Garmin Forerunner 165 – successor to FR55, comparison with Forerunner 265

Garmin Forerunner 165 Race Planning, Primary Race Target

Garmin Forerunner 165 – what’s new? vs. Forerunner 55 vs Forerunner 265

This article quickly helps you decide which Garmin running watch to buy from its confusing product range.

More:  Detailed Garmin Forerunner 165 Review

The focus is on the Forerunner 165 from February 2024 which is the ‘entry-level’ replacement for the much older Forerunner 55. I won’t cover the Forerunner 965/955 today as they are high-end triathlon watches but I will add a few mentions and a paragraph at the end of this article giving a comparison to the main GPS running watch competitors, the Coros Pace 3 and the Apple Watch.

Full Detail: Garmin’s table of the differences between its products.

Buy Garmin forerunner 165
Buy Garmin Forerunner 165

Overview: Garmin Forerunner 165 – What’s New?

If you train for a race this year, this will be a great choice. You’ll automatically get tailored training suggestions every day and you will love that the watch is fully customisable with straps, watch faces of your choice and a mostly free app store. It’s a complete training tool partnered with smart features like Garmin Pay for tap-and-go payments, optional music and a highly featured smartphone app.

How to Guide: use Garmin PAY with most banks – here

This is a solid update from the much older Forerunner 55 with several hardware bumps plus a raft of new features. The range of sports features represents those of a top-end Garmin watch from 3-5 years ago whereas the new hardware is either the latest generation or the prior generation from 2-3 years ago. As a package, it probably beats the non-Garmin competition on both of those counts but today’s price is no longer that of an entry-level sports watch. Garmin seems to aim to exit that part of the market.

Garmin Forerunner 165 Recovery time

Size and Quality: Garmin FR165 vs FR55 vs FR265s

All three of these watches come in what Garmin would class as its smallest case size with the Forerunner 265s being the smallest of the three. All three are lightweight. However, a big and highly important difference is the display size. The FR165 crams a larger AMOLED display onto the small case size. There is also a medium-sized option, the FR265 if you refer something slightly larger.

  • Forerunner 165:  390x390px, 1.2″ AMOLED, touchscreen
  • Forerunner 55:  208x208px 1.04″ old-fashioned MIP
  • Forerunner 265s: 360x360px 1.1″ AMOLED, touchscreen, Gorilla Glass 3 (FR255 is 416x416px 1.3″ AMOLED)

The touchscreen on the FR165 can be disabled if you prefer buttons. However, the Gorilla Glass 3 on the FR265 is worth getting if you can afford it. Whilst not as good as a Sapphire display, Gorilla glass will keep those ugly screen scratches at bay.

Q: These watches are meant to be worn 24×7 to get all the physiology features. Would you wear yours if the display was scratched?

Garmin Forerunner 165 HRV Status

GPS Accuracy: Garmin Forerunner 165

If you are running in technical environments like Manhattan, the Amazon or the Alps then you need the latest GPS chips for positional accuracy and pace accuracy. The FR165 falls short there.

The other 99% of you who run in normal conditions will find that the Forerunner 165 is the first accurate GPS watch from Garmin you’ve experienced.

The FR55 has older GPS tech, avoid it if you can.

  • Forerunner 165: Latest tech but with highest accuracy mode disabled (not a problem, second highest is still accurate)
  • Forerunner 55: Older tech
  • Forerunner 265s: Latest tech with SatIQ


garmin forerunner 165 vs 265 vs fr55

Battery Life: Garmin Forerunner 165 vs FR55 vs FR265s

AMOLED screens eat battery life for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, Garmin outclasses Apple in how it handles battery drain from a beautiful screen. Garmin’s battery life with AMOLED screens is now excellent; to the point where you don’t have to worry about it.

  • Forerunner 165:  smartwatch 11 days, GPS sports recording 19 hours, more accurate GPS 17 hours
  • Forerunner 55:  smartwatch 2 weeks, GPS sports recording 20 hours
  • Forerunner 265s: smartwatch 15 days, GPS sports recording 24 hours. most accurate GPS 15 hours + SatIQ

Sports, Wellness & Sleep Features: Garmin Forerunner 165 vs FR55 vs FR265s

Unless you have a specific need, Garmin Forerunner 165 is likely to have all the sports, wellness and sleep features you will need. It lacks features for more serious or more advanced athletes. As an example of those omissions, you can NOT pace your efforts against a virtual partner but other than that it’s got pretty much the same planning and in-run features as the more expensive Forerunner 265, the FR265 has additional physiology insights.

  • Forerunner 165: Daily Suggested Workouts, Nap Detection, Garmin Running Power, Morning Report, HRV Status, Race glance, course Guidance, rest timer, training effect, primary benefit, intervals, running power, basic outdoor/recreation/hiking features, basic swim features, basic cycling features, all commonly used sports profiles except triathlon.
  • Forerunner 55:  Daily Suggested Workouts (limited)
  • Forerunner 265s:  Daily Suggested Workouts, Nap Detection, Running Power, Morning Report, smart trainer control, redshift mode, triathlon, workout animations and muscle maps, HRV Status, Race glance, course Guidance, rest timer, training effect, primary benefit, custom alerts, load ratio, advanced intervals, training load, training load focus, race an activity, virtual partner, running power, grade adjusted pace, performance conditions, auto climb, lactate threshold, basic outdoor/recreation/hiking features, advanced swim features, advanced cycling features.

garmin forerunner 165 comparison 265 vs fr55

Other Capabilities

You don’t have to worry about other capabilities, they are of a higher standard than a typical entry-level sports watch.

  • Forerunner 165: Garmin Pay (tap to pay), Blood Oxygen/SpO2, Music Options including Spotify, Altimeter, compass, thermometer, ambient light sensor, text response & images (Android),
  • Forerunner 55: None of the features listed for FR165
  • Forerunner 265s: Garmin Pay, Blood Oxygen, Music Option, Altimeter, compass, thermometer, ambient light sensor, text response & images (Android), gyroscope, supports bike power meters,


Buy Garmin forerunner 165
Buy Garmin Forerunner 165


If you can afford it and want to buy a Garmin watch for running, fitness and some other sports then get the FR165 rather than the FR55. There’s little point in going further up the price chain unless you become a more serious runner or have specific sporting needs. Avoid Garmin if you are confused by complex tech.

For the same money, you can get an Apple Watch. If you’re completing 3-5 hours of activity a week then that perhaps doesn’t warrant a dedicated sports watch so get an Apple Watch instead and you will get great use from its integration with your iPhone and its many smart features that Garmin can never match like FindMy or its abilities to make and take calls.

Coros Pace 3 stands out from the other competition for the features it gives at this price point. Those features might lack depth and polish but the Pace 3 is easy to understand and use. It lacks the beauty of an AMOLED screen and has a plastic feel.

Polar Ignite 3 is also similarly priced and does have the beautiful AMOLED screen however it lacks a decent range of customisable watch faces to let you pretty it up. Like the Pace 3, it is easier to use than a Garmin but it wins over the Pace 3 when you consider the more advanced physiological metrics. Polar has been doing that for more than a decade.

Price: Garmin Forerunner 165 vs FR55 vs FR265s

There’s a big price bump to the Forerunner 165 making it less of an obvious entry-level watch as the older FR55. The option of music makes the FR165 more expensive still, yet cheaper than than FR265.

Garmin discounts on the MSRP/RRP but only at times of its choosing. That’s the usual sale times plus when it chooses to react to a competitor.

Buy now: Amazon

More:  Detailed Garmin Forerunner 165 Review

Buy Garmin forerunner 165
Buy Garmin Forerunner 165

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10 thoughts on “Garmin Forerunner 165 – successor to FR55, comparison with Forerunner 265

  1. This is a nice summary. About the only other thing I would add is that Venu and Vivoactive are probably also competitors at this price point, at least I know I would have considered this as an option when I bought my wife her Vivoactive AMOLED just recently.

    1. VA5 is no option for runners (no pressure sensor). As runner (and climber, paraglider, …) I need minimum case size with maximum display size. Reference still is my FR645M. 265(s) really terrible, mega case compared to display size, unuseful for runners. 965 is ok, but giga case size. 165 goes in the right direction but not as good as my good old FR645M. Best choice at the moment would be Venu3s or Venu3. Giga display size with medium case size. Ok, some running features are missing, because of this I’m still waiting and will continue running with my good old FR645M until better choice. Hope many runners are following this thinking … maybe Garmin market research comes to different conclusions in the future.

  2. Despite my dislike for Amoled I guess this is a decent, if overpriced watch, with the 255 still a better option feature-wise.

    Funny how they were so afraid of getting into the 265 territory that they’ve cut training load and training status too lol.

    1. Agreed, that’s probably garmin’s main concern. It seems that so far they are not too worried of having loads of different levels and product lines (although it makes it so confusing for the consumer!)

      It does make one start to wonder about “self cannibalism” after a while though!

      1. Thank you, that’s what I hoped you’d say – build quality, battery life and maps makes the extra cost feel worth it

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