Garmin Forerunner 955 Series – What to expect on 1st June 2022

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Garmin Forerunner 955 Series – What models & features will we see?

This is a significant revision of similar, earlier content

 

Jabra Elite 85t Review SpecificationsWhilst it’s a secret in Garmin’s head office, it’s almost certainly no secret to regular readers that we’ll probably see a replacement 955 on Wednesday 1st June 2022. (My intel is soon afterwards)

This article looks in detail at what features & specifications might be in the Forerunner 955 Series.

We can expect some goodies by looking at how quickly Garmin introduce new features to catch up with those introduced by competitors. When Garmin have been outmanoeuvred they react swiftly eg to the novel TRACK feature introduced by Coros. Thus with other new features on the ELEMNT RIVAL triathlon watch and Polar Vantage 2, we might see them copied and improved for the 955. I’m specifically thinking of the Wahoo’s auto-transition feature, let’s come back to that in a minute.

You probably remember the last unimaginative triathlon watch release –  Garmin Forerunner 745 (aka 945s, non-Pro)? That was disappointing in its lack of new software features despite being an updated piece of hardware.

What was impressive to me were the new features that had already found their way into the 945 over the last 2 years months (list of new features) which include CIQ5 Support, Daily Suggested Workouts, Track Mode, Improved Recovery Calc, FE-C Control, UI improvements like in-place data field editing, virtual run activity profile, respiration features, swim features, PacePro and oHR for swimming. Even with my critical hat on I would have to say that is an impressive list of new features.

However, 945 owners have probably noticed that significant new features have been sparse on the ground over the last 6 months and their watches seeming to get slower for no apparent reason. #timeToUpgrade

Current State-of-Play

Consider the Fenix 7 line up. The triathlon watches will broadly match parts of that lineup but in an all-plastic, lighter shell

  • Fenix 7s – standard, solar, sapphire solar
  • Fenix 7 – standard, solar, sapphire solar
  • Fenix 7x – solar, sapphire solar
  • Epix 2 – AMOLED versions.
  • LTE

green represents where the 755 might eventually sit and bold/red represents where the 955 will sit. there will be no large version, probably no AMOLED version, and maybe an LTE version in 2023.

The Forerunner 945 might, to all intents and purposes, seem like a Fenix 5t Plus – ie it appears to be highly similar to the Fenix 5 Plus range but with a lightweight plastic shell for triathlon. Yet that is unfair as there were additional hardware boosts (Sony GNSS, ELEVATE v3) and there are UI improvements too.

The point of mentioning that is to also consider the elapsed time between the Fenix 5 Plus and the Forerunner 945. It was a fair amount of time. But now we are seeing Fenix 7 and Forerunner 955 released within 6 months of each other. It’s highly likely that the tech under the hood will be identical.

Now, the Fenix 7 has superior hardware to the Fenix 6 and even more superior hardware to the 5 plus series. Thus a 955 based on the Fenix 7 represents a significant jump of one and a half steps in Garmin’s evolutionary tech pathway. 955 is gonna run quick and super slick. Better than you’ve experienced on a Forerunner (I base that on my experience with the Fenix 7).

Interestingly we see Garmin extending their sector ranges to sometimes include a cheaper model based on Instinct and a model with AMOLED. Both of these are possibilities for the future of Forerunner 955 but I think Instinct is less likely as it then overlaps with the cheaper Forerunners.

Form & Overall Function

The existing Fenix button layout/ hardware interface works well and will not change significantly. However, the software user interface is clearly improving as we have seen with the Fenix 7, Epix 2 and other recent watches. Even the 945 had UI improvements over and above those on the FR935.

The optional touchscreens on the Epix/Fenix models work well outside of sport and I would expect them to find their way onto the 955 Series. Will all models get them now or just the solar model or will there be an even more expensive model released down the line with AMOLED and LTE?

Weights and dimensions will be slightly changed by a subtly different battery and other components.

Take Out: Notable hardware boosts and a fairly significant number of changes to the software UI. It’s highly unlikely we will see multiple variants of 955 other than Solar. At least for now.

On Screen Usability

Existing Forerunner 935 and FR945 owners might not realise the leaps and bounds made in improvements to the usability of the Fenix 7 and these will all make their way to the 955.

You will be very familiar with the overall flow between screens and options but many visual and physical changes have been made…some quite subtle. The end-point is that it just feels much better to use…everywhere. (based on F7)

Add to that a noticeably faster device and the usage experience is further boosted.

Then if the 955 or 955 solar (or both) get the touchscreen then that really helps flip through some of those stupidly long lists of menu options. A few screen flicks now take the place of 12 button presses of old. Again another boost.

There’s more.

The FR955 Series will generally let you make any setting on the Connect app as an alternative to the on-watch menus. I guess most of us will eventually end up using that a lot more down the line re-assured by the fact that we can make ’emergency’ changes an-the-go in the old fashioned way.

Take out: Significantly improved usability (to the point where I actually like it)

Cellular Connectivity

An ‘obvious’ market trend for Garmin to follow would be for the high-end of the Fenix/Forerunner ranges to have onboard cellular connectivity like the Vivoactive LTE. Whilst this will not take and receive phone calls on the watch nor stream music, perhaps the more important feature is 24×7 data connectivity. So we are NOT talking here about taking a call in the middle of your triathlon but rather having GROUP TRACK, LIVE TRACK and incident alerts enabled in your triathlon…without a smartphone.

However, no Fenix 7/Epix 2 variant has LTE.

Leaks of a 955LTE were, in fact, mistyped by some overzealous data input clerk in New Zealand celebrating the belated arrival of the 945 LTE. And that happened recently. LTE will probably come but not until Garmin clears its backlog of major updates and sorts out its supply chain problems.

Take Out: No LTE. Yet.

Garmin Forerunner 945 ReviewMusic

Music support is a standard feature. It now no longer merits much of a discussion…which is a hard fact for the competition to hear.

I could slate Garmin’s implementation of Music in OH SO MANY WAYS. However, the reality is that, for sports usage, it’s superior to everyone else. So, such criticism would be unfair and I’ll be nice. AFAIK Garmin’s platform is ready for Google and Apple to integrate their music services if they want to. I can’t see Apple doing that (you never know) but I DO expect YouTube Music to come to the 955 in 2022.

AFAIK no smartwatch has a high definition playback codec like AptX HD and I don’t expect the 955 to have that either.

Take Out: Same old music features included as standard which ore more easily used with a touchscreen than before with buttons.

Garmin Forerunner 945 ReviewContactless Payment

I’ve not followed this too closely but it looks like Garmin’s global adoption of new banks has slowed recently.

As contactless payments make their way down to Garmin’s lower models and transaction volumes increase then Garmin will be a more important source of revenue for the banks and Garmin Pay will become more important to Garmin. Hence the take-on of new banks will continue, albeit slowly.

Don’t expect to see Garmin support a payment provider like ‘Generic Visa’. Apple and Google can and do that. Garmin likely won’t or can’t.

Take Out: Same old, same old. Slightly easier usage with a touchscreen.

Garmin Forerunner 945 ReviewOptical Heart Rate

Version 4 of ELEVATE is the go-to, new oHR sensor for Garmin in 2022. It will be on the 955 & 955 Solar

Take Out: The current ELEVATE v4 will be on the 955. It’s not much more accurate than before but may well use less power.

GNSS: GPS, Galileo & SBAS (GLONASS, GPS 3 and BDS too), L1/L2/L5(a)

All System plsu Multi-Band reception is already in the Fenix 7 Sapphire and Epix 2 Sapphire. It really IS the  most accurate GNSS ever (from a Garmin critic..me)

Garmin recently got GPS+GLONASS to an optimal state with the Sony chipset, that wasn’t that accurate, so it was time to change suppliers to Airoha/MediaTek.

Dual Frequency (L1, L5) plus all constellations (GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo) is used on the Airoha chipset that the Fenix 7/Epix uses and its the most accurate that Garmin has produced to date. Who knows, on the plastic 955 GNSS reception might even be a tad better than the Fenix?

Take Out: GNSS improvements will be delivered by the new Airoha sensor

 

Onboard Sensors & 3rd Party Sensor Support

I think we are pretty much ‘there’ with 3rd party sensor support for the Garmin Forerunner 945.

With the arrival of the HRM-PRO, all major Garmin sensors except the running pods & tempe now broadcast in ANT+ and BLE.

Garmin might make a physical pod that is a STRYD competitor but is far, far more likely to introduce a wrist-based calculation of running power. Mainly because Garmin already did that with their own running power CIQ app

We’ve seen that Supersapiens blood glucose has not yet made its way onto Epix 2/Fenix 7 via CIQ but I know Supersapiens are working on it. By the same token, this will only be available on the 955 when it is ported to the Fenix 7.

As of now, the ANT+ spec IS being extended but I only know that the extension at least includes BODY/CORE temperature. I’m unsure if it will include a native ANT+ Running Power profile.

Take Out: Probably nothing major to see here. I am hopeful of running power becoming native.

Garmin Forerunner 945 935

Screen Size & Resolution

Screen size will be increased at the expense of the bezel around it and as a result resolution will increase although pixel density will be unchanged. This is a good change that will aid 4-metric readability for those of us that wear glasses.

Take Out: The display size will match the Fenix 7. Namely 1.3″ with 260x260px resolution.. 

Battery

Battery life will broadly match the Fenix 7, namely:

  • Smartwatch: Up to 18 days (up from 36 hours)
  • Battery saver watch mode: Up to 57 days
  • GPS Only: Up to 57 hours (up from 36 hours)
  • All Satellite Systems: Up to 40 hours
  • All Satellite Systems and Music: Up to 10 hours (same duration as before with GPS-only)
  • Max Battery GPS: Up to 136 hours

Fenix 7 sees big improvements in battery performance and further improvements with the solar models.

Take out: 955 will mirror the improvements of the Fenix 7

New Software Features

The Fenix saw the addition of Stamina and FR955 gets that as well. I expect one notably triathlon-related feature to be added. But which one? The FR955 release date matches the release date of the FR255. These are the mainstays of Garmin’s FITNESS division and in a different division to Fenix (OUTDOORS). Internally FITNESS will want at least on new software feature to announce over and above STAMINA.

Stamina

This is the recently added ‘How much oomph is left in your tank’ feature. More seriously explained details here! It’s a GOOD feature if you have your zones correctly set.

Stamina : What is Garmin’s new Stamina metric?

 

You can only slice and dice data in so many ways. However, I think there is still quite a bit of scope for Garmin to think harder about what they do with positional and accelerometer data. They can also consider how various aspects of triathlon could be automated. With a little more thought, they might come up with things like this that might even be USEFUL

Auto-Transition

Wahoo has done this already in their Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL triathlon watch and a similar feature was bandied about IN OFFICIAL GARMIN LITERATURE for the MARQ ATHLETE but I never saw it written about or used. Maybe it never even made it to the final watch?

Take Out: Only expect to see one MAJOR new software feature in the 955 at launch. Maybe that’s the native running power which will also keep runners happy OR MAYBE ITS AUTO TRANSITION.

Transition Dynamics

OK, this is just a fancy way of actually measuring how long you stand still to change your clothes. You uber-competitive types could also use this first thing in the morning 😉

Clearly, you can’t compare T1 times from one race to another as the distances vary each time. But the time taken within T1/T2 to find your racking position, get changed and head off should be able to be relatively easily estimated by accelerometers.

If someone at Garmin HQ wanted to get clever they could even guess in what order you changed your items of clothing in transition.

Perhaps we will see a metric for ‘stationary time’ during transition?

Take Out: nah

Garmin Forerunner 945 ReviewRace Intelligence – Performance Tracking

Garmin introduced Livetrack 2.0 in August 2020. which included references and features linked to Event Sharing.

Once we get LTE on the 955 then there’s no reason why Group Track and Live Track can’t be FURTHER extended to sensibly broadcast more detailed stats during a race eg 10-minute bike power splits, or whatever. But the beauty here is that these stats will eventually be combined online with everyone else who is doing the same race at the same time. Maybe that’s for your own interest or for the benefit of your coach to give in-race feedback (probably against the rules).

For this to work there needs to be some definition of what an ‘event’ is and for people to sign up to digital data sharing for it. I can’t see Garmin doing that so let’s see if anyone in Silicon Valley is listening.

Even if getting a true leaderboard might be difficult, as not everyone will share data, there would still be scope to compare certain elements of your performance against others on the same day in the same conditions and those kinds of comparative race-day stats will be of value to those who see themselves as wanting to get faster in some way.

There are issues around spotting cheats and anonymising data but such data is the sort of thing we clamour for from the pros so let’s start off with the amateurs doing it.

With tens of thousands of UK parkrunners ‘racing’ each week and tens of thousands of athletes at the well-known mass-participation events, there really are quite a lot of people that could use race-based tracking intelligence.

I guess you could apply similar competitive stats around your Group Track Sunday bike rides and the like.

Take out: There is a reasonable chance that we will see an extension of the existing broadcast of personal performance metrics. However, it will probably take a 3rd party  to provide a platform to start sharing such data

Location Intelligence – for races and training

Be it an unusually-distanced pool or a well-planned Ironman event Garmin, or a 3rd party,  can have intelligence automatically linked to that location. So when you start swimming, the pool length is just correct or when you start racing the course profile and route is automatically on your watch/bike.

Take out: A nice-to-have that’s probably expensive or tricky to implement, so it won’t happen.

True Laps

If you run 1km intervals that are 980m or 1010m then it’s just that little bit annoying that the watch hasn’t recognised the TRUE effort+duration. It’s not that the 10m or 20m more/less than I intended makes any difference physiologically it’s because the recorded lap will have incorrectly averaged data eg if you stop a couple of metres or seconds too early then the lap average stats become wrong and it becomes hard to compare your lap-on-lap efforts when you later analyse your stats. It would be much easier if the lap could be determined based on effort/power/speed ie once the power drops then take an automatic lap either in real-time or modified once the workout has finished.

Cyclists with power meters know that after a while it’s all about power-duration. I certainly now look much more at power-durations than power averages for a lap.

Golden Cheetah is able to auto-identify effort periods by analysing the workout, so the maths are out there and known and probably somewhere on GitHub. The difficulty with implementing this type of functionality is that there can be multiple layers of ‘true laps’ of different time periods that overlap each other. It’s difficult to explain quickly here but some clever person at Garmin could figure it out easily enough.

Take Out: maybe. It’s definitely a useful ‘pro’ metric. Plus Polar and Suunto do something similar already ;-).

True Climbs

Hammerhead has introduced climb predictions based on simply where you are heading on a map. The FR955 will have an onboard map. Garmin will definitely create a similar feature but I would strongly suspect it first gets released on the Edge 1040  and Edge 1040 Explore in July. It will find its way to FR955 later in the year.

Take out: ClimbPro will be extended at some point and features will make it to the FR955.

Auto Performance Alerting

This is different to being alerted to exceeding a pre-defined performance criterion. It’s more about that criterion being dynamic and changing based on performance.

Whilst automatic gear selection based on power is probably a gadget too far, a nice CIQ app would tell you that you are a couple of cogs away from optimal. There are similar things to this already out there – for example, a XERT’s free CIQ app suggests optimal cadence for the current effort level.

Special, dynamic, alerts could be introduced to warn you of detrimental performance. eg sprinting for the first 200m of a 5k race at your 800m pace might signal an ‘irrational exuberance alert”

Take out: this maybe could be an extension to stamina. not for now though.

Voice Control

“OK Garmin, take a lap”

One day this will happen. Hopefully not too soon. I talked about this in more detail recently (here).

Having said that I do use ‘OK Google’ a fair bit at home and whenever I’m using a WearOS watch I will sometimes use that rather than one of the house’s WiFi Speakers/Mics. I’d probably use ‘OK Garmin’ on my 955 if I’m sadly honest but I certainly would never admit to that 😉

Sometimes I faff around trying to remember which earbud to press to skip some errant song that has appeared on my playlist when in mid-run. I can never quite remember which earbud it is that I need to press and then inevitably turn them both off. ‘OK Garmin skip track’ might be a nicer and more elegant solution for me. Sorry, I now realise I have lost what little serious sports credibility I once imagined I had 😉 .

You get the point tho. Someone somewhere will use it both for in-sport functionality as well as for controlling smart homes and just generally querying the net. In the link at the start of this section, there is a little more discussion around voice-enabled navigation which is a valid use of voice tech in sports watches.

Take Out: Hold your breath, it might come. Take a DEEP breath. But it won’t be there at launch, maybe 2023? If ever.

Running Power Integration

Rather than a new pod, it’s more likely that we will see Garmin introduce running power calculated on the wrist without a pod coupled with an introduction of full platform support for native running power.

Running power data is currently incorporated into the Garmin data environment via CIQ. So running power is DIFFERENT from cycling power and running pace and heart rate and everything else. That’s why, for example, you can’t currently get native Running Power Alerts. Running Power doesn’t ‘plug in’ in quite the same way. Worst still, Garmin running power and STRYD running power are different buckets of data and based on different algorithms and based on different source sensor data.

Take Out: Yep. 2022 Baby! But as each month passes I doubt my intel more and more.

Intelligent Training: Firstbeat, Xert and more

When this article was first written I didn’t imagine that Garmin would buy Firstbeat. But they did and then they release Daily Suggested Workouts which is exactly the Intelligent Training I had hoped for and which has been rolled out from bike-only training on the recent Edges to now include daily running suggestions.

However, there is still more to come here. Intelligent Training is perhaps the major area where much remains to be exploited and it’s an area where the technology and formulae already exist. It’s ‘just’ a case of someone, somewhere writing all the correct and clever bits of code to make it happen. I’d class intelligent training as covering things like adaptive training plans (macro); adaptive workouts (micro); and real-time, intelligent audio coaching feedback.

Learning from your historic workout patterns (for rest and long run days) and then trying to hit a workout TE goal is ‘very 2018’. Intelligently adapted micro workouts would look at AnTE, AeTE, HRV and considerations like Xert’s MPA and micro recovery algorithms. See! I told you it wasn’t easy. Garmin is still doing the 2018 stuff…most other people are behind that.

2021 saw the arrival of DFA analyses. I don’t expect any of these to make it into the 955. However these kinds of features will come soon but initially, it will mostly be from non-data scientists who are fudging the science to make it more accessible on wearables. If you want to know the sort of thing that can already be done with good data then look at AI Endurance.

Take Out: These features will be expanded by Garmin over time. But the likes of Humango and AI Endurance do them already.

Garmin Forerunner 945 ReviewNavigation

Navigation via TOPO maps is included in the current Fenix series – 945, 5 Plus, 5S Plus, 5X Plus, MARQ, 6.

The 945 already has a DEM database of the elevation of GNSS points

You can only get from A to B in so many ways. They are already pretty much ‘invented’ and ‘out there’.

“The future will be about the intelligence and functionality built into geographic points rather than how to get to them.” that was my prediction a couple of years ago and we saw on the Fenix 7 this year that upcoming POI info was added.

Fumbling with a watch in the wet, in winter, with gloves is a PITA. “OK Garmin, navigate back to start as quickly as possible”…just sayin’, that choice control could be useful for all of us sometimes 😉

Take Out: Navigation is Garmin’s thing. Improvements will always come

Other

 

Thoughts and votes welcomed…This is an old poll with 3300 votes for improvements that readers wanted from the 935 onwards. It’s worth seeing what was wanted then…and still not delivered upon. ‘Accuracy’ has hopefully been ticked off


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5 thoughts on “Garmin Forerunner 955 Series – What to expect on 1st June 2022

  1. Nice overall summary, apart from the larger 1.3″/260×260 screen I can’t see too much to be excited about…

    PS – small typo in “It now no longer merits mcuh of a discussion”

    1. ty appreciate the typo corrections
      i re-read things several times but Grammarly doesn’t spot them all

      excitement: mostly it’s a totally new watch!…just that the features are almost unchanged as of now. the 945 feature set has only been moving along very very slowly and this will get slower. perhaps with it now not getting any new BIG feature.
      just like f7, the 955 is the platform for the new features.

  2. Fenix 7 still has bluetooth smart in it’s specs. That’s bluetooth 4.0. Either garmin couldn’t be bothered to give correct specs or they couldn’t be bothered to use a better bluetooth chip.
    I’m still fine with my forerunner 935 but the bluetoothconnection is really annoying and I wish garmin would improve on that in stead of adding more data which most people want but just collect and not really use.

      1. I use an iPhone. Almost every morning I have to reconnect my watch. Sometimes my watch says it’s connected, the garmin app says it’s connected and my iPhone says it’s connection but notifications don’t appear on my watch. And when i try to sync I only see a spinning thing in garmin connect but no data is transferred. I have to turn bluetooth off and on again on my iPhone to make it work again.

        (Yes, tried all the obvious things, like removing and reconnecting and factory reset the watch. My previous iPhone se had the same as my current iPhone 12)

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