With the Garmin Forerunner 965 set to arrive very soon, is the Fenix 8 next?

Garmin Fenix 7 watch on woman's wrist
(Image credit: Future)

Until recently, Garmin always spaced its watch releases quite far apart, with at least two years in between each model. However, it looks like the company has now kicking things up a gear, with the Garmin Forerunner 965 and Forerunner 265 expected to launch just a year after their predecessors.

That's come as a real surprise to many Garmin watch fans, and some people who picked up the Forerunner 955 or 255 last year have expressed dismay that their cutting-edge device is going to be outdated so soon.

"Well, I just purchased a 955 4 days ago & am gonna return it tomorrow & wait for the 965!!!" one frustrated owner posted on Reddit after a golf retailer accidentally leaked details of the 965.

It seemed strange to me at first too, but the more I think about it, the more logical it seems – mostly because of Apple.

Apple vs Garmin

Apple is rapidly encroaching on Garmin's territory, edging ever closer into sports tracking rather than just everyday wellness. Last year the company added the ability to track advanced running metrics (including running power, cadence, and ground contact time) directly from your wrist without any additional sensors and accessories. Garmin followed suit shortly after, but by that point it seemed late to the game.

Then Apple really took a bite out of Garmin's lunch with the launch of the Apple Watch Ultra – a smartwatch designed specifically with outdoor adventures in mind, featuring a tougher case than the Apple Watch Series 8, a larger dial and programmable physical button, and even a distress siren.

Garmin soon fought back on social media by poking fun at the Ultra's 36-hour battery life, comparing it to the Garmin Enduro.

Garmin seemed cocky, but perhaps it's more worried than it's letting on – particularly with rumors of an Apple Watch Ultra 2 already starting to heat up.

Apple has always followed an annual release schedule with its watches, rolling out a new model every year without fail since 2015. Sometimes the hardware changes were minor (the biggest difference between the Apple Watch Series 6 and 7 was a fractionally larger screen), but every 12 months there's anticipation that reaches a crescendo in the fall when CEO Tim Cook reveals the latest iteration.

Now that Apple is competing for space on the same athletes' wrists, it may be that Garmin feels the need to keep up and begin its own yearly launch schedule – hence the early arrival of the Forerunner 965 and 265. They may not be hugely different from their predecessors (early signs suggest the new AMOLED displays may be the only real upgrade) but it helps fill the void between major launches.

So what of the Fenix range? Will Garmin's flagship sports watch also be getting annual upgrades from now on?

My instinct is no – not just because there have been no leaks so far (Garmin can keep sensitive info tightly under wraps when it really needs to), but because we already have one. The Garmin Epix (Gen 2) is almost identical to the Fenix 7X in terms of hardware but with an AMOLD display, so that gap is already filled.

When the Fenix 8 arrives (likely next year) it'll need to be a much more substantial upgrade. Perhaps it might even be the watch where we see Garmin's patented solar AMOLED tech put into production. Only time will tell.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 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), usually wearing at least two sports watches.