Garmin Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 255 – Is it worth the upgrade?

We compare Garmin’s latest mid-range running watch with its long-admired predecessor

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 255
(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 255: Is the successor of the most popular mid-range Garmin watch worth the premium, or are you better off opting in for the lower priced predecessor? We look at price, design, sensors and more to answer this question!

Wearable behemoth Garmin recently unveiled a brand new premium multisport watch, the Garmin Forerunner 255, boasting a slim and lightweight design, always-on, full-colour display that’s easy to read even in direct sunlight, and a bunch of wellness and smart features.

But how does this compare to its predecessor, the Garmin Forerunner 245, which was launched a few years ago? While both devices are still quite similar but there have been some rather significant upgrades added to the shiny new Forerunner 255 that isn’t available in the Forerunner 245, such as a multi-sport capability.

Is the Forerunner 245 still the best Garmin watch, or has the Forerunner 255 taken the crown? Which will come up trumps? Read on to find out.

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 255 – Price and availability

Launched on 1 June 2022, the Garmin Forerunner 255 is available to buy now in two different sizes, the standard 46mm model and a slightly smaller 42mm, both of which retail for $349.99/£299.99. The Forerunner 255 also comes with the option to store music, which costs £50/$50 more at $399/£349.

Buy the Garmin Forerunner 255 at Garmin US (opens in new tab) / Garmin UK (opens in new tab) / Garmin AU (opens in new tab).

The Garmin Forerunner 245 was released in 2019, so, as you’d expect, is much cheaper. The lowest-priced option will set you back £209.99/$299.99, as per the official Garmin website. That’s a difference of £90 compared to the most basic Forerunner 255 model. Shop around, and you’ll probably find it even cheaper.

Buy the Garmin Forerunner 245 at Garmin US (opens in new tab) / Garmin UK (opens in new tab) / Garmin AU (opens in new tab).

If you want a great running watch, but you’re limited in terms of budget and don’t need all the fancy bells and whistles, then now is a good time to invest. Especially since the Forerunner 245 is unlikely to be around much longer.

WINNER: Forerunner 245. As expected, you'll have to pay the premium for the new sensors and features of the Forerunner 255.

Garmin Forerunner 255S review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 255 – Design 

In true Garmin fashion, the new Forerunner 255 doesn’t look all that different to its predecessor despite being released three years apart. In fact, most people probably won’t be able to tell the two apart, unless it’s the Forerunner 255S that you’re comparing, as this is quite a bit smaller and neater looking. 

Neither watch supports touchscreen functionality, and both sport five physical buttons - three on the left and two on the right. Some might argue that the Forerunner 255 should have been given a touchscreen upgrade like the Fenix 7 or Forerunner 955 did, but in our experience, it isn’t necessary. Many users prefer to have the simple button-pushing functionality so they can focus on the task in hand: a decent run. 

The lack of a touchscreen is also made up by Garmin's MIP display, which can be read easily in all conditions, even in direct sunlight. Still, the 255’s screen has been elevated in terms of size and resolution, and now sports a 1.3-inch 260 x 260-pixel display, compared to the Forerunner 245’s 1.2-inch 240 x 240 resolution screen. Not a massive difference, but we’ll take it. 

WINNER: Forerunner 255. The slightly better screen takes the biscuit.

Garmin Forerunner 245

(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 255 – Features and performance

While both the Forerunner 245 and 255 are focused on run tracking, giving you an overview of your outdoor pursuits isn’t their only trick. Both watches will monitor just about every activity you’ll ever need them to, from indoor and outdoor runs and cycles to swimming, tennis and yoga. On top of this, they’ll provide you with dedicated tracking of your daily steps, heart rate, stress, and sleep, using the same Garmin Connect app to keep all your data viewable from one place.

The Forerunner 255 has been built to add some additional functionality to this list, however. The biggest is its ability to monitor multisport activity profiles and triathlons - a feature previously unavailable on the Forerunner 245. 

Garmin has also added the ‘Up Ahead’ feature on the new and improved Forerunner 255, a tool which was, until now, reserved for more expensive, premium tier watches in the Garmin range. This allows you to see predefined markers such as climbs in a race while also offering race-day specific performance predictions.

As for lifestyle features, the main difference between the two watches is that the Forerunner 255 now has the addition of Garmin Pay contactless payments. Although we can’t imagine this will make a massive difference to your life, especially since Garmin Pay only support a handful of obscure banks barely anyone uses.

WINNER: Forerunner 255. The new watch is bursting with new features that make it a much better addition to your wrist than its predecessor. 

Garmin Forerunner 255s Music first look

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 255 – Sensors

What really elevates the Forerunner 255 over its predecessor in terms of features is the arrival of some new sensors. For one, you’ve got a new barometric altimeter and a gyroscope, which weren’t present in the Forerunner 245. While the former means the watch can now determine changes in elevation as well as pressure caused by weather patterns, the latter improves monitoring such as how swim performance or rep counting in the gym are measured. 

The heart rate sensor in the Forerunner 255 has also been given an upgrade and is now a fourth-generation Elevate sensor, which Garmin says will deliver more accurate measurements and raw heart rate variability (HRV) data. As for GPS, Garmin stuck with the familiar GLONASS and GALILEO sensors, although they now offer multi-frequency reception in the Forerunner 255, offering much better accuracy in more remote places, such as narrow valleys and covered trails.

The standard thermometer, compass and pulse ox blood oxygen saturation sensors are still present in both smartwatches. 

WINNER: Forerunner 255. The innovative new sensors ensure fitness tracking is more accurate than ever.

Garmin Forerunner 255S review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 255 – Interface and user experience

As far as the interface and user experience go, both watches offer pretty much the same experience. Although the Forerunner 255’s slightly bigger and better resolution display means everything will be a little easier on the eye.

WINNER: Forerunner 255. 

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 255 – Verdict

If you’re considering a purchase of either two of these high-performing smartwatches, there are, of course, a few things to weigh up first but beware that this will mostly come down to whether you want to pay extra for new-and-improved features.

Naturally, the Forerunner 255 won most rounds in this head-to-head battle, mostly thanks to its better-performing features and an updated design. However, if just want a great quality smartwatch that will stand the test of time while keeping costs down, we still can’t recommend the Forerunner 245 enough. It continues to be one of the best running watches, despite its age.

For today's best prices on these wearables, check out T3's dedicated page on the best Garmin deals or peruse the widgets below.

Lee Bell is a freelance journalist & copywriter specialising in technology, health, grooming and how the latest innovations are shaking up the lifestyle space. From national newspapers to specialist-interest magazines and digital titles, Lee has written for some of the world’s most respected publications during his 11 years as a journalist.