Garmin Forerunner 265 | Quick Review

forerunner 265Garmin Forerunner 265 Review

The best running watch back in 2022 was clearly the Garmin Forerunner 255. The question today is, “Has Garmin made it any better by adding a vivid, high-resolution touchscreen to the latest Forerunner 265?”

The answer is probably a resounding “Yes”, as the Forerunner 265 also borrows a few existing, high-end features that the 255 hasn’t got plus it looks prettier. I’d say Garmin has done just enough to make some FR255 owners think about upgrading and just enough to make occasional triathletes step back from the upgrade to the top-end Forerunner 965.

Price: USA $450, UK £430, EU499

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Probably the best running watch for 95% of runners
4.5

Verdict

The Garmin Forerunner 265 is a complete watch for runners it negates the need to buy an all-out triathlon watch like the FR965 but its premium price makes the cheaper FR55 a more sensible alternative for a first-time running watch purchase. The better-looking screen makes this a good 24×7 watch for many more people.

Pros

  • Unbeatably broad and deep set of running features
  • Beautiful AMOLED Screen
  • Great new readiness feature

Cons

  • Expensive. Perhaps the older 255 model offers better value and similar features
  • No maps
  • Decent battery life but the 255 is better

Q: Why upgrade from the FR255 to FR265

Answer: Primarily, it’s the screen, but there are also some excellent training readiness metrics that, in my opinion, are worth having.

You get music as standard, which also adds WiFi and extra onboard storage at the same time. Additionally, you get running dynamics without the need for an external sensor. You’ll already know if you need music or not, and you may think you’d like running dynamics, but honestly, don’t worry about those. What is useful, though, is running power, but you get that on the older 255 in any case.

Q: Should I go all out and get the top-end FR965?

The 965 and 265 both share the same screen tech.

If you only run and go to the gym, then there is little point in going for the FR965. Even occasional triathletes do NOT need the FR965. Only go for the top-of-the-line Garmin Forerunner 965 if you want extra features linked to cycling, maps, and training planning. These categories include Strava-live segments, real-time stamina, acclimation, trendline popularity routing, ClimbPro, NextFork trail navigation, cycling power guide, and MTB Grit/Flow Metrics, among others.

Other than maps, perhaps the deciding factor to push you towards the more expensive FR965 is the 50% extra battery life, e.g., 31 hours vs. 20 hours for GPS-only recording time.

Whereas to keep you on the 265 level you have the option of a small-format watch with the Forerunner 265s, you do not have that opinion on the more expensive FR965 which only comes in one size.

 

What Else?

It’s easy to forget all the old awesomeness from earlier models. Here’s a simple list of the main feature sets

  • Morning report with sleep and training outlook, HRV status, and weather
  • Race Widget and time predictions
  • Daily suggested workouts that adapt to your performance and recovery
  • Training readiness score based on sleep quality, recovery, and training load
  • Training status based on HRV status and recent exercise history
  • Free adaptive 5K, 10K, and half marathon training plans and race predictor
  • Recovery time estimates
  • Sleep monitoring with a sleep score, sleep stages and detailed insights
  • 24×7 Body Battery energy monitoring
  • Women’s health tracking for the menstrual cycle or pregnancy
  • Wrist-based running dynamics and running power
  • Acute load and training effect metrics for fitness improvement
  • Performance condition analysis of pace and heart rate during exercise
  • VO2max tracking and goal setting, health snapshot and stress tracking
  • Audio prompts and guided workouts
  • Preloaded HIIT, strength, cardio, yoga, and Pilates workouts
  • SATIQ technology and multi-band GPS for accurate positioning
  • PacePro feature for GPS-based pace guidance
  • 30+ built-in sports apps including triathlon and multisport profiles
  • Music downloading from Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music
  • Safety and tracking features for incident reporting and live location sharing
  • Garmin Pay contactless payments
  • Smart notifications for emails, texts, and alerts on the watch
  • Livetrack feature for real-time location sharing with friends and family
  • Garmin Connect app for health and fitness tracking, social connections, and more
  • Connect IQ, the app store for watch faces, data fields, and app customizations.

 

Take Out

A sensible product that will have broad appeal and sell well despite the high price.

Garmin seems to be going all-in with AMOLED screens. This response is in part to the excellent Polar Ignite 3 sports watch but mostly it’s Garmin’s attempt at staving off the ever-present threat from the Apple Watch which remains a better overall smartwatch if you have an iPhone.

People want ‘pretty’, and now they have ‘pretty’ plus decent battery life that beats Apple.

Perhaps one drawback with AMOLED is that it assumes you will be wearing and enjoying the watch all day. So, if all you want is a watch to run with and then put in your drawer until tomorrow, there’s little benefit in paying an extra $100 for an AMOLED screen on any watch.

You have to be more than averagely sporty to sensibly choose the Forerunner 265 over the Apple Watch. And you have to be a little less keen than the average Ironman triathlete to be satisfied with the FR265 level.

Similarly, if you don’t listen to music, you should go for the Forerunner 255. And if you won’t wear a watch at night, that negates the benefit of the new readiness features in the FR265. Again, stick with the FR255 if that describes you.

Oftentimes, Garmin has seemed to arbitrarily cut features from certain models and we’ve all known that was because Garmin wanted to justify a higher price on the top-end model. There’s still some of that going on here. However, I now see a clearer alignment of headline features with sizeable groups of potential buyers – those who train with music; those who sleep with their watch; those who only want a watch to run with; those who are bonkers-crazy, wannabe Ironman athletes.

One of the problems that Garmin is creating for itself is that the Forerunner 55 (65 soon) is a great watch with a great set of sports features. Almost so good that you can sensibly save money buying into the Garmin ecosystem at its entry level.

The other problem created for Garmin, but this time by Apple, is that Garmin can never, ever get the detailed integration with the iPhone’s smart features that only the Apple Watch has access to.

 

Price, Availability & Returns

Garmin 265 and 265s are available now

Price: USA $450, UK £430, EU499

 

 

Comparison

 

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Probably the best running watch for 95% of runners
4.5

Verdict

The Garmin Forerunner 265 is a complete watch for runners it negates the need to buy an all-out triathlon watch like the FR965 but its premium price makes the cheaper FR55 a more sensible alternative for a first-time running watch purchase. The better-looking screen makes this a good 24×7 watch for many more people.

Pros

  • Unbeatably broad and deep set of running features
  • Beautiful AMOLED Screen
  • Great new readiness feature

Cons

  • Expensive. Perhaps the older 255 model offers better value and similar features
  • No maps
  • Decent battery life but the 255 is better

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17 thoughts on “Garmin Forerunner 265 | Quick Review

  1. One of the reasons why I went Epix and would go 965 right away (if they were available in Germany at this point) is the fact, that they connect to my Concept2 rower. I used the Venu 2 and the Instinct (among many other Garmin watches) over the years. And both would not recognize the sensor of the C2. I am not sure if a 255/265 would, but I am not getting one to find out…

    1. I’m interested to know the exact nature of this problem. I am doing a similar thing with an ANT+ vasa trainer for swimming (it broadcasts as a bike power meter)

      1. i tried takura87’s 2nd power meter data field in a custom profile. kinda worked until garmin disabled something. https://the5krunner.com/2022/11/10/how-to-make-an-old-vasa-ant-sensor-broadcast-over-bluetooth/
      2. i can use NPE Cable or NPE WUYR to change the vasa signal
      3. i am currently researching using WUYR to convert to BLE and then the trainerday app can record swim power and do the subsequent workflow to dropbox.

  2. Well.. this 265 kills all the rumours about a 755, or 655.

    I do see room for a 155, but it’s more likely garmin will make the 55 successor also more featurerich and more expensive.

    Garmin looses marketshare in the cheap/middle price range and gaining in the more expensive devices range. So they probably are going to make more expensive devices.

    1. not necessarily if there is lte tested (again) on a 755 or if the 755 also becomes, effectively, a small format 955.

      expensive device: yes, garmin is clearly pursuing every possible avenue to justify higher pricing. and they are doing a good job.

      1. Doing a good job from stakeholders point of view.

        But we are consumers. Or are you also a stakeholder?

        Maybe you have inside information (which you may not share at this point) but I guess lte on a garmin is dead. If the 945lte sold well, with lots of subscriptions, garmin would have made a 955lte a year ago.

        (yes, I’m not a garminfanboy, but if my current fr935 dies, I’m most probably buy a new garmin, because all other brands also have issues)

      2. I have no relationship with Garmin. I do not even get press releases. I do not think that classes me as a stakeholder in the sense you might be thinking (all customers are stakeholders and I am a customer, like you)
        I obviously have many sources of info

        LTE: even with the apple watch, LTE customers must be a small minority and that is with a ‘proper’ LTE service. Garmin’s service is not as good. however, there are various comments over the net that what Garmin offer is liked by some people. like you, I suspect the number is small.
        LTE: Garmin bought the company GEOS a while back. They obviously have an interest in a subscription service for emergency assistance/help. maybe that is only intended for satellite handhelds?

      3. Sorry, where I said stakeholder I mean shareholder.

        But no doubt, garmin is looking for subscription services. There is good money in it.

        If I would be garmin, I would ditch gps handhelds as fast as I can. iPhones are already satellite handhelds and more smartphones will follow.

        Garmin still has an edge with the backoffice part of search and rescue. Apple has the money and is willing to setup/buy something similar but I doubt china brands will do the same. There is an opportunity for garmin. Although I suspect once you can make calls via satellite the country emergency service (112/911) will take over. At least here in the west.

      4. idk much about all that stuff
        i do remember that garmin handhelds sold quite well last year but, as you imply, Apple is gunning for that market with satellite connectivity in iphones

  3. You mention that there’s little point in paying the extra for AMOLED if you only drag the watch out of the drawer to record activities. Whilst that may be true for running and cycling outdoors, my experience of the Epix Gen 2 AMAOLED screen is that it absolutely destroys my MIP screen Garmin watches for utility during swimming (pool or OWS) and indoor gym workouts; so, for people who regularly does those activities, then the AMOLED juice is 100% worth the cost squeeze, even if the watch sits idle in between activities.

  4. Even if you’re a serious runner (like me) the Venu 2 is quite enough if you want a nice screen. How do I know? I sold my 955 as the metrics and adaptive sessions and I don’t regret it a bit! Especially since the ski mode works unlike on the 955!

  5. I’m really torn on this one. I have a 255 (non-music] which I use 3 or 4 times a week for running, indoor rowing and strength training. I do wear it at night but my daily watch is a Suunto 7 which I had hoped might become my one and only device. It’s ok for sport but I much prefer my Garmin for that.
    When I heard about the AMOLED Forerunners I tried using my 255 exclusively and imagining how it would be improved with a touch screen. I lasted about a day before putting my Suunto back on.

    I’ve realised that I’m not really interested in Garmin adding ever more sports or health metrics. My 255 already has enough of those. If they released a true smartwatch and kept all the sport features, now that would interest me. I’m still waiting for the one device to rule them all! But that 265 is really tempting ……

    1. i think we all have our own needs and feubles, that said your use-case is an interesting one as it must be indicative of the same use-cases of a lot of other people and broadly similar to what I do albeit I do something similar on iOS with Apple Watch.

      health metrics: yep i agree. however the readiness/recovery piece on the 265 is a notable step forwards. after that i don’t think there is any low hanging fruit for garmin to feed us with future features.
      touchscreen: you can get that on a MIP screen too of course.

      1. Yes the readiness/recovery feature does look interesting. Not sure that I’ve fully got my head around it. I think I’ll wait for a while and see what the feedback is from ordinary users on some of the forums.
        The AMOLED screen does look very good: just not sure it’s worth the extra cost. I got my 255 in a sale for £250. The 265 currently costs £429. That’s a big jump.

  6. My FR245 battery was pretty much finished from 3 years of daily use so I bought the 265s the day it came out. So far I’m liking it, it’s much snappier than the 245, the screen is nice, I like the morning report and being able to have a sleep widget, plus in Spotify there’s full colour albums which look great. Shame it cost more than the 245/255 but I figured if it’s going to be on my wrist for 3 years I should get the OLED screen.

  7. Thank you for your reviews.
    Please could you confirm that there are (or even better, provide an example of) voice audio cues for workouts, i.e., when to change pace or HR zone, etc., e.g., when running intervals.
    I think the answer is “yes”: https://www8.garmin.com/manuals/webhelp/GUID-F41EAFB3-6CC9-42DE-9C6C-9E358DBB0671/EN-US/GUID-E9B4413D-28EB-4054-8622-5CCD3F4571D2.html
    And that they’ll only play over BT headphones connected to the watch? https://support.garmin.com/en-US/?faq=7GKQD46gnB6OqTv10LutJ9#:~:text=Limitations%20with%20Audio%20Prompts

    So far I’ve been using Runkeeper and a Polar H10. Both give me voice audio stats during my run. Runkeeper also gives me voice audio prompts for different stages of a run, including pace targets. I was all set to buy a Polar Pacer Pro, and use Polar workouts, but discovered that only the Ignite 3 gives voice prompts (https://support.polar.com/en/voice-guidance-in-polar-flow-app), so am also looking at the Garmins…

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