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Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Garmin Forerunner 955: find your perfect watch

Garmin Forerunner 945 and Garmin Forerunner 955 collage
(Image credit: Garmin)

Struggling to choose between the Garmin Forerunner 955 and 945? We're here to help. After all, they're two of the best Garmin watches, and although the newer watch offers improved battery life, more activity tracking profiles, and new training tools, it's not necessarily the better choice for everyone. 

Firstly, there's the matter of price. Although the standard Garmin Forerunner 955 costs less than the Forerunner 945 did at launch, the older watch is now available much more cheaply at third-party stores like Amazon, and has been particularly deeply discounted since the 955 went on sale. If you're looking for a watch for under $400 / £400, the 945 is the one for you.

It's also worth bearing in mind that Garmin is very good at supporting its older watches with new features, and several of the tools that debuted with the Forerunner 955 in June have already been rolled out to the Forerunner 945 LTE – a watch that sits somewhere between the 945 and 955, and lets you access mobile services without a Bluetooth connection to your phone.

Battery life is another big factor. The standard Forerunner 955 offers slightly better longevity between charges than the 945, but if you opt for the Forerunner 955 Solar, you'll see a drastic improvement. 

If you've made up your mind which is the best GPS watch for you, we've rounded up the best deals on both watches for you right here. If not, read on for a full breakdown of all the differences to help you decide.

Price

  • Forerunner 945 now available more cheaply
  • Forerunner 955 solar costs more than standard version

The Garmin Forerunner 945 launched in April 2019 for $599.99 / £519.99. It's now available much more cheaply at most retailers, and since the launch of the 955 it's sometimes been steeply discounted as stores clear old stock, There's also the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE, which launched in June 2021 for $649.99 in the US, but was never launched in the UK.

The Garmin Forerunner 955 was released in June 2022, costing $499.99 / £479.99 for the standard edition, and $599.99 / £549.99 for the solar edition. We've yet to see any significant discounts on the list price.

Case size and materials

  • Each watch comes in one size
  • Forerunner 955 has smaller case diameter
  • All cases made of fiber-reinforced resin

Unlike many recent Garmin watches, the Forerunner 945 and 955 come in just one size (both the standard and solar versions of the 955 are the same). The case of the Forerunner 945 measures 47 x 47 x 13.7 mm, while the newer Forerunner 955 has a case that's ever so slightly smaller in diameter but thicker, at 46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4mm.

Both the 945 and 955 have cases made from fiber-reinforced polymer. The 945 is only available in black unless you opt for the version that comes bundled with the Garmin HRM-Swim and HRM-Tri heart rate monitors, which is blue. The 945 LTE, 955, and 955 Solar are all available in either black or white.

Both devices come with quick-release silicone straps, which you can swap for others bought separately.

Garmin Forerunner 945 bundle with two heart rate monitors

The Forerunner 945 is available by itself in black, or in a bundle with two heart rate monitors in blue (Image credit: Garmin)

Display size and type

  • Only the Forerunner 955 has a touchscreen
  • Forerunner 955's display is larger and higher resolution
  • Forerunner 955 available with optional Power Glass

Both the Forerunner 945 and 955 have color memory-in-pixel displays, which are less striking than OLED but consume less power, resulting in longer battery life.

The Forerunner 945's display has a diameter of 1.2in and a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels. Despite its smaller case size, the Forerunner 945 has a slightly larger screen, which measures 1.3in in diameter and has a resolution of 260 x 260 pixels. The higher screen resolution means graphs and text are clearer and easier to read on the 955.

The biggest difference between the two, however, is that the Forerunner 955 has a touchscreen, which can be used in addition to the five buttons around the watch's bezel, or turned off if you prefer. The Forerunner 945 doesn't have a touchscreen, and is controlled entirely with its buttons.

Both watches are equipped with Corning Gorilla Glass lenses as standard, but there's also a Forerunner 955 Solar with Garmin's Power Glass. This extends the watch's battery life significantly with regular exposure to sunlight.

Garmin Forerunner 955 GPS watch

The Garmin Forerunner 945 Solar features the company's Power Glass, which keeps its battery topped up (Image credit: Future)

Sensors

  • Both have heart rate and SpO2 sensors
  • Both support GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo
  • Only Forerunner 955 has multi-frequency positioning

The Garmin Forerunner 945 and 955 are both equipped with optical heart rate sensors and SpO2 sensors to track blood oxygen saturation (either continuously overnight, or as spot checks).

Both support the three major satellite navigation systems (GPS, Galileo, and GLONASS), but only the 955 supports multi-frequency positioning, which results in more accurate location tracking.

Both watches have a barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, and thermometer,

Smartwatch features

  • Basic functions very similar
  • Forerunner 955 has twice the music storage
  • Forerunner 945 LTE lets you use mobile services without phone

In terms of everyday smartwatch features, the Forerunner 945 and 955 are very similar. Both offer Garmin's standard suite of tools, including the ability to receive smartphone notifications, decline calls automatically with a text message if you have an Android phone, calendar and weather widgets, and Garmin Pay for making contactless purchases.

Both watches allow you to control music playback on your phone, and offer on-device storage so you can listen to songs or podcasts without your handset. The standard Forerunner 945 can store up to 1,000 songs, while the standard 955 has space for up to 2,000.

There are some other differences too. For example, the Forerunner 955 allows you to access the Garmin Connect IQ store directly through the watch itself rather than using your phone, lets you configure a personal low power mode that prioritizes the functions you use most often.

The Forerunner 945 LTE allows you to use mobile data services (such as uploading workouts, streaming music, and downloading maps) without a Bluetooth connection to your phone. At the time of writing there's no Forerunner 955 LTE edition, but that might change in the future.

When you wake, the Forerunner 955 presents you with a Morning Report describing how you slept, providing a short weather forecast, and giving a preview of your calendar (all customizable through the watch's settings). Although not available for the Forerunner 945 at the time of writing, this is coming to the older watch through an upcoming software update.

Man using Garmin Forerunner 945 watch

Many of the Forerunner 955's new training tools are coming to the 945 LTE, but no the standard 945 (Image credit: Garmin)

Fitness tracking features

  • Both powerful and capable multi-sports watches
  • Many of Forerunner 955's new features coming to 955 LTE
  • Forerunner 955 offers more advanced navigation tools

Both the Forerunner 945 and 955 are impressive multi-sports watches that monitor a huge range of running, cycling, swimming, and other activities. However, the Forerunner 955 offers many more specific activity options, such as virtual and ultra running, backcountry skiing, gravel biking, and open water swimming – reflecting the increasing popularity of getting outdoors and off-road.

The Forerunner 955 offers many extra training tools, such as real-time stamina (which shows how much energy you have left during a workout), native running power (using an additional device like a Garmin HRM or Running Dynamics Pod), heart rate variability, a race day widget to help you prepare for events, and acute training load measurement. All of these features are due to arrive on the Forerunner 945 LTE very soon with a software update, but aren't expected to come to the regular 945.

However, not all the of 955's new features are currently slated to arrive on older watches. For example, the newer watch offers a rest timer, VO2 max calculations for road and train running activities, plus new navigation tools like Up Ahead (opens in new tab), and Sight N Go (opens in new tab)(which navigates to a point that you can see, but can't reach directly).

Cat Ellis
Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).