Don’t Buy The Forerunner 955 – Here’s Why

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Garmin Forerunner 955 Review StaminaReasons NOT to buy the Forerunner 955

Garmin’s latest Garmin Forerunner 955 is definitely the best triathlon watch ever, at least it is if you value the most number of features. I’ve written a glowing review of the Garmin Forerunner 955 here, I have one, I love it, I sleep with it! and it will be my main triathlon watch for 2022.

However, my job today is to persuade you not to buy one.

Aesthetics

The FR955 has the same aesthetic as recent forerunners, so you either love or loathe that. But something has changed with the looks of the 955, two things in fact.

Firstly the solar charging ring around the watch face creates an optical illusion to make the screen area look the same size as on the smaller FR945, it’s not…the 955’s usable screen is bigger – the stats say it is 260x260px on the FR955 vs 240x240px on theFR945.

Secondly, the 955 has a slightly changed case size with a diameter that’s 0.5mm less and a depth that’s 0.7mm thicker – 46.5×46.5×14.4mm on the FR955 vs. 47x47x13.7mm on the FR945. You might assume that such trivial differences are just that…trivial. But no, the FR955 feels thicker and looks thicker and the proportions seem wrong. Maybe I’m just used to my old Forerunners? But the real downside to me is that I’m now just that little bit more nervous about slipping the FR955 under my wetsuit sleeve and ripping it due to the extra thickness.

On a more positive note, the slightly narrower diameter might just make those of us with thinner wrists feel more comfortable with the face size that the slightly smaller new model appears to present?

Garmin Forerunner 955 Review vs 945 comparison

Design Details

Other negative points include the word Forerunner etched into the side of the casing – that’s a bit naff but you can’t really see it, so I’m not too bothered there. But then comes the god-awful strap pins or, to be more precise, the lack of a QuickFit strap. The strap design is different from the FR935/FR945 and it’s no longer the case that you can simply unscrew the pins and replace the strap. The new strap pin design is interchangeable with Quickfit straps but for $500 I expect a QuickFit strap out-of-the-box.

Other Model-based Issues

Once again there is no smaller-wristed version. The lesser-wristed humans will have to wait for a 755 (aka 955s) and when will that be? 2023 would be my guess ie, not this season.

Maybe you want a bit of extra safety tech and are drawn by LTE so that you can send safety alerts without having to carry your phone? Sorry. No can do. Garmins are only sold to people who either have no safety concerns or who love lugging a phone around with them.

The watch has a backlight that automatically fires up with a wrist turn and that works well. Nevertheless, the screen remains a bit dull. Sure you can crank the backlight up to 100% but that hits the battery life stats big time.

The final hardware-based issue is the lack of an AMOLED screen. In many ways, this would make a perfect watch for me as I love the high resolution, colourful AMOLED screen on the Epix 2. To be fair AMOLED on the 955 with GPS accuracy set to max really would kill the battery…but I still want it.

CIQ Apps

If you buy an FR955 today then there is a lack of CIQ apps, watch faces and data fields that will work. In many cases, it’s just that the apps have not been certified with the latest generation of watches but there are also other differences that, for example, have stopped Supersapiens from being able to offer compatibility right now.

This is a perennial problem that Garmin gets wrong with the launch of every new watch. Or at least it seems that way to me.

Battery Life

Solar – why? Why does a watch that can take you through two consecutive Ironman races without a re-charge need solar charging? Maybe it’s because the battery life isn’t quite as claimed and that the batteries will, for sure, degrade over time.

The headline and official battery life stats are impressive but what I get so far seems to be less than what the stats suggest.  For example, I should be getting 20 hours of GPS recording time with accuracy cranked up to the max and I’m finding that after an hour run under dense tree cover with the occasional look at a map that the battery is more notably depleted.

Here is an example I’m talking about

But even in better GPS reception conditions I’m still not getting 20 hours. Indeed a 2-hour ride yesterday showed an improved burn rate of just over 5% per hour but that still equated to a 19-hour battery life and not the claimed 20 hours. And this is a brand, spanking new battery. It’s only going to get worse as the battery degrades.

Usage

The training readiness metric superficially looks useful. It relies on all these factors in its calculations: sleep, recovery time, HRV status, Acute Load, sleep history and stress history. You simply have to wear the watch almost all of the time to get these metrics. Will you? Will you wear a sports watch with a weird-looking solar ring and no AMOLED screen for work? If not the stats will be wrong, even more so if you also don’t wear it to bed.

If you’re not going to use the physiology stuff, just buy a second-hand Garmin 935.

Running Power

I’ve used Stryd for many years and have years of consistent running power data as a result. That all still works 100% as before with Stryd on the Forerunner 955 (yes, even their CIQ stuff works!)

However, Garmin’s new native running power remains proprietary. Garmin’s calculations simply don’t match those from Stryd plus Garmin Running Power simply cannot be correct as, for starters, Garmin use weather reports and GPS pace as inputs into their calculations. You can pontificate all you like to the contrary but those two inputs won’t be accurate. (FWIW: I’ve never said Stryd power is accurate)

Once again Garmin ignores Stryd’s running power ecosystem that over 100,000 runners probably use. In contrast to previous years, when Garmin managed to add ANT+ support for SmO2 and (soon) core temperature sensors both of which combined certainly have nowhere near 100,000 users.

Availability

Availability now seems to be improving for the all-black, non-solar model.

Garmin Forerunner 955 – $500, Eu 575, £480
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar – $600, Eu660, £550

Buy Garmin Epix 2 from this Review

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gingerneil

Thats a bit cheeky of Garmin if they are holding the non-solar black ones back! I have a 15% coupon I’m waiting to use – so lets hope they release stock before the end of June when that runs out!!
Do you have a a 945 handy for a comparison shot ? I’ve yet to see them side by side…

(also – typo – you say the 955 is thicker but you’ve messed up the dimensions and have the 945 thickness against the 955…)

gingerneil

That’s a strange optical illusion – the 955 looks larger than the 945!

gingerneil

Probably down to the different shape of the bezel. The angle on the 945 makes the screen look smaller.

Back on the subject of battery… any idea yet on the impact of navigating a course? I’m keen to see how much I could get out of it when I need to follow a route. Drain seems to vary so much on my 945 – some days the same route will hammer the battery and other days its about half! So despite asking for any observations, I’m also aware of the heavy YMMV caveat!

gingerneil

cheers. 🙂

gingerneil

That sounds fantastic. I ran a 14hr 100k last year, and hoping to better that in August to around 12hrs. Battery >20hrs would give me a pretty good margin of error on the battery lasting the whole event. I’ll do some testing myself too with the map showing – but hoping it wont make too much of a difference. My device has landed in the local DPD pickup shop.. 🙂
My 945 needed charging twice on the event last year and was losing 10-15% an hour!!

webvan

Any chance of a “vertical” picture to see the height difference ? Thanks !

webvan

Maybe side by side without the straps to see how they “stack” up ?

webvan

Thanks ! Well that’s a pretty spectacular difference as I feared, well I suppose you can get used to it !

gingerneil

wow – looks quite a lot more chunky!

webvan

Yeah, it’s gone the way of the Fenix…not sure why they had to do that. I also quite liked the large screw in pins, more “elongated” look, and sturdier too in extreme situations.

zfJames

He doesn’t have any information on “holding back stock;” that’s completely unfounded

gingerneil

sportsshoes.com got stock back in of the black non-solar late on Tuesday evening. They had replied to an email earlier in the day saying they had no expected date, and it may be later in June – so good job I kept checking.
Didnt see much point in the solar version in the uk, with marginal benefit to battery life.

Alberto

About the Supersapiens CIQ app, the last version works with latest Garmin watches(of course not the 955 yet) except the epix 2(they have forgotten it)

Sam

Sounds like 255[s] is the way to go this generation, as long as you don’t need maps/golf. I’d just like to find these in a store somewhere to try on rather than ordering blindly online.

gingerneil

Such a shame that the 255 doesn’t have maps. The proper full maps have saved me many times in strange places, and for ultras I now wouldn’t be without them. Garmin have to differentiate somehow, but those maps are going to cost me!

gingerneil

I think 90% of the time, the general direction and upcoming turns are enough. The breadcrumb worked fine for me on the 935. However, its that 10% where you need to know where you are going at a junction and need the context of other things around – thats when the full maps become essential. In cases like that, if I need to, I’m happy to zoom in on the watch to get the level of detail I need rather than having a larger watch.

ekutter

Boy, that was a 180 from your last post on the 955. I’m sure hoping they get True Up working for all the advanced readiness metrics, as you are correct that it needs to be your 24/7 watch to make the most of the new features. As for running power, I don’t think the problem is so much Garmin and Stryd’s numbers don’t match, but that there isn’t a good understanding of exactly what Running power is. Unless Garmin chose to embrace Stryd’s definition, this problem was inevitable. I actually think it’s better they didn’t make it more seamless to mix third party power data in with Garmin power data as that would have confused things even more. Lots of internal metrics dependent on the power numbers, so how do create algorithms that work with such different results.

I still think it’s a big step up from the 945, but Garmin has their work cut out to fix the rough edges and make it play more seamless when you have multiple watches you want to switch between. I too would have loved to see a version more in the size of the 945lte, and/or with an AMOLED display.

webvan

The proportions look wrong on the 955 don’t they, a bit like on the Fenix watches, hockey puck style…The flat bezel vs beveled on previous models doesn’t help.

Fortunately there is no Amoled version as I would probably have had to upgrade my Venu2 + Edge 530 combo against my better judgment as the V2 has the perfect form factor, and I don’t swim.

You mentioned Stamina with Power Meters the other day, is that the metric it uses (vs HR for running) when you’re cycling ?

Brian Reiter

Can Stryd survive when every manufacturer has running power as a built-in feature?

It doesn’t necessarily matter if they have a better or more accurate implementation. It has to be better enough to overcome the possibly good enough built-in.

Brian Reiter

Dual power is an interesting idea. It would be something to clearly differentiate from all the other implementations which mostly work from the wrist without an accessory.

The one Running Dynamics feature that is remotely useful IMO is L/R balance which Garmin has. The gauge is stupid because you cannot consciously control L/R balance. But you can use it to monitor your core strength is balanced or unbalanced.

I think there is an appeal to be made to masters runners here to detect, diagnose imbalances and prescribe exercises to prevent injury. Masters runners generally have the money to spend and are more prone to injury than younger runners.

Stephane

Thank you for your perspective! Greatly appreciated, and changes from the always so positive reviews these days!

I am hesitating A LOT between the Epix and FR 955 Solar and would like your opinion, since you have both. Price aside, on one side, I love the Amoled of the Epix, on the other weight and battery of the 955 are nice to have. I can live with charging my watch every 5-6 days, then the question is how much more comfortable (or lighter) is the FR 955 vs. Epix? I know 20 grams, but is it noticeable? Considering it is “required” to wear these watches 24-7 I am bit concerned about comfort. I own a Fenix 5 Plus, so got used to the weight, but wouldn’t complain owning a lighter watch. However, with FR 955 becoming bulkier (almost identical dimension as the Epix), it really comes down to weight vs. Amoled.

Thanks!

webvan

The black non-solar FR955 is now available on Wiggle !

dc45

Amazon doesn’t seem to have any 955s right now at all… anyone know why?

dc45

Makes sense, thanks. Any one have a trusted US based store that has availability? I’m leary of some of the sites that pop up when I search.

Michael

Wrong – the FR955 is the best watch you can buy actually…
+ better screen visibility than Fenix 7
+ you dont like the solar ring? Buy the non-solar model (anyhow the ring looks more symphatic after a week or so)
+ CIQ-problems? no much work to use the existent prg files, I could transfer my apps within 5 minutes
+ wrong size? I am using Forerunner gadgets since the FR101, so common 😉

There are some points which aren’t perfect (connected to a PC don’t bring up a drive letter, EPO seems to be limited to two weeks, the watch buttons response is not identical in all cases) – bur these thing seem to be given on all newer Garmin watch series..

bobbywhobob

The biggest story hear is that the 955 has just two main benefits over the 945LTE: touchscreen and multi-band GPS. The 945LTE is going to get all the software features the 955 has. I think the 955 is a fine watch for someone coming from the 935/945 – but folks who have the 945LTE, well your investment was a good one. And it will be for at least another year.

erockem

945LTE user, my investment sucked as the Firmware released in November completely broke swim workouts. Waiting for the ‘June’ Firmware release to see if it is fixed because it wasn’t in April. Active case with developers over it. Who needs working swim workouts on a tri watch? Otherwise, dumping for the 955 Solar.

the6k runner

implementation of the solar charging feature with a big empty ring looks a bit russian craftmanship, if Garmin copies other usually, they should have copied this from any solar cadio… chance failed as so often..

MikeD

I always say don’t buy garmine right after the premiere. It will be full of bugs and can be unstable. I lack touch on maps when trail running with my FR945 (which i very much like) so i did. Aaaand it happens. Cant use my old maps – it is crashing. It even crashed when Glance Pro was installed. Doesnt have my favorite WF ported (and stock are garbage as always). Doesnt have my favorite apps, widgets and ciq fields. And everything feel like late beta in that software. I was never so dissapointed (and i have a lot of garmins for runinng, starting from FR305).

tom

Screen visibility. 955 – epix 2, you have both Can you post a photo side by side ?

Jacob

yes please, do it

Leo

I’ve got a couple more. I’ve asked Garmin with bluetooth version the 955 got. They can’t tell. Really! They can’t. I asked Dutch support, but those are really morons (I asked for the bluetooth version and they replied with a link to the bluetooth troubleshoot page. After simplifying my question they replied they don’t know.) I also asked USA support. They don’t know either, but the one I chat with said syncing a marathon fit file takes minutes, so I can only asume it’s still the very old bluetooth 4. Garmin doesn’t dare to give you a number how long the battery last (in years). Apple will tell you their Applewatch will have 80% capacity after 1000 cargecycles. The support USA support dude told me to expect 3 to 5 years but could clarify what that means. (5 years usage with 1 charge a week is only 250 chargecycles and my experience with a forerunner 935 and a fenix 5s is that less than 50% capacity is left) It still uses the same charge connector which I find very fragile. It happens quite a lot that I plug the cable in my watch and after an hour find the cable… Read more »

Leo

Good find!

Guest

My FR955 just arrived and it’s a disappointment. The battery has discharged 30% over night. And by additional 10% over the day when I was not wearing them. I did upgrade to the latest FW and otherwise everything is in factory “default”.

Also I must say that I find my old FR935 better on these points:

  • sleeker design
  • better buttons
  • bigger default watch face font
  • nicer menu (955 cuts corners of the text in menu for everything except the center line)

It’s probably time to look at Coros 🙁 I really liked Garmin at its 935 incarnation. But now I need a bigger battery.

hanwha

You did say STRYD was “freakingly accurate” in this article https://the5krunner.com/2017/11/23/garmin-935-review-best-tri-watch/

Rui Pereira

I would agree, Stryd is very good and gives consistent data. Not sure you need it for training, could go with HR or pace based trainings with not much difference, but it’s invaluable for trail running and treadmill workouts, especially if you travel a lot (and use gym treadmills you don’t know). I would prefer to go with a 255 and buy a Stryd, than just rely on a 955.

msquared

FR945 did not come with QuickFit strap. I don’t ever recall an FR9XX ever coming with QuickFit. So why count that against the 955? You also realize this adds about 10 grams to the watch, which would make the 955 unjustly appear significantly heavier than 945.

Fabian

Which feature does the 945 lte get from the 955?

FlipStone

Meh, I see the point of the article is to bring out the negatives (and that’s a good thing, they are often not mentioned enough giving people a wrong idea) but can’t help to respond (owning the FR955 solar for about 4 weeks now) Size: of course hard to object but can’t say I actually notice the difference. 0.5mm less diameter and 0.7mm thicker… That’s almost negligable Straps: still very easy to change. It just uses a pushpin vs screws, which arguably even makes it easier to change the straps as you don’t need the special screwdriver (and can’t lose the screws 😉 ). Not supplying a quickfit strap IS annoying, but they’ve never done it. Also, pricing on these new models compared to the 935 and 945 is actually very good (base model the same as the 935 and even cheaper then the 945) Battery life: the watch only shows 1% battery increase/decrease which especially for shorter timeframes makes it hard to estimate. If it JUST depleted an extra percent it has a large impact on estimations. For me, I get ~5.25%/hr with all satelites+multiband AND a maps/navigation screen on all the time over a 2.5hr activity. Without maps… Read more »

tfk, the5krunner

yep i’m a mostly happy camper as well. my regret is buying the solar model – in the sense that the ring looks ugly but the extra few percents of charge it might give me will no doubt save the day at some point.

FlipStone

Haha, it’s all a matter of taste I guess… The looks of the solar (incl ring) was one of the reasons for me buying it. Find the huge black bezel without the ring very ugly.

tfk, the5krunner

true true!