The Garmin Forerunner 255s is a tiny but mighty running watch (that comes at a price)

Garmin's new running watch, the Forerunner 255, packs a punch, but is it good enough to stay on top of the competition?

Garmin Forerunner 255s Music first look
(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Never thought that when I open the box of a new Garmin watch, my first thought will be 'how cute this watch looks', but that's exactly what happened when I first laid my eyes on the new Garmin Forerunner 255s Music. Garmin's new mid-range running watch comes in two sizes, and of the two, the 255s is the smaller.

In fact, the Forerunner 255S must be Garmin's smallest watch; it's definitely the smallest Forerunner!

Tiny it might be, to many degrees, the Garmin Forerunner 255s is the best running watch you can get; no wonder its predecessor, the Garmin Forerunner 245, topped T3's best running watch chart for years. It's compact – as we already established – yet packs a punch when it comes to training features. It has many of the functions of the also newly announced Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar, including the Morning Report, multi-band GPS, HRV Status etc.

Better still, the Forerunner 255s now has triathlon and multisport activity profiles, which might make the watch a worthy addition to our best triathlon watch guide. During races and brick workouts, you can easily toggle between sports with a single button press – no need to create custom workouts and press buttons excessively.

Garmin Forerunner 255s Music first look

Garmin Forerunner 255s Music: Full triathlon mode activated

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Let's quickly chat about the new features.

The Morning Report allows you to receive the day's weather and daily workout suggestion, as well as information about last night's sleep and HRV status. You'll need a connection to your smartphone for the weather report, but sleep and HRV data are readily available on the watch without any external input.

The HRV Status tracks heart rate variability while sleeping; it's a good indicator of how ready your body is to work out. Heart rate variability is the new thing in wearables and some fitness trackers, such as the Whoop 4.0, build their whole ecosystem around this one metric.

The Forerunner 255s measures Native Running Power, although you need an external sensor like the Running Dynamics Pod or Garmin HRM-Pro to access this feature. Should you have one, you can receive real-time metrics of how much power is being exerted on a run – nice!

There is a new Race Widget where you can see race prep information – including a race day-specific performance prediction, race day weather and a countdown clock – great for Instagram posts. Once a race is scheduled in the Garmin Connect app, daily suggested workouts will adapt based on your race plans.

Garmin Forerunner 255s Music first look

The Forerunner 255s Music features Garmin's latest-and-greatest Elevate optical heart rate sensor 

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Of course, you also get all the features of the Forerunner 245 series, including daily workout suggestions, Gamin Coach, PacePro, VO2 Max estimations, sleep tracking etc. The Music version also has the capacity to store music offline, so you can listen to music while out and about without your smartphone – you might need a pair of running headphones, though.

Clearly, the Garmin Forerunner 255s is a great little watch – so where is the catch? There isn't one; well, there is, but it's something you might have expected: the price. The best Garmin watches have never been cheap, but the new Forerunner 255 and 255S cost £300 (non-Music version) – that's a lot of money for a running watch with a tiny MIP screen in 2022, no matter how capable it is. 

I appreciate Garmin won't sell the smaller version for less, but you can get decent performance wearables for much less, so I wonder how many people will splash out on the scaled-down Garmin Forerunner 955 when you can buy watches such as the Polar Pacer Pro or the Huawei Watch GT Runner for cheaper?

Garmin Forerunner 255s Music first look

Side by side: Garmin Forerunner 955 solar and Garmin Forerunner 255s Music

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

On the plus side, the Forerunner 255 doubled the battery life of its predecessor: 14 days in smartwatch mode and 30 hours in GPS mode. Music + GPS is probably around 6.5 hours (in the energy-intense GPS mode).

Should you buy the Garmin Forerunner 255s Music?

I'll have to thoroughly test the watch before I form an opinion, and I can tell you now it's going to be a tough decision. I like the new features Garmin added and can't wait to see how the Forerunner 255s Music fares against other wearables, but it's also true that the watch will have to work hard to justify the price tag.

Available now at Garmin US (opens in new tab), Garmin UK (opens in new tab) and Garmin AU (opens in new tab), the Forerunner 255 and Forerunner 255S have a suggested retail price of $374.99/£299.99/AU$629.

The Forerunner 255 Music and Forerunner 255S Music are also available now and have a suggested retail price of $439.99/£349.99/AU$699.

Matt Kollat
Fitness Editor

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other fitness content creators such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab).