Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955 – Is it worth the upgrade?

Should you get the new Forerunner 955, or are you better off investing in the last-gen Forerunner 945?

Garmin forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955
(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin's 900 series sits at the very top of the brand’s Forerunner range, offering most of the features from the Fenix series but inside a more compact design and for a slightly cheaper price.

It’s been three years since Garmin launched a fresh model for this series. The last release we saw was when the Garmin Forerunner 945 debuted in 2019. That was until June this year, when the company unveiled the latest and greatest Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar, boasting a host of enhanced features and a few tweaks in the design department.

But is the all-new triathlon watch worth splashing out on? We put the two best Garmin watches head-to-head to find out. Here’s the battle of the best 900 series smartwatch!

Garmin Forerunner 945 Vs Forerunner 955: Price and availability

Released on 1 June 2022, the Garmin Forerunner 955 is available to buy now in two different versions, the non-solar model, which retails for $499.99/£479.99/AU$799 and the Solar Edition, which costs $599.99/£549.99/AU$949.

Shop the Garmin Forerunner 955 at Garmin US (opens in new tab) / Garmin UK (opens in new tab) / Garmin AU (opens in new tab).

Despite being three years older, the Forerunner 945 is actually more expensive than its successor, priced at $599.99/£499.99/AU$999, according to the official Garmin website. That means buying an older, more outdated watch will cost you more. However, keep an eye on this, as it’s likely to go down in price very soon.

Shop the Garmin Forerunner 945 at Garmin US (opens in new tab) / Garmin UK (opens in new tab) / Garmin AU (opens in new tab).

If you’re desperate to get the Forerunner 945 now for whatever reason, try shopping around. It should be a little cheaper on other retailer sites. 

WINNER: Forerunner 955. Get a newer smartwatch with better features for a lower price - it’s a no-brainer.

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar triathlon watch on a desk

The Forerunner 955 boasts the solar-harvesting Power Glass

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955: Design

As both watches feature polymer cases with 22mm QuickFit watch bands and include Corning Gorilla Glass DX lenses, the Forerunner 955 and Forerunner 945 don't look all that different side by side. Look a little closer, though, and you’ll find some subtle updates have been made when it comes to size and the display.

The biggest difference is that the Forerunner 955 now has touchscreen support, so you can use your fingers to swipe through menus. Another key difference is also linked to the display. The Forerunner 955 now was a larger 1.3-inch, 260 x 260 resolution transflective screen compared to the slightly smaller 1.2-inch, 240 x 240 transflective display of the Forerunner 945. This means you’re getting more screen and an upgrade in resolution within a slightly smaller but thicker case.

WINNER: Forerunner 955. 

Garmin Forerunner 945 review

The previous-gen 945 has a solid feature set

(Image credit: Future)

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955: Features and performance

When it comes to features, the Forerunner 945 and newer 955 offer a similar fitness-monitoring experience, with all the sports tracking you can expect from a dedicated fitness watch. 

Both watches are run-focused devices, and while there is a lot on offer in that respect, there is way more going on. Of course, there’s your standard cycling and swimming tracking as well as more obscure sports such as golf and paddle.

But you’ll also find some outdoor adventure-related modes that you’d associate more with Garmin's Fenix range, like hiking, climbing and skiing, which make use of the watches’ full mapping and navigation features available. However, the Forerunner 955 takes things a little further, with additional profiles for activities such as pickleball and snowshoeing to ensure more niche pursuits are covered, too.

Another significant new feature of the Forerunner 955 is the addition of solar charging. This is present in the form of small solar panels built into the watch face’s chassis. However, it’s worth noting that you’ll need to spend at least three hours in the sunshine every day to keep the watch going on solar power alone. The Solar model is also more expensive than the non-Solar version. Regardless of which Forerunner 955 model you’re using, it will offer a slightly better battery life than its predecessor. 

The Forerunner 955 also comes loaded with Garmin's fresh Up Ahead mode, a feature designed to offer runners points of interest on a course in real-time, along with a host of detailed performance metrics and info such as distance and elevation covered.

WINNER: Forerunner 955. Subtle updates go a long way 

Garmin Forerunner 945 review

The Forerunner 945 featureing the Garmin Elevate v3 optical heart rate sensor

(Image credit: Future)

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955: Sensors

Garmin boosted the Forerunner 955 in the sensor department by including a newer optical heart rate sensor. Both watches sport Garmin's feature a Pulse Ox sensor, the same satellite support, and a barometric altimeter and gyroscope.

The main difference, however, is the addition of multi-band support GPS in the Forerunner 955. Present across most of Garmin’s latest line-up of smartwatches, this sensor improves outdoor location accuracy, especially when environments can be more challenging.

WINNER: Forerunner 955. The innovative new sensors ensure fitness tracking is more accurate than ever. 

Garmin Training Readiness feature

The Forerunner 955 showing Garmin's widget view layout

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955: Interface and user experience

As far as the interface goes, both the Forerunner 945 and 955 watches offer pretty much the same software experience. Garmin hasn’t updated the look or feel of its smartwatch OS for a long time and feels almost identical no matter which of its devices you’re using it on. This is a good thing for familiarity, but it would be nice to see an update sometime in the near future.

That said, the Forerunner 955’s touchscreen ability does give it a breath of fresh air over its predecessor, despite it not really being needed. The 955 also has a slightly bigger and better resolution display meaning everything is just a little easier on the eye during use.

WINNER: Forerunner 955.  

Garmin Training Readiness feature

The Forerunner 955 takes the crown

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955: Verdict

To summarise, the Forerunner 955 comes with just about everything the Forerunner 945 does but brings on board some welcome additions, such as a slightly larger and better quality touch display, better battery life, a solar charging option, and more accurate multi-frequency GPS.

Usually, a watch carrying a host of new and improved features would come at a much greater cost than its predecessor, but in this case, it doesn’t - strangely. Garmin clearly wants its customers to opt for the newer watch in this instance.

It’s a no-brainer who the winner of this head-to-head is. If you’re looking for a new Garmin watch that’s sleeker and less aimed at the great outdoors than the Garmin Fenix 7X or the Garmin Epix Gen 2 and more premium and fitness-focused than the Garmin Venu 2 series, the Forerunner 955 is an obvious choice.

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.