It sounds like Garmin may copy the Apple Watch with a yearly Forerunner release

Garmin Forerunner 945 running watch
(Image credit: Future)

The Garmin Forerunner 965 and 265 may be arriving far, far sooner than expected. Ordinarily, Garmin leaves its watches to settle for at least two years before delivering an updated version, but that might be about to change, frustrating fans who thought they were buying the latest tech last year. 

The Garmin Forerunner 945 and 245 arrived in 2019, and an updated Garmin Forerunner 955 and 255 didn't land until 2022, three years later. Technology had moved on to a point in which updates were seen as necessary, as the new watches boasted better recovery metrics, improved fitness tracking, and more advanced GPS tools. Consequently, both watches earned their place on our list of the best Garmin watches.

However, a slew of rumors hinted at the 965 and 265 watches arriving this year, in a big break from tradition. If true, Garmin may be planning an annual release for the Forerunners, just like Apple does with its own watches. 

The rumors began when the5Krunner posted an image of a prototype Garmin Forerunner 265, which the site stated were from an anonymous yet reliable source. A new AMOLED screen was the biggest feature here, replacing the older memory-in-pixel display common on Garmin watches today. 

An early listing on a golfing website, published and quickly taken down according to our sibling site Advnture, hinted at more details for the 965 and 465, including pricing, colorways, and the fact the 265 will have the Training Readiness score, an updated version of Garmin's Body Battery introduced with the Forerunner 955 and subsequently rolled out to the Garmin Fenix range. Other retailer leaks followed, such as the below, suggesting the watches are ready to roll.

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Analysis: Copying Apple for the wrong reasons

In our last few reviews of the Apple Watch 7 and Apple Watch 8, we've lauded the watches but complained the updates are extremely iterative. Very little hardware and technology has changed in the Apple Watch over the last few generations, and often only a couple of key features are introduced each year. We'd love it if Apple Watch got weird like some Huawei and Garmin watches though.

Each time an updated version is released and it's not significantly different, the incentive to buy a new watch shrinks. If it's basically the same tech, why not get the older, cheaper model? 

If Garmin wants to update its Forerunner line less than a year after the last one, will it fall into the same trap? People who bought a Garmin Forerunner 255 over the holidays will be understandably annoyed if the 265 debuts in April, complete with a better screen and updated features. However, the 955 already uses Training Readiness scores so it will need to debut with something extra, like the long-rumored skin temperature sensor alongside an updated butter-smooth AMOLED screen, to justify the new model's existence.

Will Garmin transition into annual releases for other watches, rather than the Forerunner? If the rumors are true and this launch is a big money-spinner, Garmin might think about changing its strategy to regular, iterative updates rather than overhauling its watches every few years. I prefer the current model, as each new watch feels far more innovative, but there's no denying shiny new models grab everyone's attention.

However, it works for Apple because there are only a handful of watches in the lineup: the 8, the SE 2, and the Ultra. Garmin has an enormous catalog of watches for every occasion, from the ultra-premium Garmin Enduro 2 to the cheap Vivoactive range, and everything in between. With a smorgasbord of watches already available, do we really need new ones every year? No. But money talks.

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.