energy Sapphire glass that tops the fēnix 7 Sapphire Photo voltaic or the Sapphire version of the Garmin epix (Gen 2).

Garmin Forerunner 955 running watch catching the light on its crystal
You possibly can see two scratches on the left aspect of the watch face, regardless of the scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass DX. Abby Ferguson

Lastly, the band of the watch is fabricated from silicone. The silicone is a bit thick and, as talked about, tends to entice moisture, so will not be for everybody. Fortunately, it’s Garmin QuickFit appropriate within the 22mm dimension so you should purchase bands fabricated from nylon, leather-based, steel, or titanium as an alternative, do you have to want. 

Establishing the Garmin Forerunner 955 Photo voltaic

Garmin constantly does a unbelievable job of constructing its merchandise straightforward to arrange and use and stays according to the Forerunner 955. That is very true if you’re already a Garmin consumer. The watch comes with a partial cost to be able to get began straight away. You’ll must obtain the Garmin Join app, however the watch walks you thru all the mandatory steps, making setup clear and confusion-free. It’s a quick course of when you do the naked minimal for setup.

The place issues get a bit extra difficult is the entire personalization accessible on the watch. Whilst you definitely don’t must mess with most settings simply to get began, there are seemingly infinite choices—with extra added semi-regularly. I admire Garmin’s Auto Replace—it saves me from having to recollect to verify for OS updates, which I often overlook—and I really feel like I’m usually discovering new issues in menus or within the post-workout show, which is all the time enjoyable. 

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The watch face might be absolutely adjusted, as can any of the seen widgets while you scroll down and the structure of every exercise display. You possibly can even regulate issues as nitty-gritty as accent and background colours. If you wish to actually fine-tune your watch, it might take some time. In truth, I’ve had this look ahead to round six months and I’m nonetheless tweaking issues.

The Garmin Forerunner 955 Photo voltaic’s options

The Forerunner 955 Photo voltaic is so full of options that I might simply write a complete e-book describing all the pieces. It appears that evidently the capabilities of this watch are practically infinite. As such, I’ll be specializing in the gadgets that I used most steadily and people which might be essentially the most extensively useful. 

Garmin Forerunner 955 side view on wrist
Although they’re tiny and a bit of exhausting to see, the icons on the Garmin Forerunner 955 buttons may help with navigation. Abby Ferguson

Usability 

Navigating the watch is fairly simple, particularly when you’ve used a Garmin watch. There are tiny (and exhausting to see) labels on the bezel and the buttons themselves to level you in the proper route for the most typical stuff you’ll must entry. However, for particular menu gadgets, you’ll possible must spend a while digging round or studying the handbook.

My greatest criticism concerning the Forerunner 955 is the way you flip it on and off. My different Garmin watches have merely concerned going to the Energy Off menu merchandise, and that was that. However the Forerunner 955 asks you to take the additional step of confirming that you just wish to flip it off. On condition that you need to go right into a menu inside a menu to get to this, it appears unlikely that you’d by accident flip it off. The additional step is refined however annoying. 

Moreover, startup time is far slower. Certain, extra tech is concerned within the Forerunner 955, however it takes simply over 20 seconds to activate absolutely. It’s nit-picky, positive, but when I’m powering as much as get happening a run, it’s a bit annoying to attend for that, particularly when that hasn’t been the case on different watches I’ve used.

Information assortment and insights

Being on the high of Garmin’s operating watch line, the Forerunner 955 comes with nearly each doable sensor packed inside. It options the Garmin Elevate Gen4 optical coronary heart price sensor, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, and pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor. These sensors are, after all, used when recording an exercise, however many are continually recording information. For instance, you’ll be able to all the time verify your coronary heart price and steps. And you may take a pulse ox studying on-demand or whereas sleeping.

All of these sensor readings are used to supply insights corresponding to Coaching Standing, Coaching Readiness, stress degree, sleep information, and Physique Battery. It additionally gives hyper-specific stats corresponding to run cadence, stride size, vertical ratio, floor contact time, and extra. The data is there to assist information your coaching to maximise your health and doubtlessly even assess kind points.

Garmin Forerunner 955 suggesting you take a breath
When the watch detects abnormally excessive stress ranges, it suggests a guided respiration train to settle down.  Abby Ferguson

The information collected additionally helps handle common well being with options corresponding to Irregular Coronary heart Fee alerts. For instance, in case your coronary heart price is abnormally excessive, the watch will recommend respiration workout routines to scale back stress and enable you settle down. I’ve discovered this to be a useful software in high-stress conditions, because it jogs my memory to reset and mentally take a step again from the factor inflicting the stress.

GPS

For location monitoring and mapping, the Forerunner 955 gives entry to a few International Navigation Satellite tv for pc Programs (GNSS)—GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo. There are 4 settings to select from—GPS solely, All Programs, All Programs + Multi-Band, and Ultratrac—which differ in accuracy and influence on battery life. Ultratrac is the mode for multiday excursions because it gives one of the best battery life however the worst accuracy. The watch defaults to All + Multi-Band GPS for essentially the most correct outcomes.

The watch additionally comes geared up with Garmin’s SatIQ, which determines the optimum GPS mode primarily based in your atmosphere. And new to the 955 is the dual-frequency GPS. This combines the All Programs possibility however then additionally connects to 2 satellites directly for distinctive accuracy, even when in canyons or a metropolis. It does use rather more battery, nevertheless. 

I solely used the watch in fairly broad open areas however discovered it to be very correct with no points. I in contrast it to information from a concurrently worn Intuition 2S Photo voltaic (a watch I’ve written extensively about), they usually had been the identical so far as my bare eye might inform. 

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar and Instinct 2S Solar side by side on a wrist
The Forerunner 955 Photo voltaic gives a way more vibrant, easier-to-see-at-a-glance show in comparison with the Intuition 2S Photo voltaic. And it could actually pack extra metrics in a single place because of the bigger display dimension. Abby Ferguson

Smartwatch options

Past that apparent health monitoring, the Forerunner 955 can be a sturdy productiveness associate. It may hook up with your telephone, permitting you to obtain messages and notifications. You possibly can even choose pre-formatted fast replies to textual content messages to reply proper out of your watch. 

The watch lacks a mobile connection and a microphone, nevertheless, so you can’t take calls like on an Apple Watch 8, and so forth. However you’ll be able to at the least see who is looking to find out if you wish to trouble getting your telephone out. And you may reject and reply to calls with pre-formatted messages as nicely. 

Past the fundamentals, you’ll additionally get entry to Garmin Pay, which lets you save playing cards to your account and pay together with your watch. That is nice, in principle, however my financial institution (USAA) isn’t collaborating in Garmin Pay, so I’ve been unable to make use of the look ahead to fee. Moreover, you’ll be able to join music suppliers, corresponding to Spotify, to save lots of music or podcasts on to your machine while you don’t wish to have your telephone on you. Once more, that is nice in principle, however I bumped into nothing however points when attempting to arrange music and by no means was in a position to get greater than a handful of songs to sync. So I haven’t actually been in a position to take a look at that characteristic efficiently.

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Security options

As somebody who largely runs alone, the security options of the Forerunner 955 are extraordinarily appreciated. And, according to the remainder of the watch, there’s no scarcity of them, both. It’s necessary to notice proper off the bat that you’ll want to have your related telephone with service on you to make the most of these options. And all of those options must be arrange inside the app with a purpose to be used. 

Probably the most primary characteristic permits the fundamental security tenet of out of doors recreation: Ensure that individuals know the place you’re and while you anticipate to be carried out. Once you start an exercise with GPS (weightlifting, for instance, will not be included), the watch connects to LiveTrack. This emails a real-time view of your location to your preselected contacts. Or you’ll be able to share a hyperlink (accessed by way of the app in your telephone) with anybody you’d like to allow them to observe alongside and guarantee you’re progressing as anticipated.

Moreover, there are some larger security options for much more peace of thoughts. One lets you shortly name for help straight from the watch with the press of some buttons. By coming into the menu accessed with the highest left button, you’ll be able to navigate to “Help.” As soon as there, there are three choices: “It’s an emergency. Please get assist,” “Not an emergency, however please choose me up,” and “I need assistance. Observe my location to seek out me.” 

Garmin Forerunner 955 running watch safety alerts screenshot
These messages had been despatched to my husband after I examined the Help characteristic. [The blurred-out sections are my GPS coordinates.] Abby Ferguson

I examined the “Not an emergency” possibility with my husband to see what would occur, and Garmin despatched him a message with the pre-formatted textual content together with my coordinates. It despatched him a number of messages till I chosen that I now not wanted help, which triggered a follow-up message to him to let him know I used to be okay. Whilst you do want your telephone to make the most of this characteristic, it makes it a lot quicker and simpler to get assist than getting out your telephone and texting or calling somebody. 

The final security characteristic you’ll have entry to is incident detection. In case your Forerunner 955 detects an incident, it would show a notification on the watch. If that isn’t dismissed promptly, it routinely sends a message together with your identify and placement to your emergency contacts. Sadly, Garmin doesn’t present any data on what this precisely means or the way it detects an incident, however in principle, this is a superb characteristic to have. It’s price noting that, in contrast to the Apple Watch Extremely, the Forerunner 955 can’t notify emergency providers for you because it doesn’t embrace a mobile connection just like the Apple Watch. 

Garmin app

Once you arrange the watch, you need to pair it to the Garmin Join app. The app permits you to see your information in additional element. After all, you’ll be able to entry most of your insights on the watch itself, however it’s a bit simpler to digest and sift via by way of the app, particularly when you actually wish to dive into the info.

The place the app actually is available in particularly useful is with customization. Nearly each setting can be modified inside the app as soon as you choose “Forerunner 955” from the Related Gadgets record. Altering settings and customizing issues by way of the app is a bit simpler to do than on the watch. That’s very true of the message and exercise information display settings. And a few issues, corresponding to Garmin Pay, can solely be arrange within the app.

Battery life

The battery lifetime of this watch is definitely one space the place the Forerunner 955 shines. As with something, the extent of the battery life is determined by how you’re utilizing the watch however, it doesn’t matter what, it’s spectacular. After all, it’s price stating that any photo voltaic battery life estimates talked about by Garmin are primarily based on “all-day put on with 3 hours per day exterior in 50,000 lux situations.” For somebody like me, who works inside and is fortunate to get exterior for an hour or two, which means I’m probably not getting any benefit from photo voltaic charging on a median day.

Garmin Forerunner 955 solar intensity screen
You possibly can simply see how a lot photo voltaic depth your watch is getting. Most of my day was spent inside and, thus, not getting the solar required for photo voltaic battery charging.  Abby Ferguson

Garmin guarantees 15 days of battery life in smartwatch mode or 20 days with photo voltaic. Throughout these occasions that I wasn’t in a position to train a lot and was utilizing the watch as, nicely, a watch, I used to be completely getting the promised battery life. As talked about, I’m not assembly the total required situations for photo voltaic charging, however I did get some boosts that resulted in a number of additional days. 

With the watch set to All Programs GNSS mode plus Multi-Band and with out music, Garmin says you’ll stand up to twenty hours, or 22 hours with photo voltaic. Since I didn’t full any prolonged (various hours) occasions whereas testing this watch, I didn’t absolutely push this to the boundaries. However, even with utilizing essentially the most correct GPS setting, I used to be in a position to get a 30-minute to an hour-or-so-long exercise in every day and nonetheless have my watch battery final a full week.

The factor that drained the battery most was fidgeting with the settings and downloading music to the watch. I went from 80% battery to simply 1% whereas attempting to get a single small playlist to sync absolutely over the course of some hours. So, when you aren’t in a scenario the place you’ll be able to cost your watch, it’s finest to save lots of the settings changes and music syncing for one more time. 

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Whereas the lengthy battery life is definitely appreciated, the factor I most love about my Forerunner 955 is how shortly it costs. I’m responsible of forgetting to cost it up when wanted on a far too common foundation. However I can plug it in as I prepare for a run and have it at 50% battery (relying on how low it was to start with) in simply 10 minutes or so. It’s loopy speedy.

The Garmin Forerunner 955 Photo voltaic’s exercise & health monitoring expertise

As anticipated, since this can be a operating watch, the exercise monitoring choices are sturdy. The 955 comes preloaded with the fundamental kinds of exercises—corresponding to operating, swimming, and biking—however you’ll be able to shortly add absolutely anything you’ll be able to consider, together with Extremely Run, eMTB, Backcountry Ski, and extra. You possibly can even create customized exercises or import exercises from third events like TrainingPeaks.

Garmin Forerunner 955 running watch recording strength training
Although it’s a operating watch, it could actually monitor nearly any sort of exercise. It even routinely detects units and reps throughout energy coaching exercises. Abby Ferguson

Recording exercises is extremely straightforward. It’s carried out by merely urgent the highest proper button, deciding on the kind of exercise, after which pushing begin. The place issues can get difficult, as talked about, is all of the customization you are able to do. You possibly can select to regulate what fields are displayed on the watch throughout your exercise, customise notifications and audio cues, together with many various choices particular to various kinds of exercises.

Coaching standing and readiness

As you full actions and put on your watch all through the day (and evening), Garmin collects information to supply insights into your coaching. The Coaching Standing characteristic exhibits whether or not you’re actively getting fitter (productive), holding regular, and even detraining (the worst). It may even let you know what kinds of actions it is best to add extra of to maximise your coaching. For instance, mine steadily tells me that I’ve a low cardio scarcity and must work in simpler runs.

Coaching Readiness is one other useful software. Because the identify implies, it helps you assess how prepared you’re in your coaching. It might recommend that you just again off and provides your self extra time to get well or that you’re ready to dive proper right into a critical exercise. It merely helps to maintain you from overtraining and offers you a extra clear image of your coaching load. 

Each are very good, however you’ll be able to’t take full benefit of them when you aren’t carrying your watch 24/7. For instance, to gather coronary heart price variability (HRV) information, you’ll must put on the watch when you sleep. I’m not a fan of sleeping in a watch, so I don’t get extremely correct information for a few of these fields in consequence.

Garmin Forerunner 955 suggested workout screen
Your first exercise of the day will present a steered exercise primarily based on information the watch has collected just lately. Abby Ferguson

Urged exercises

One characteristic I really like about Garmin watches is the “Urged Exercises” for operating or biking. These might be accessed within the Morning Report or while you begin a exercise. When offering these ideas, Garmin elements within the above gadgets, plus your Coaching Load & Load Focus, VO2 Max, and extra. The result’s that they’re custom-made to you. It then suggests a exercise to enhance your health primarily based on all that information. It’s nice for days while you don’t wish to take into consideration what it is best to do or if you would like one thing totally different however don’t wish to pay for a coach.

After all, these options ought to be taken with a grain of salt. Garmin doesn’t know if you’re getting over an sickness, coping with stress at work, or managing an harm. It may infer some issues primarily based on the info it collects, however it received’t be good. There have been many occasions that my watch steered a dash, VO2 Max, or long term when my physique couldn’t deal with that on the time. Your finest guess is to make use of all of it as a information, hearken to your physique, and, when you actually need outcomes, rent a coach.

So, who should purchase the Garmin Forerunner 955 Photo voltaic?

Because the watch’s identify suggests, the Forerunner is really a operating watch. Certain, it provides all the fundamental—and not-so-basic—watch features to make it appropriate for anybody wanting a smartwatch. However when you aren’t an train fanatic, you’ll be paying for a lot of options and tech that you just received’t really be utilizing.

And the intensive record of coaching options makes the watch extra appropriate for avid, centered runners seeking to enhance efficiency. It’s particularly helpful for runners competing in races. That mentioned, as somebody who’s at present extra of an informal runner than anything, I discovered it quite motivational and aspirational. I’m not at present coaching for any races and even pushing the boundaries exhausting (because of some nagging accidents), so whereas I don’t essentially care about issues just like the Race Prediction widget, it’s enjoyable to see these numbers altering after I’m according to my figuring out. On the identical time, the Forerunner 255 can present lots of the identical coaching and well being options for a median of $258 much less.

And, by way of the Photo voltaic capabilities, which come at a $100 surcharge, they don’t appear to supply a considerable sufficient enhance over the fundamental battery model for many. However when you’re one of many runners who can profit from the prolonged record of options packed into this watch, notably the touchscreen, the Garmin Forerunner 955 Photo voltaic might be a unbelievable coaching associate.