A Garmin Forerunner 265S displays a native watch face.

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

To oversimplify, Garmin’s Forerunner 265 adds a fresh face to the already powerful Forerunner 255 feature set. Beyond their contrasting screens, the devices share many core features. In fact, a number of the new generation’s software updates will even roll back to the previous one, keeping the Garmin devices neck and neck. On the other hand, the 265 does pack a few important upgrades that differentiate the device from its older siblings. Find out which fitness tracker is the right pick for your wrist in this Garmin Forerunner 255 vs 265 comparison.

Garmin Forerunner 255 vs 265: At a glance

  • The Garmin Forerunner 255 and 265 represent subsequent models of Garmin’s midrange running watch line.
  • The Garmin Forerunner 255 features a 64-color MIP display while the 265 features a full-color AMOLED display.
  • The Forerunner 255 is available in both a standard model and a Music edition which supports offline music storage. The Forerunner 265 features music storage as standard.
  • Both lines are available in two sizes.
  • The devices share the same core experience, including most of Garmin’s top training tools, accurate GPS tracking, and a reliable heart rate monitor.
  • Training Readiness is only available on the Forerunner 265.

Garmin Forerunner 255 vs 265: Specs

Garmin Forerunner 255/255S Garmin Forerunner 265

Displays

Garmin Forerunner 255/255S

41mm:
1.1-inch MIP
218 x 218 resolution

46mm:
1.3-inch MIP
260 x 260 resolution

Garmin Forerunner 265

42mm:
1.1-inch AMOLED, optional always-on
360 x 360 resolution

46mm:
1.3-inch MIP
416 x 416 resolution

Dimensions and weight

Garmin Forerunner 255/255S

41mm:
41 x 41 x 12.4mm
39g w/o strap
Fits wrists 110-175mm

46mm:
45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9mm
49g w/o strap
Fits wrists 130-205mm

Garmin Forerunner 265

42mm:
41.7 x 41.7 x 12.9mm
40 w/o straps
Fits wrists 115-178mm

46mm:
46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9mm
46g w/o strap
Fits wrists 135-205mm

Colors and materials

Garmin Forerunner 255/255S

41mm:
Color: Powder Gray or Light Pink
Material: Gorilla Glass 3 display, Fiber-reinforced polymer bezel, silicone strap

46mm:
Color: Tidal Blue or Slate Grey
Material: Gorilla Glass 3 display, Fiber-reinforced polymer bezel, silicone strap

Garmin Forerunner 265

42mm:
Color: Black/Amp Yello, Whitestone/Neo Tropic, or Light Pink/Powder Grey
Material: Gorilla Glass 3 display, Fiber-reinforced polymer bezel, silicone strap

46mm:
Color: Whitestone/Tidal Blue, Black/Powder Grey, or Aqua/Black
Material: Gorilla Glass 3 display, Fiber-reinforced polymer bezel, silicone strap

Battery

Garmin Forerunner 255/255S

41mm
Up to 12 days in smartwatch mode
Up to 26 hours in GPS-only GNSS mode
Up to 20 hours in All-Systems GNSS mode

46mm:
Up to 14 days in smartwatch mode
Up to 30 hours in GPS-only GNSS mode
Up to 25 hours in All-Systems GNSS Mode

Garmin Forerunner 265

42mm:
Up to 15 days in smartwatch mode
Up to 24 hours GPS-only GNSS mode
Up to 15 hours in All-Systems GNSS mode

46mm:
Up to 13 days in smartwatch mode
Up to 20 hours in GPS-only GNSS mode
Up to 14 hours in All-Systems GNSS Mode

Sensors

Garmin Forerunner 255/255S

GPS
GLONASS
GALILEO
Multi-Frequency Positioning
Garmin Elevates
Barometric Altimeters
Compass
Gyroscope
Accelerometers
thermometer
Pulse Ox Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor

Garmin Forerunner 265

GPS
GLONASS
GALILEO
Multi-Frequency Positioning
Garmin Elevates
Barometric Altimeters
Compass
Gyroscope
Accelerometers
thermometer
Pulse Ox Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor

durability

Garmin Forerunner 255/255S

5ATM

Garmin Forerunner 265

5ATM

connectivity

Garmin Forerunner 255/255S

NFC
bluetooth
Wi-Fi

Garmin Forerunner 265

NFC
bluetooth
Wi-Fi

compatibility

Garmin Forerunner 255/255S

Android and iOS

Garmin Forerunner 265

Android and iOS

When comparing the Forerunner 255 vs 265, the most important thing to know is that both are great fitness trackers. During our Forerunner 255 review, we felt the device brought significant improvement to the Forerunner line with NFC support and upgraded sensors. Before it was outdone by the 265, we consider it the best midrange running watch you could buy.

Still, Garmin has a knack for giving users exactly what they ask for and the Forerunner 265 is a fantastic example. Running enthusiasts were eager for an AMOLED display on a device that wouldn’t break the bank and the Forerunner 265 fills that void. The new model features a vibrant, AMOLED touchscreen display, a major boost in resolution, and an updated UI that’s equally crisp. We found the user experience much cleaner and more enjoyable than that of a MIP display during our Garmin Forerunner 265 review. All-in-all, the change elevates Garmin’s mid-budget lineup to the aesthetics of a modern smartwatch, including an optional always-on mode.

The biggest difference between the Forerunner 255 and 265 are their respective displays and the availability of Garmin’s Training Readiness.

Of course, the best part of any screen is the information you can access on it. On both generations, Garmin delivers tons of useful performance training metrics. These tools include everything from Body Battery, and Morning Report to Pace Pro, and much, much more. Even built-in running dynamics, which were introduced with the Forerunner 265, will roll back to the older generation.

The major exception that can only be found in the newest lineup is Training Readiness. This is a hugely beneficial tool for analyzing how prepared you are for a given workout. In our opinion, it’s a metric that alone might sway serious athletes to pick up the pricier new generation.

Fortunately, those athletes will also likely be able to find a solid fit as, like the previous model, the 265 series is still available in two sizes. The line’s 42mm and 46mm cases are just slightly larger than the 255’s 41mm and 44mm options. Unlike the previous model, however, the new lineup includes offline music storage as standard so there’s no longer the need to pay extra for a Music edition.

As far as a Forerunner 255 vs 265 comparison in terms of power, battery life isn’t significantly different between the two devices. A bright, AMOLED display will always use up your battery faster and always-on mode will drain it quickest. Without always-on mode though, the 265 offers multi-week use between charges, just like its predecessor. The newest lineup didn’t bring wireless charging to the table, so either way, you’re left with a Garmin proprietary charging cable.

Finally, there are a few things missing in both lineups that are worth considering. Users won’t find an ECG-compatible heart rate sensor, (like on the Venu 2 Plus), in either generation. They also don’t offer fully-baked smartwatch experiences. Neither generation packs a speaker or microphone, so on-device voice calls are also a no-go.

Garmin Forerunner 255 vs 265: Price

Garmin Forerunner 255: $349 / €349 / £299
Garmin Forerunner 255 Music: $399 / €399 / £349

Garmin Forerunner 265: $449 / €429 / £499
Garmin Forerunner 265S: $449 / €429 / £499

At launch, the Garmin Forerunner 255 hit shelves listed at $349 for a standard model. A Music edition pulled an extra $50 from shoppers’ wallets. As mentioned above, either edition is available in two sizes, and pricing does not change based on the size you choose. As the devices are still fairly new, you may still find them priced around the same. On the other hand, Garmin devices tend to go on sale once a newer model is available.

When the Forerunner 265 landed, Garmin simplified the lineup by adding music storage as a base feature. This also simplifies pricing to a single $449 cost across the board. The 265 and 265S offer the same experience and features, they’re simply different sizes. While yes, the upgraded lineup did receive a $50 price bump, the markup is pretty moderate compared to rising prices in the wearables market in general.

Garmin Forerunner 255Garmin Forerunner 255
AA Recommended

Garmin Forerunner 255

Multiple sizes to fit more wrists • Supports NFC and Garmin Pay • Gyroscope and barometric altimeter

Garmin’s mid-level, fitness-tracking smartwatch is loaded with features

The Garmin Forerunner 255 offers accurate GPS tracking and solid battery life in an attractive package. It’s even available in two case sizes with optional music support. With Garmin’s powerful training tools on board including an updated triathlon mode, it’s easy to recommend to any athlete.

Garmin Forerunner 265Garmin Forerunner 265
AA Editors' Choice

Garmin Forerunner 265

AMOLED display • Music storage • GPS • Health and fitness tracking

Night runs just got a whole lot brighter

Stepping up from its predecessor, the Garmin Forerunner 265 offers the same great features, with improvements to make it a reliable, lightweight running watch with an AMOLED display.

Garmin Forerunner 255 vs 265: Which should you buy?

The final call on the choice of a Forerunner 255 vs 265 comes down to personal preference and budget. Luckily, either way, you’ll end up with a winning device. If an AMOLED display is a priority, the answer is easy. If you’re more interested in substance than style, the answer may be less decisive. Both generations pack tons of sport modes and training tools, plus accurate sensors backed by an incredible fitness-tracking platform.

Which would you buy: The Garmin Forerunner 255, 255 Music, or 265?

6 votes

Garmin is also known to support its devices for many years, so there’s no real risk in choosing the older tech. If you want to save some cash we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a Forerunner 255. On the flip side, Training Readiness is a unique and valuable tool for athletes. Anyone who wants every imaginable stat at their disposal should strongly consider the newer Forerunner 265. Even if you already own a Forerunner 255, Training Readiness alone might warrant an upgrade.


FAQs

Though not waterproof, both the Forerunner 255 and 265 feature a water resistance rating of 5ATM.

Yes, you can swim with both the Forerunner 255 and 265 to depths up to 50 meters.

Yes, 5ATM water resistance makes both lineups safe to wear while showering. Afterward, Garmin recommends drying the device thoroughly as well as your wrist.

The Forerunner 255 Music edition, 265, and 265S all support offline music storage. However, you will need to pair the devices with Bluetooth headphones to listen.

Both the Forerunner 255 and 265 provide automatic sleep detection.

Yes, all Forerunner 255 and 265 devices feature NFC support for Garmin Pay.

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