The rumours were true: Garmin is, in fact, released two new smartwatches on 1 June 2022, the Garmin Forerunner 955 and the Forerunner 255.
As expected, both watches introduce new features – most of these have been leaked in advance – such as heart rate variability tracking and training readiness. Garmin very kindly sent over a couple of review samples ahead of the launch and I already started testing the new Forerunner 955 – here are my initial thoughts after 48 hours spent with the watch!
In case you've been living under a rock for the last decade, Garmin's Forerunner series includes the best triathlon watches and best running watches money can buy, including the entry-level Garmin Forerunner 55, the mid-range Garmin Forerunner 245 (and 245 Music) and the top-tier Garmin Forerunner 945.
[The Forerunner 255 and 955 replace and update the latter two watches – obviously.]
I was drawn to the Garmin Forerunner 955 in particular: for triathletes, it certainly is the best Garmin watch, the cream of the crop, the watch that's supposed to represent the best qualities of the Forerunner range. And much to my delight, the Forerunner 955 added some features I was waiting for, including the multi-band GPS (also present in the Garmin Fenix 7X and Garmin Epix), real-time stamina insights and even solar charging.
The Forerunner 955 also introduces two new features (at least for Garmin): Training Readiness and HRV Status.
The former is similar to the Strain Score provided by the Whoop 4.0 and can tell you how ready your body is for training by taking into account sleep, recovery time, HRV status and additional metrics. This feature is more robust than I expected and breaks readiness down to its components such as sleep, recovery time, HRV status, acute load, and sleep and stress history.
Needless to say, for the Training Readiness score to be accurate, you must wear the watch all the time, not just for exercise. HRV Status is the heart rate variability tracker, something I said will be the next big thing in wearables in the Whoop 4.0 review mentioned above. Heart rate variability is tracked while sleeping to get a "better handle on recovery and an overall wellness picture," Garmin explains.
Heart rate variability is a good indicator of how much stress your body is under – I found this feature very useful when I tested the Whoop 4.0.
As well as solar charging, the Forerunner 955 also added a touchscreen interface which, in my experience, is less smooth than the Fenix 7X. It's not as laggy as the Polar Vantage V2, but it wobbles slightly, so to say. Thankfully, you can still control the Forerunner 955 using the five buttons around the edge of the case.
The Garmin Forerunner 955 can measure running power in real-time, but sadly, you'll need an external heart rate monitor or running pod such as the Garmin HRM-Pro to be able to access this feature. Other running and multisport wearables – COROS Pace 2 and Polar Pacer Pro – can do this without the external sensors, so I'm not sure why the premium Forerunner 955 can't.
I also wish Garmin included an AMOLED Forerunner 955 option. Wearables such as the Huawei Watch GT Runner have a large AMOLED display yet provide users with week-long battery life; why can't I have an AMOLED Forerunner!? I could have an AMOLED Fenix in the form of the Epix 2.
Sure, thanks to the MIP screen and the Power Glass, battery life on the Forerunner 955 Solar is pretty darn good: up to 20 days in smartwatch mode and 49 hours in GPS mode. Still, I wish there was an option to enjoy all the watch features in full HD, like a Garmin Venu 2, but for pro athletes.
On a more positive note, the Forerunner 955 now provides a Morning Report that I find quite cute: you can receive the day's weather, daily workout suggestion and information about last night's sleep and HRV status when paired with a smartphone. This is a lovely little feature that I hope will make its way to other watches soon.
Another new feature is the Race Widget, which tells you race prep information, including race day-specific performance prediction, weather, and a countdown clock. Once a race is scheduled, daily suggested workouts will adapt based on your race plans.
Truth to be told, I only had the watch for 48 hours, so many functions are not yet calibrated – it will take weeks for the Forerunner 955 to assess my HRV baseline – I can't wait to put the watch through its paces and see how it performs under training conditions!
Available now at Garmin US (opens in new tab), Garmin UK (opens in new tab) and Garmin AU (opens in new tab), the Forerunner 955 Solar has a suggested retail price of $599.99/£549.99/AU$949. A non-solar charging version, the Forerunner 955, is also available with a suggested retail price of $499.99/£479.99/AU$799.