Last year Garmin introduced the 255, arguably their best value watch in many years. Fast forward 10 months and we arrive at the Garmin Forerunner 265offering the desired AMOLED screen of the Epix for a more economical price and offering multiband in any of its versions.
In terms of software it also offers slight improvements, because the FR265 also includes the Training Predisposition metric that until now was only present in the high-end models.
I always like to remind you of the origin of the devices I test. In this case the Forerunner 265 of the test has been bought by me in store. I could have continued to wait for a temporary transfer from Garmin, but the stock is being quite limited and I did not want to make you wait any longer for poder to give you the review.
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- Fantastic AMOLED display
- Perfectly valid autonomy (without activating screen always on).
- Good satellite reception performance
- Includes Training Predisposition, not present in FR255
- High price for mid-range
- Low performance as a smartwatch
What's new Garmin Forerunner 265
What is a Garmin FR265? Basically an FR255 Music with the addition of the AMOLED display. With one caveat, and that is that the Forerunner 265 has the training bias metric, something not available on the 255. There are also two sizes available: the standard 46mm and the smaller, 42mm in diameter.
- 1.3″ (FR265) or 1.1″ (FR265S) AMOLED touch screen. Same as 255 and 255S
- Display can remain always on or turn on with a twist of the wrist
- Much higher screen resolution in both the small and large models
- Diameter of 46.1mm and 41.7mm respectively, slightly wider than the transflective display model
- 47 grams and 39 grams for the Forerunner 265 and Forerunner 265S, almost the same as the others.
- New design of the main button, which is no longer round but has grown in size
- Garmin Elevate V4 Optical Pulse Sensor
- Multi-band satellite reception with SatIQ option for smart selection (reached 255 after upgrade)
- Barometric altimeter
- Up to 20 hours of GPS-only use on the 265 (30 on the 255), or 24 hours of GPS-only use on the 265S (26 on the 255S).
- Same morning report functions, pulse variability tracking, training status, etc.
- Adds Training Predisposition, something that is not in the 255 but is in the 955/965.
- Running power estimation, now directly from the wrist (reached 255 after upgrade)
- Advanced running dynamics directly from the wrist (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc.)
- Triathlon and open water swim profile
- Garmin Pay
- Available colors: 265 in black, white or turquoise. 265S in black, white or pink.
- The price goes up to 499€ (100€ extra compared to 255 Music).
Garmin Forerunner 265 vs Garmin Forerunner 255
How does the direct comparison of the Garmin Forerunner 255 and the Garmin Forerunner 265 compare? I'll put it to you below in a few points.
- Transflective display on the Forerunner 255, AMOLED on the Forerunner 265
- Touch screen on the Forerunner 265, the Forerunner 255 is not.
- Forerunner 265 has music, on the Forerunner 255 you have to opt for the Music version.
- Forerunner 265 has Training Predisposition, Forerunner 255 does not.
- The user interface of the Forerunner 265 is a bit more modern, mainly to take advantage of the quality of the screen.
- Increased range on the Forerunner 255
Garmin Forerunner 265 vs Garmin Forerunner 965
The Garmin Forerunner 265 came to market alongside the Forerunner 965, which is itself the AMOLED version of the 955. The differences between them are basically the same as those between the Forerunner 255 and Forerunner 955, with a few small extra additions.
- Although both models use AMOLED display, the Forerunner 965's is larger: 1.4″ for 1.3″ of the Forerunner 265 (and 1.1″ of the Forerunner 265S).
- The Forerunner 265 is made entirely of plastic. The Forerunner 965 has a titanium bezel.
- Full maps on the Forerunner 965, not available on the Forerunner 265, although it does have route tracking. It also lacks some map-dependent navigation features and the Next Fork feature.
- ClimbPro is not available on the Forerunner 265, it is available on the Forerunner 965.
- The Garmin Forerunner 965 has some metrics that the Forerunner 265 lacks: Stamina, Training Load Ratio, Garmin Cycling Dynamics, Automatic FTP detection
- Longer satellite usage autonomy on the 965 compared to the 265: Up to 31 hours of GPS vs. 20 hours/24 hours of 265/265S
- Longer daily use autonomy on the 965 as well: Up to 23 days, compared to 13 days on the Forerunner 265 and 15 days on the Forerunner 265S.
Well, I think there is enough data to make you a bit dizzy, so let's go on with the details and analysis.
The Garmin Forerunner 265, like any other Garmin
If you've opted for the Forerunner 265 over the Forerunner 255 it's undoubtedly because of its AMOLED touchscreen. It's really the only reason to do so because, leaving aside the minor differences noted above, both are the same.
And speaking of equalities... I guess it is already clear but both Forerunner 265 and Forerunner 265S are completely identical except for watch size, screen size and autonomy. And as a curiosity, in this version the smaller watch has more autonomy. Why? Well, because its screen has lower power consumption.
The design of the watch is fairly continuous, although the main button changes slightly. It is now a larger elongated button, instead of the classic round button we had until now. And yes, the screen is touchscreen, which is not present on the Forerunner 255.
I appreciate that Garmin still keeps the five control buttons on the watch, because I prefer their use to the touchscreen. I rarely use it, although it doesn't hurt to have it for some functions. However in this case it is not as important as in the models with maps, where it is an essential extra.
The AMOLED display has two configuration possibilities: always on or with wrist turn. And 1TP7We can configure its behavior separately for training or for everyday use.
If you want to conserve battery you should choose to turn off the screen always on, if you want to contemplate its beauty at all times you will have to pay the toll of passing more times through the charger.
One thing to keep in mind is that even though we have a high quality display, this is not a smartwatch. It's exactly the same as any other Forerunner, for better and for worse. We have Garmin Pay, music playback, the ability to install apps or different watch faces... but not much else.
That is, if you buy a Forerunner it has to be for its sport functions and not for what you are going to do with it as a smartwatch. You can't reply to messages (only predefined messages on Android), you can't make or answer calls, there are no generalist apps, etc.
What it is very complete is in its health monitoring aspect. We have record and monitoring of many data of our daily life: Steps, floors climbed (because yes, it has barometric altimeter), heart rate, sleep analysis, Body Battery, etc.. It is possible to view this data both on the watch and in the app.
And as the heading of this section says, it is like any other Garmin. For the good, but also for the bad, and is that there is no improvement in the "smart watch" section. Not that it has nothing, because at the end we have the possibility to install watch faces, widgets or simple applications. It also supports music from streaming platforms and wireless payments through Garmin Pay.
But now that we already have an AMOLED screen in a generalized form is missing poder speak directly from the watch or voice assistants (something that does have the Venu 2 Plus). Reply to messages with voice, at least on Android (Apple does not allow it). In short, having given some more prominence to the AMOLED screen in addition to having beautiful colors.
Living with AMOLED display
This screen is the one that represents a radical change in brightness and image quality with respect to other models in the Forerunner range.
What is it like to live in an AMOLED screen in a watch for sports? Well, with the amount of brightness that already reach this type of screens does not present problems of any kind. And do not be afraid of how it looks when there is a lot of ambient light, because it will look just as good as when we are in a dark area.
For starters, the AMOLED has much higher resolution: 416×416 pixels on the 265 vs. 260×260 pixels on the 255, so images, fonts and graphics will look better. The user interface does not vary too much from other models, but it is somewhat adapted to this type of display and uses more colors, more details and even images for sport profiles.
The main fear that all users always have is the visibility of the display in bright sunlight, where the transflective display shines (yes, the pun was obvious...). This is not something to worry about, because even under the strongest lighting it is possible to see the data on the display without any problem.
The only time when the visibility of the transflective display may be higher is when you are not looking directly at the display, for example while driving or with your hand on the handlebars of your bike. At those times a transflective display is somewhat clearer because of its white background, but only if it has direct light incidence.
This is if we are talking about outdoors. Indoors, no matter the situation, the AMOLED screen is much more visible in all circumstances. And where I appreciate this screen the most is at the pool. It allows me to see the data on the screen while doing the flip at a quick glance, something that is totally impossible with the transflective screen.
We have many options for the display. The most important one is the always on screen setting. By default this option is disabled to optimize battery usage. This way the screen remains off and will only turn on when you turn your wrist, press a button or there is any kind of notification on the watch.
In the autonomy of this model I think it is the most interesting option. Because we go well on battery, but it is not something exaggerated, and as the wrist gesture recognition works quite well and is quick to react will keep the battery usage in something quite reasonable.
If you activate the always on screen option, you will see information on the screen at all times. By default a lower power screen is shown where there is less brightness and colors and, when we turn the wrist or there is any interaction, it changes to its normal screen and increases the brightness.
There are other settings, such as the standby time with the screen on or the screen brightness. I found the default setting to be more than correct and, without being the maximum brightness capacity, it is perfectly valid in all occasions.
But the watch has an illumination sensor, so depending on what you have selected it will then operate taking into account the outside light as well.
Naturally, it is necessary to talk about battery life. And it is that the power consumption of AMOLED screens is much higher than that of transflective ones. So far everything has been positive points, but autonomy is also something to take into account, although at this point it should also be noted that the overall consumption of the entire watch is very low (processor, satellites, internal sensors, etc.) so it is possible to allocate energy to things like this.
Proof that this is a very important aspect of the watch, Garmin has an incredibly comprehensive section detailing the watch's autonomy with great accuracy under given circumstances, so that you can then make your own calculations.
So that you can appreciate the difference between the always on and always off display mode, here is the Garmin data for a very specific use (detailed in the link above)
- Autonomy in use as smartwatch with screen off: Up to 13 days (15d on 265S)
- Autonomy in use as a smartwatch with screen always on: Up to 5 days (5d on 265S)
So we go from a frankly good autonomy to one that, in the year 2023, falls short. Hence my recommendation to opt for the screen off option. The performance is good and the impact is not so high. Different may be in the case of the Forerunner 965 or Epix 2 with larger batteries.
While I'm on the subject of autonomy... how is it while we're doing sports? It's not stellar (the 255's isn't either), but sufficient for the type of watch it is and the constraints of its display:
- GPS-only mode: Up to 20 hours (24h in 265S)
- Automatic satellite selection mode: Up to 16 hours (18h in 265S).
- All satellites mode + permanent multiband: Up to 14 hours (15h in 265S)
- GPS-only mode with music: Up to 7 hours (7.5h on 265S)
- Auto-select mode with music: Up to 6.5 hours (7 in 265S)
- All satellites + multiband + music mode: Up to 6 hours (6 on 265S)
You can see that if you make use of all the functions the watch can become a power consumption machine. But that is no longer a matter of the AMOLED screen, without it also happens something very similar.
In short, is the technology currently ready for poder to have a sports watch with an AMOLED display? Absolutely. And not because AMOLED screens have changed over time, but because all the rest of technology has advanced in consumption and that poder we can dedicate to this type of screens, something that a matter of four or five years ago would be unfeasible.
Metrics in training and sport in the FR265
One of the differences compared to the Garmin Forerunner 255 is that, in the new "Morning Report" (released on the 255/955), the Forerunner 265 does have the Training Readiness metric.
After three weeks (and having a full baseline for heart rate variability) the number will appear as with the 955 to your right.
It is a metric that encompasses all those numbers that are appearing in the daily report and represents it in one easy-to-see number, in case you don't want to make decisions based on everything else.
It had been reserved for high-end models, yet it has also made its way to the FR265, possibly as part of the justification for the watch's price increase.
Regarding the morning report, it is a screen that appears every morning and informs us of data on how you are feeling with respect to your rest, training load, pulse variability during the night and a reminder of what training we have to do for the day.
This is the only thing that is different from the model from which it is based, the Forerunner 255. For example the workout suggestion, which now makes use of more data to offer recommendations (for example pulse variability).
New also was the ability to enter events in the race calendar in Garmin Connect, which allows us to not only see how much time is left for the race or estimated time to complete it based on our training, the most important part is that the workout suggestion will be focused on that goal. It's no longer about generic recommendations to keep you fit, it's a structured workout for that day.
It is a dynamic training plan, because it will take into account past training, recovery, training status and all other metrics.
The only thing that podrás not achieve with this generic plan is to look for a specific goal. That is, these workouts do not prepare you, for example, to get under 3 hours in a marathon.
And it is not adapted for triathlon either (even though the Forerunner 265 is a multisport watch). For the moment it will only take into account cycling or running competitions.
We also have pulse variability tracking. Which is something like what you see in the picture of the Forerunner 955.
I don't show you photo on the 265 because the watch needs at least 3 weeks to establish an average. The watch performs the measurement of heart rate variability 1TP7We can see in graphs how the evolution has been along with the average and maximum of the night.
For clarification, high variability is usually considered a sign of a rested and recovered state, while low variability denotes stress or fatigue.
The heart rate variability status averages all the records you have taken during the night, and compares it to the average of the previous three weeks.
As for the data itself, it is specific to each person so it makes no sense to compare it with that of your training partner, and even differs greatly throughout the year and our activity.
He also changed the Training Status with the 255/955, so evidently that is the display we also have available on the 265.
It is an extension on what the previous models already had, slightly changing the model and weighting more recent loads over what you have already done days ago.
The training load is the daily average for 7 days. Previously that high load was present for all those days and podía produce messages of being out of balance, whereas now that load is diluted as the days go by to give a truer picture of what you have accumulated.
To sum it all up, these are the metrics you can see in 265 and what you should be aware of with them:
- VFC statusThe average of pulse variability during the night, which helps to decipher the state of our body and the trend with respect to fatigue and rest. It is the nightly average compared to the previous three weeks.
- Training statusIt takes into account the trend of VO2Max, pulse variability and training load. It serves to put into perspective what we are doing with our last weeks of training.
- Acute training loadThe training load of the last 7 days, but diluting the more intense workouts with the passing of the days and recovery.
- Predisposition for trainingUsing all of the above metrics it represents it in a single figure which makes it easier to understand. And in addition to these it also takes into account recovery time, sleep and stress.
I think it's a good move by Garmin to include the training bias in the Forerunner 265, because it's the easiest way for any user to see in a very graphical way how they are doing that day for training.
Since it is fed by a multitude of data, just because one of them is not good, it will not lower the metric by much. For example you can have a high recovery time because you are in a week of loading; but you are resting well, your pulse variability is not affected, there is no stress... So despite having acute loading and high recovery time, you can still have a good training bias. Actually, it sounds quite logical and plausible.
GPS and optical HR sensor performance
In this section I will try to be brief, mainly because I don't expect to find things very different from what we already had in the Forerunner 255. It is the same clock, but with a different display, so if the results of the 255 were good (possibly the latest Garmin models are, at this time, the most reliable in terms of satellite performance) those of the FR265 must be on par.
The 265 is also multiband, and also has the automatic satellite selection mode, which is now already set by default (and is the one I have used for all tests).
And as I always like to clarify, as in the optical sensor tests that you will see below, the GPS comparisons are made in the same way: with the watches accompanying me in my usual workouts. Wearing both the Garmin Forerunner 265 and other models, and checking where the problems appear.
I do not have any defined path to establish a score for the simple reason that there are other external factors that we should never forget. Things like clouds, leaves on the trees or simply the position of the satellite can alter the GPS results from one day to the next.
This is why I prefer to make this type of comparison instead of having a predefined route and assess it from this one.
As for the optical sensor, you should keep in mind that a wrist heart rate monitor does not work the same way on every body. We are all different, and if we add into the equation things like skin tone, tattoos, body hair... the difference from person to person can be quite large.
In my tests it is not that the spectrum of users is very broad: it is me, myself and I. So what works well for me might not do it for someone else, or it might be better.
But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to follow some guidelines to wear the sensor. It should be tight (but not cut off your circulation), enough to keep the watch from moving freely on your wrist, leaving a separation of approximately one finger from the wrist bone. By following these details you will ensure that you get the best results that your conditions can offer.
All clear, isn't it? Well, let's go with two or three quick examples. The first one is this activation before a short and soft competition. In addition to the FR265 I wear a Garmin Forerunner 955 (same automatic configuration for the satellites) and a Suunto 9 Peak Pro.
In general, the result at first glance is really good, except for one part that we will see later. However there are other points in which if we zoom in we see differences between devices.
In this case, for example, the Suunto 9 Peak Pro has cut the curve a little and then continued slightly to the right of the real line. The 955, on the other hand, arrived there also a little displaced, although it makes the curve perfectly like the 265, and then separated again. At this point it is the 265 that is "right".
To be clear, this kind of errors do not worry me. They are not serious and do not change the pace or distance covered, because it has simply separated a couple of meters from the real track and has always continued in parallel.
However, at this point the Suunto 9 Peak Pro does have a small slip something more striking. It is not important but there we do have some extra meter (but it is not serious). The Garmin, on the other hand, make a perfect straight line here.
And a perfect track is what you can see below from the three of them, fully agreeing on the track and of course on the path followed.
All in all, an easy workout for me and for the watches.
And what about heart rate? Good performance of the optical pulse sensors, which outperform the pectoral pulse sensor in the first 8 minutes.
You know that in cold weather and until sweat begins to improve the transmission of electricity, the sensor in the chest suffers from these problems. Something that has not affected the optical sensors. But once I have already warmed up the three sensors match fully.
Let's go now to the race the next day, although for this occasion I only wear two watches.
This is the most urban area with buildings on both sides and always a conflictive point because of the signal bounce. There is a bit of separation on the 265 on the return path, but the truth is that I have seen much worse tracks at this point.
Intermediate point with many turns in which I have pointed out the errors with the arrows. As I said before, they are not serious errors, but they are errors that are there.
There are three curves that the Garmin FR265 has not finished correctly, placing me in the river or making the curve later than real. Places where the 955 has not had any problem. Although in the rightmost point, however, it was the 955 that went long.
But in the rest of the race, in simple conditions of full sky visibility and no buildings, no additional problems. This is the turning point, nailed to the millimeter by the two watches.
In terms of heart rate, high intensity from the beginning and no ups and downs. The recording was perfect, except in the three points mentioned above where the Garmin FR265 suffers some occasional peaks.
Let's go with a series training, changing the Suunto 9 Peak Pro for the Suunto 9 Peak Pro. COROS APEX Pro. A good example to see the real difference between the new chipsets and the previous generation, not that the APEX Pro had a bad performance, far from it.
Although I put APEX 2 in the screenshots, no, it is the COROS APEX Pro, when I renamed the file my neuron skidded).
But as soon as there are complicated situations to the COROS the seams are seen a little. It is to put some building in which poder bounce the signal and make strange things in the track, as to extend curves or to move laterally. Something that does not happen in the case of the Garmin, and possibly would not happen with the APEX 2.
And you can see how it repeats itself at certain points during the rest of the training. The APEX Pro having slight difficulties on some turns near buildings while the other two remain unperturbed with the graphs one on top of the other.
In fact, in this picture you can see that I made it all the way to the beach through a narrow corridor. Both the Forerunner 265 and Forerunner 955 nailed the track, while the COROS was slightly off.
And more of the same...
With respect to heart rate, we return to the problem noted above with the chest and cold sensors, they take a little while to start recording correctly. In this case the COROS also had a small initial slip of a minute, but it was because the strap was a little loose. As soon as I tightened it a little more, the problem was over.
During the intervals everything was perfect, with the usual slight delay of the optical sensors in both the rise and fall of heart rate, but nothing to note.
I don't want to close the section without putting something from the bike, if only to emphasize that everything here is as usual. Absolutely no problems with satellite reception, even in forested areas or next to mountains.
And reminding you that for cycling it is necessary to have a chest sensor, as the optical sensors integrated in the watches (different from the forearm ones, such as the Polar Verity Sense) are still not prepared to make good records when we ride a bike. If there are coincidences, it is pure chance.
I could go on adding more and more comparisons of other workouts, but honestly... there's no point. The Forerunner 265 results have been what I expected, very good throughout.
I believe that at the time of writing this review of the Garmin Forerunner 265, it is Garmin who is at the forefront in terms of best satellite reception performance. In addition, it does so with the option of automatic satellite selection, which allows you to leave this default setting and get the best both in autonomy and in track quality (and real distances and rhythms, most importantly).
Could the multiband mode eliminate small occasional bugs? Possibly 1TP7Could correct those little bugs that 1TP7We may have here and there, but in my opinion it is not worth the extra power consumption in exchange for what we gain, I think the automatic satellite selection mode works very well.
On the part of the Garmin Elevate 4 sensor there is not much to note that we have not already seen in the past. I haven't had any major glitches beyond the usual slowness in recording intervals, which is not a sign of a malfunction but a sign of how the technology works (in the end it's an estimate, and there has to be a trend change). I feel perfectly comfortable using this type of sensor on a run, although as with any optical sensor I prefer to use the chest strap when training on the bike.
And just so you can see that nothing has changed... this last paragraph I have podido copy, letter by letter, from the FR255 analysis. Identical operation, how could it pod be otherwise.
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Review Garmin Forerunner 265
The Garmin Forerunner 265 is not a revolution, as it is the same Garmin FR255 introduced last year but with a much better display. But it is the way forward and what many users were already demanding in 2023.
If the question was whether the technology is now ripe to replace the transflective display of a lifetime with an AMOLED display, the answer is a resounding YES. With minor quibbles, the user experience with AMOLED display is positive.
You have to be careful with the use of the screen to have a good autonomy (in this watch I recommend not to activate the always on screen mode), sometimes it forces to force the gesture to turn on the screen and there are situations -few- in which a transflective screen looks better.
But in return we get a much brighter screen, great for viewing anytime where there is no intense light (swimming without an AMOLED screen is not going to be the same), with more resolution and simply a better user experience.
Could I use the 265 as my watch? Without any doubt, even over the 955 Solar which is what I am using now. I would lose in maps (which honestly I hardly use) and above all in autonomy. But the truth is that I would not miss anything. Well, maybe ClimbPro, something that the 265 doesn't have. But otherwise it offers me everything I need and even more.
And with that... thanks for reading!
Garmin Forerunner 265
The Garmin Forerunner 265 represents what many of you expected from a sports watch in 2023: AMOLED display, good autonomy and all the features required for an endurance sports watch. And that's just what Garmin brings to the market.
Product SKU: 010-02810-10
Product Brand: Garmin
Product Currency: EUR
Product Price: 459
Price Valid Until: 2028-04-13
Product In-Stock: InStock