Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945: The key differences tested

Do you go Forerunner 945 or 955? Here's our take
Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945
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The Garmin Forerunner 955 has arrived as the successor to the 945, Garmin's top end running watch.

The new Forerunner 955 promises enhanced features and some changes in the design department – but could save some money and pick up its predecessor instead?

Wareable verdicts: Garmin Forerunner 955 review | Garmin Forerunner 945 review

We've lived with the Forerunner 945 for much of the past few years, and finished up our review of the Forerunner 955, so we're perfectly placed to advise you on which running watch to buy.

This is our detailed take on how the Forerunner 955 compares to the Forerunner 945.

Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945: Pricing

Garmin's 900 series sits at the very top of the Forerunner range, and offers most of the features from the Fenix series inside of a smaller design. That means it's not cheap.

The Forerunner 955 comes in non-solar and solar options with that solar support unsurprisingly, pushing the price up. Without solar, the Forerunner 955 costs $499/£479. Go for the 955 solar, and that jumps up to $599/£529.

Official pricing of the Forerunner 945 hasn't yet changed – so absurdly it's still more expensive at $599/£499 – with the 945 LTE priced at $649 (which is still US only).

However, it's available on Amazon for around $420/£450 – so the cost savings for buying a four-year-old running watch are currently poor.

Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945 at a glance

Forerunner 955Forerunner 945
Screen size 1.3-inch 1.2-inch
Screen res 260 x 260 pixels 240 x 240
Case size 46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4mm 47 x 47 x 13.7 mm
Weight 56g 50g
GPS Battery life 42 hours GPS
20 hours Multi-band
36 hours GPS
Smartwatch battery life 15 days (20 solar) Two weeks

Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945: Design and screen

Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945: Design and screen

Forerunner 945 (left) and 955 (right)

Put the Forerunner 955 and 945 side-by-side and they don't look all that different. But there are some differences in the size and the screen departments.

Both watches feature polymer cases with 22mm, QuickFit watch bands and include Corning Gorilla Glass DX lenses. The 945 (LTE and non-LTE) are lighter than the 955, but only by a few grams and isn't the kind of difference you really notice day-to-day.

Screens-wise, the 945 has a smaller 1.2-inch, 240 x 240 transflective display compared to the larger 1.3-inch, 260 x 260 resolution transflective screen on the Forerunner 955. So you're getting more screen and an up in resolution, within a slightly smaller but thicker case.

However, the same display tech is in play on both watches to give you strong visibility outdoors without draining the battery.

The Forerunner 955 now also has touchscreen support, so you can swipe through widgets and scroll with your digits.

All of the 945 and 955 models are waterproof up to 50 metres depth, making them safe for swimming and keeping on in the shower.

All the real changes are under the hood - but the new Forerunner 955 makes modest design improvements over the older 945 – and it's really just touchscreen that's a major differentiator in terms of the build.

Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945: Running and sports tracking features

 Running and sports tracking features

Forerunner 945 (left) and 955 (right)

Both the 945 and the 955 are built with all manner of sports tracking in mind. Running, cycling, swimming and golf are the key tracking modes along with a raft of outdoor modes including hiking, climbing and skiing covered to make use of the full mapping and navigation features available.

The Forerunner 955 has some additional profiles for activities like tennis, pickleball and snowshoeing, but they basically cover all of the same core and more niche sporting pursuits.

In terms of shared features, they both offer modes like daily suggested workouts, Garmin Coach access, the ability to sync training plans, richer interval training support and offer additional running and cycling metrics (via external sensors).

There's full color mapping across the board with features like turn-by-turn navigation, round-trip routing and the more advanced version of ClimbPro included. The 945 doesn't include Garmin's Up Ahead mode, designed for runners to see points of interest on a course, along with performance metrics and information like distance covered and elevation tackled.

You're getting the same sensors across the board including Garmin's Elevate heart rate monitor, Pulse Ox sensor and the same satellite support.

The key difference here is that the Forerunner 955 features the multi-band support, which also features on the Forerunner 255, Fenix 7 series and Epix watches. This promises improved outdoor accuracy in typically challenging locations for watches to reliably track location. We've used it and it does offer a noticeable improvement on the 945, so if you care about accuracy, the 955 will give you that over the 945.

Heart rate performance felt a bit more reliable for us on the 955 compared to the 945 for high intensity workouts, but if you care about accuracy and making the most of Garmin's heart rate fuelled training features (more on that below), you need to pair it up both with an external heart rate monitor to get it.

Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945: Training features

Training features

Forerunner 945 (left) and 955 (right)

Beyond tracking, these top-end watches go deep into the level of analysis they can offer. Whether you're paying much closer attention to your volume of training and worried about overdoing it or you want some insight into the optimal time to recover from a tough workout, these watches aim to help.

Both watches can sync training plans, receive daily suggested workouts that are a good guide for new users and runners can make use of Garmin's useful PacePro pacing strategies and race predictions to better gauge how you could perform on race day based on historic training data.

But the Forerunner 955 boasts a handful of new training features.

  • The new race widget counting you down to your next race with tips and guidance.
  • Garmin's new real-time stamina metric to help make sure you don't empty the tank at the beginning of a race
  • And there's an enhanced race predictor, which feels far more useful than the version on the 945.

Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945: Garmin running watch face-off

Forerunner 945 (left) and 955 (right)

Then there's the training analysis you can expect to see on the watch. There's a lot of similarities here with the 955 offering a bit more in this department. Both offer VO2 Max estimates, recovery time suggestions, training effect, training status, training load focus and performance condition.

There's four more big features the 955 gives you over the 945.

  • The Forerunner 955 sees the introduction of an acute load analysis, which looks at the intensity of most recent workouts and looks at the optimal range to tell you about your current fitness levels.
  • Training Readiness, which uses sleep quality, training load, recovery among other metrics to score you on your readiness to tackle a tough training day.
  • The new morning reports to give you a rundown of your most recent sleep, recovery time and current training schedule.
  • Last up is HRV status, which requires three weeks of baseline data to start to tell get a better sense of your quality of recovery and level of training.

So the 955 does offer some nice software extras here and if you're big on training and recovery insights, then that's a reason to go for the 955 over the 945.

Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945: Smartwatch and health tracking features

Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945: Garmin running watch face-off

Forerunner 945 (left) and 955 (right)

These top-end Forerunners get Garmin's top end smartwatch features, with couple of small differences between the two.

They're both Android and iOS-friendly and include music players with offline playlist support for the likes of Spotify and Deezer. The 955 though has the new option to choose between stereo and mono modes to improve battery life when streaming audio.

Both have notifications with the ability to respond to act and respond to notifications when paired to Android phones.

You've got Garmin Pay, access to the Connect IQ store and there's support for Garmin's LiveTrack and safety.

If you opt for the LTE version of the 945, you can use those LiveTrack and safety features without needing to be connected to your smartphone to use them. That LTE support doesn't offer the ability to handle calls or receive smartphone notifications sans phone and doesn't require an additional cellular contract to use those features.

When it comes to general health, wellness and fitness tracking, it's the same across the board with these two watches. You can track steps, sleep, heart rate, blood oxygen, stress and there's women's health features to track menstrual cycles with dedicated widgets and apps available for those features.

The 955 has the newer Health Snapshot mode, letting you take a 2-minute measurement to display heart rate, stress, respiration data, blood oxygen levels and HRV all on one screen.

As activity and health trackers, the performance of those sensors and the reliability of those insights feel about the same.

They're good for monitoring heart rate, motivating you to get more steps in while sleep tracking accuracy still pales in comparison to watches from Polar and Fitbit.

Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945: Battery life

Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945: Garmin running watch face-off

Forerunner 945 (left) and 955 (right)

If you want the watch with the best battery life overall and in most tracking modes, then it's the Forerunner 955 that you want.

Whether you go solar or non-solar, the 955 offers the bigger numbers. It's up to 15 days (20 days with solar) in smartwatch mode, up to 42 hours (49 hours with solar) in GPS battery life and there's an UltraTrac mode that will give you 80 hours (up to 110 hours with solar) of battery.

Using the new Multi-Band mode sees that battery drop, getting you anywhere from 8-22 hours depending on solar usage or whether you're streaming music at the same time.

Getting those solar battery numbers depends on spending at least 3 hours outside in the sunshine every day, so that's something to keep in mind here.

Flipping over to the 945 and you can expect up to two weeks in smartwatch mode, 12 hours GPS battery life (with music streaming), 10 hours with LTE LiveTrack and up to 35 hours in GPS mode only.

In our real-world testing, we'd say both of these watches are good for just over a week, with the potential to go longer. With regular tracking, music streaming (on both watches), using the Multi-Band mode on the 955 and regularly using the PulseOx sensor will see battery drop below those maximum numbers.

We'd say both watches can cover a solid week's worth of training, with the 955 going just a bit further in more heavy usage.

Garmin Forerunner 955 v 945: Which one should you buy?

The Garmin Forerunner 955 and 945 are in our opinion, both great watches that give you some of Garmin's best, top-end features in a lightweight form factor. We think both are still worth considering, but it really depends on what features you value most.

Buy the Garmin Forerunner 955... if you want improved tracking accuracy, bigger battery life and the same mapping support as Garmin's Fenix 7 series watches. It's also the watch that will give you solar charging powers too. Until there's a serious drop in price on the Forerunner 945, it's the newer watch all the way.

Buy the Garmin Forerunner 945 if... you want Fenix features in a smaller case, good tracking accuracy in most scenarios and you like the option of LTE to use safety features without a smartphone. But wait for a proper deal.