Garmin Forerunner 265 and 965 announced with new AMOLED screens – but not much else

Garmin Forerunner 265S on wrist
(Image credit: Future)

The Garmin Forerunner 965 and 265 have been unveiled by Garmin today (March 2), with both models featuring an updated AMOLED full-color touchscreen and a redesigned start-stop button in the upper-right.

Most of the best Garmin watches feature a memory-in-pixel, or MIP, display rather than the smooth AMOLED screen common on other smartwatches. Both the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Apple Watch Series 8 use AMOLED displays, and this update brings the Forerunner series in line with some of the other best running watches and best smartwatches on shelves right now. 

The Garmin Forerunner 965 is also slightly bigger than its predecessor, the Garmin Forerunner 955, with a 47mm case and a 454 x 454 px screen measuring 1.4 inches, rather than the 1.3-inch display used by its predecessor. The larger size of the 965 also means a redesigned watch case and titanium bezel, and that start-stop button in the upper-right is now bigger, appropriately labeled ‘run’. After all, it’s what you’ll be using to start your runs. 

The Forerunner 965 features up to 31 hours of battery life in GPS mode and up to 23 days in smartwatch mode. As well as the standard black and whitestone colors, it also packs a very attractive 'amp yellow' option.

Garmin Forerunners 965, 265 and 265S

(Image credit: Garmin)

The Garmin Forerunner 265 also packs that redesigned ‘run’ button, the beautiful AMOLED touchscreen (the 255 was buttons only), and incorporates Garmin’s Training Readiness score, which was not available on its predecessor, the 255. 

The Training Readiness score debuted last year on the Garmin Forerunner 955 – it’s an updated version of Garmin’s Body Battery metric, which takes into account your recent training efforts, sleep score and time spent at rest in order to determine how intense your next exercise session should be. For example, A Training Readiness score of 55, or ‘Moderate’, means you’re probably fit for mild-to-strenuous exertion, while a score of 30, or ‘low’, means you should take a rest day.

The Garmin Forerunner 265 comes in two sizes, the 46mm 265 and the smaller 42mm 265S (pictured below and above). The 265s features up to 24 hours of battery life in GPS mode and up to 15 days in smartwatch mode, while the larger 265 offers up to 20 hours of battery life in GPS mode and up to 13 days in smartwatch mode.

The watches are priced at $$599.99 for the 965, and $449.99 for the 265. We’ll update this article with full prices for the UK and Australia as soon as the news breaks.

Garmin Forerunner 265S with redesigned run button

(Image credit: Future)
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Garmin Forerunner 965 and 265 specs:
ComponentGarmin Forerunner 965Garmin Forerunner 265Garmin Forerunner 265S
Price$599.99 $459.99$459.99
Dimensions47.2 x 47.2 x 13.2 (mm)46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9 (mm)41.7 x 41.7 x 12.9 (mm)
Weight53 g47g39g
Display454 x 454 px AMOLED, Corning Gorilla Glass416 x 416 px AMOLED, Corning Gorilla Glass360 x 360 px AMOLED, Corning Gorilla Glass
Battery life23 days (31 hours GPS)13 days (20 hours GPS)15 days (25 hours GPS)
ConnectionBluetooth, ANT+, Wi-FiBluetooth, ANT+, Wi-FiBluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
Water resistant?Yes, 5ATMYes, 5ATMYes, 5ATM

Analysis: An iterative update 

Other than the screens and the features mentioned above, little else has changed between these watches and the last generation of Forerunners, which arrived in June last year. They pack the same chipsets, satellite connectivity, notification functionalities, and training functions as the 955 and 255. There was a three-year gap between the release of the ‘45 and ‘55 Forerunners, so these iterative updates less than a year after the release of the 955 and 255 is a surprise move by Garmin.

The Epix series is essentially the Garmin Fenix series with the same beautiful AMOLED screen, so Garmin has previous form for getting mileage out of slapping a new screen onto an existing model. 

However, the fact that Garmin has released two new entries in its Forerunner series mere months after their predecessors is an interesting move, and I previously wondered if this signals the start of a pattern of smaller, annual updates, along the lines of Apple’s update cycle for the Apple Watch.

As it is, I’ve been somewhat spoiled by Garmin’s less regular but more substantial updates, so I can’t help but feel underwhelmed at the lack of any real change here. 

Users who recently bought the 955 and 255 thinking they were picking up Garmin’s latest tech will likely feel short-changed. The Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar was my pick for watch of the year in 2022, even with a MIP screen, so although I’m excited at the prospect of an even better-looking version of my favorite wearable, I don’t believe that anyone who owns the 955 or 255 will be convinced to upgrade just yet. Watch this space for our full review of the 965 and our early hands-on review of the Garmin Forerunner 265S.  

Matt Evans
Fitness, Wellness, and Wearables Editor

Matt is TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.

Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.