1. Display: MIP vs. AMOLED
  2. Top Garmin watch reviews and comparisons
  3. Training features
  4. Case size and weight
  5. Battery life
  6. Price comparison and latest deals
  7. Should you upgrade?
  8. Verdict: Which is best?

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs. Forerunner 965: What are the key differences?

Find out whether it's worth upgrading your running watch
Wareable / Garmin Garmin Forerunner 955 v 965
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Despite releasing the Forerunner 955 series just last year, Garmin has already delivered the next-gen upgrade in the form of the Forerunner 965. 

It represents a rapid turnaround from the company, and, if you're searching for the differences between the two running watch models, you're in the right place. 

Whether you're a Forerunner 955 user looking to see what new features the Forerunner 965 brings, or you own neither and are trying to decide between them, we've touched all the key points of comparison below.

Journey on and you'll discover exactly what Garmin has changed, as well as our recommendations for those upgrading, and, ultimately, which is the better watch. 

Display: MIP vs. AMOLED

Wareable / GarminGarmin Forerunner 955 v 965 display

As we've explored when comparing the Forerunner 255 and Forerunner 265, the display is the key change to be aware of between these two watches. 

While the FR955 (and the 'Solar' edition) features Garmin's color transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display, the newer FR965 instead packs the same AMOLED display tech present in the Garmin Epix (Gen 2)Garmin Marq (Gen 2) and the Garmin Venu 2 Plus

It means that the overall display quality has been given a huge upgrade, with the FR955's 260 x 260 resolution bumped up to 454 x 454 pixels. It means everything just looks crisper and sharper on the new model - and, though MIP screens can be backlit, the FR965's AMOLED screen is much brighter as standard.

This change in the display also means the FR965 runs the more modern and breezy UI, which also features a neat always-on mode. Both generations, too, have touch-enabled screens.

WareableGarmin Forerunner 955 v 965 display

We'll get into the finer points below, but know that this is the biggest difference between the pair - and it is significant. Following our testing, we would now find it incredibly hard to strap on a MIP Garmin instead of an AMOLED variation. 

It's not just about the more vibrant display and sharper resolution, either, remember, with the UI on the FR965 also being just that bit more responsive and modern.

We've now used both of these watches for a very good chunk of time, and the tracking experience feels much fresher on the newer model, despite both offering all the same features.

However, durability is also a thing. In just a few weeks with the FR965, it's picked up more screen and bezel scratches than we experienced in nine months of wearing the FR955. This could just be bad luck, of course, but we'd be more inclined to buy a screen protector for the newer model than the older one.

Top Garmin watch reviews and comparisons

Training features

Wareable / GarminGarmin Forerunner 955 v 965 training features

The training and smart features on offer here are pretty much identical. 

That means the whole garden shed of Garmin metrics that landed on 2022's FR955 - ones like Training Readiness, HRV Status, Morning Report, Race Calendar, and offline mapping - are all on the FR965, as you would expect. 

The small crop of ones debuting through the FR965, like Garmin's wrist-based Running Dynamics, has now also arrived on the FR955 through a software update.

WareableGarmin Forerunner 955 v 965 mapping

While they're technically the same on paper, though, as we say, it's also true that these features are presented much, much better on an AMOLED display - and through that new UI mentioned above.

Things like mapping or golf were two things we particularly found much friendlier on the FR965 than its predecessor, though it is true that tracking runs and the like are essentially identical.

Case size and weight

Wareable / GarminGarmin Forerunner 955 v 965 side by side

Unlike with other Forerunner models, only one case size exists for both the FR955 and FR965.

And while they may look extremely similar, there are a couple of subtle differences in the actual size and weight.

The FR955 features a 46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4mm, while the FR965 actually manages to reduce the thickness and also grow the overall case slightly - it comes in at 47.2 x 47.2 x 13.2mm.

The change in the display has also seen the screen size alter, bumping from 1.3 inches in the FR955 to 1.4 inches in the FR965.

WareableGarmin Forerunner 955 v 965 case

This doesn't sound like a big change, obviously, but, with the FR955's solar display ring also being taken off the FR965, coupled with that improvement in quality, we found that the latter felt much bigger during side-by-side comparisons.

And for all those slight changes, the weight has actually been kept the same - 53g in each model.

You may also notice some slight differences in the design of the case.

For the FR965, the 'Start-Stop' button has been replaced by a bigger pusher with the Garmin logo on, and the bezel is instead made from titanium, as shown above. In the FR955's design, you'll notice a polymer bezel.

Battery life

With the advancements Garmin has made in the screen department between generations, you might expect these two devices to have completely contrasting battery life estimates. 

However, after conducting some testing - both in our review and in a direct comparison - the drop-off isn't actually as bad as we initially suspected.

If you own the standard version of the FR955, Garmin estimates you should receive around 15 days of battery in smartwatch mode, with this shortening to 42 hours in GPS tracking. 

In real-world use, using the watch to track outdoor exercise for around an hour a day (sometimes with Spotify streaming), we've always found the FR955's battery life to actually be a little closer to 8-12 days.

We should also note that these estimates are slightly bumped up for the Solar version, but, at least based on our own use, we don't really think this feature makes as much of a difference unless you spend a considerable amount of time outside in sunny conditions.

The FR965 is a bit more dependent on the settings configuration, and, if you really strip them back, you can technically get a bit more life out of it than the predecessor. We're not quite sure we could manage Garmin's 23-day 'Smartwatch Mode' estimation, but our use could probably see it last between 17-20 days.

Given this includes little tracked exercise and keeping the always-on display mode off, though, we'd say that more typical performance sees the FR965 last around 6-8 days.

That is down from the FR955's 8-12 days, which we mentioned above, but, considering the display differences, we think the trade-off is more than worth it. 

Price comparison and latest deals

To the surprise of nobody, the newer FR965 is more expensive than the FR955.

However, the jump in price does depend slightly on which version of the FR955 you're interested in - and which country you're buying from.

For the standard version, for example, Garmin has an asking price of $499.99 / £479.99, while the Solar equivalent bumps that up to $549.99 / £549.99.

Check price: Buy Garmin Forerunner 965

Given that Garmin is pricing the sole model of the FR965 at $599.99 / £599.99, then, you can expect to pay a premium of $50 / £50 to $100 / £120 for the upgrades.

We don't think this is too bad, considering the price hikes we're seeing across the industry, but keep in mind the margin between the two is also likely to widen even further as we get deeper into 2023.


Should you upgrade?

Given that the display upgrade is the main one here - and also not one we think affects battery life too much - this is the key point to focus on if you're considering upgrading.

We personally believe the AMOLED display and more vibrant UI offer a much nicer overall experience, though we do appreciate this style isn't for everyone; we know plenty of runners, cyclists, and swimmers that don't enjoy the smartwatch-like feel of these displays. 

Like everything else, this one comes down to personal preference - and whether you want to take the hit on your new-ish FR955. 

Verdict: Which is best?

WareableGarmin Forerunner 955 v 965 wrist

Following our tests, we believe the FR965 is definitely the better of these two watches.

It offers the same training features in a more premium design with much better display tech - all for just a small bump in price. With the relatively minimal battery life drop-off, as well, it becomes very hard to recommend the FR955 over it.

However, the upgrades present in the FR965 won't please everybody - and it could represent a perfect opportunity to reduce the outlay for some potential buyers.

After all, you do get all the same features at your disposal.

How we test

Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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