It has been a few weeks since the Garmin Forerunner 955one of the most anticipated models in recent years. We were all eager to see what Garmin brought to the table in the top-of-the-line model of the Forerunner range.
The new version brings two models to the range. On the one hand the Garmin Forerunner 955, to which is added a Forerunner 955 Solar with, indeed, solar charging. First time we see solar charging on a Forerunner after its passage through the range Fenix, Enduro and Instinct (all of them from the Outdoor range).
Beyond solar charging, both models come with the same features, unlike the Fenix or Epix, where to enjoy dual band satellite you have to go to a more expensive version.
In terms of software, there is a new metric that will become important in all high-end Garmin models from now on: training bias. And incidentally the running power becomes official. Although there is a feeling that a version with LTE is missing. And some would also ask for another version with AMOLED.
I always like to remind you of the origin of the devices I test. In this case the Forerunner 955 Solar of the test I bought it in store, so it is not a temporary transfer from the manufacturer. And even if it were, I always remind you that there is no compensation of any kind from the brands about which I publish on the web, which gives me the freedom to poder detail you with the utmost frankness all the good (and sometimes bad) that can have any device.
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- ALL Garmin features available on this model
- Very good autonomy, especially in the Solar model.
- Incredible as it may seem in Garmin... the price!
External accessory required to enjoy the power during the race
- Does not natively support third-party stroke potentiometers (such as Stryd).
Models available in the Forerunner 955 range
Unlike the family Fenix 7In the Garmin Forerunner 955 there are only two models:
- Garmin Forerunner 955
- Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
There are no differences in size or other features, simply in the solar glass of the second model. It is important to point this out because it is something that does happen in both the Fenix 7 and EpixIf you want to have dual-band satellite or more memory, you have to opt for the sapphire version.
This greatly simplifies the choice of model and you simply have to decide if you want solar charging to enjoy some more autonomy. In fact, even in both cases the same colors are offered.
News Garmin Forerunner 955
Let's get straight to the point, here are all the new features that pod can find in the new Garmin FR955:
- Two versions available: Garmin FR955 and Garmin FR955 Solar
- Touch screen in both versions. The five control buttons are maintained. The touch screen can be activated or deactivated in menu, activities, etc.
- 46.5mm in diameter (47mm for the 945, 44.4mm for the 945 LTE) and 53 grams of weight for the solar -52gr for the normal-.
- Larger 1.3″ screen
- Garmin Elevate V4 Optical Pulse Sensor, which was released with the Garmin Venu 2
- Multiband (dual-band) system on all versions
- Up to 42 hours with GPS use, or 49 hours on the Solar version (36 hours on the 945)
- Morning report indicating readiness to train based on quality of rest, training load and pulse variability
- Pulse variability monitoring (HRV or HRV)
- Heart rate variability (HRV) is used as an additional piece of data when displaying training status to try to be more accurate.
- Training bias metrics based on pulse variability, load, rest, etc.
- New acute load metric
- Training status screen with more values: VO2Max, HRV and load status for the last 7 days (ATL or fatigue in TrainingPeaks).
- New watch face that allows you to switch between different values to be displayed such as VO2Max, heart rate, etc.
- New race widget with days to test, weather at that location and more details based on your history
- Running power estimation with external accessory (HRM-Pro/HRM-Run/HRM-Tri sensor or Running Dynamics Pod)
- Power training zones
- Stamina function, an algorithm that allows you to manage your effort during a full ride by indicating your remaining energy. Very similar to what Xert.
- Possibility to change settings from the watch or, finally, also from the mobile application
- HIIT profile for recording activity, with animated workouts and instructions. It was released with the Garmin Venu 2
- TopoActive maps of Europe and possibility of downloading worldwide via WiFi
- POI navigation screen showing the remaining distance to the points of interest you have marked on your route
- Direct access from the watch to the Connect IQ store to update items via WiFi
- 32GB memory capacity
- Available in black or white
On this occasion, as the FR955 is a later model than the Fenix 7, it includes new features that were not present in the Fenix. Especially the predisposition function for training and all its metrics that have to do with pulse variability (for which I have prepared a specific section), but also the power estimation in running.
If you are a Fenix 7 user, you don't have to worry, because these new features will also reach your watch via software update.
Quick look at the main new features of the Garmin Forerunner 955
Before I move on to the specific and newest features of the FR955 I want to give you a quick review of some of the new features over the Forerunner 945 and what they represent. I'll try to keep it brief so as not to make it too long.
The touchscreen has been present in Garmin for some time, but until this generation of models it was exclusive to "smart" watches. Personally I am not a big fan of touchscreens in sports watches, but if you simply add the possibility and keep the buttons, I have no objection to it. Moreover, in this case there are occasions when having the touch screen is very much appreciated (as in the use of maps).
As for the buttons, the usual Garmin layout is maintained. We have three on the left side and two on the right. They have a correct touch, improving the "rubbery" buttons of the 945.
But here the important thing is the touch screen. And as I was saying, having this possibility when we are navigating or using the maps is a great advance. We can move around the map by simply sliding our finger on the screen, which is much faster than doing it with the buttons (up/down, left/right). Those buttons can be used simply for zooming and nothing else.
We also have full control over the touch screen. It is possible to activate or deactivate the display depending on the sport profile or directly in the menu.
Configuration from the phone
Another thing that is already coming to all new Garmin models is the configuration of sport profiles and settings from the app on your cell phone. This is in addition to the configuration directly from the watch (which is still present) and allows you to change almost all watch settings, including data displays.
In addition, all changes are immediate, so there is no need to make a synchronization that takes too long to see how the chosen data screen looks like. This is what you will be most grateful for because podrás do it at cell phone speed and not going in and out of different menus.
Some things cannot yet be done from the application, such as adding or modifying sensors. But I expect that this will be available sooner rather than later.
Autonomy and solar charging
For the first time solar charging is coming to a Forerunner series watch. Previously exclusive to the Outdoor series with the Fenix and Instinct, solar charging glass is spreading across the rest of the range.
Obviously this part is unique to the Forerunner 955 Solar, as it is the only one with a solar charging panel.
In this generation of watches solar charging is more noticeable than in the past. First of all because the charging panel is larger, and obviously the larger it is the better use of the sun.
In addition, as the watch has a longer autonomy, it can stay on longer between charges. As a result, it will also spend more time in the sunlight and use more of its energy.
The technology that Garmin uses is called Power Glass. The watch crystal is able to transform sunlight into energy. There is a ring on the outside of the display that will absorb 100% of the light received. It is similar to the photoelectric cells in a calculator.
This is not the only area that takes advantage of solar energy. Underneath the screen there is another solar panel that logically receives less light (because it is covered by the screen), but its size is much larger. This panel only transforms 10% of the energy, but as its size is much larger than the small external ring, the contribution it makes is also important.
In any case, what does solar charging add to the autonomy of the watch? In the following box 1TP7 you can see the difference between the normal model and the Solar model, always bearing in mind that the increase in autonomy of the Solar is set for 3 hours a day of sunlight, so it can be more or less.
- GPS use only: 42 hours in normal version, 49 hours with solar charging
- All satellite systems + multi-band: 20 hours normal version, 22 hours with solar charging
- All satellite systems + multiband + music: 8.5 hours
- GPS expedition mode: 80 hours normal version, 110 hours with solar charging
- Smartwatch mode: 15 days, or 20 days with solar charge
The benefits of solar charging will be greater in summer (more daylight hours, higher solar radiation) than in winter.
The FR955 receives the Stamina function that debuted with the Fenix 7. This is the latest innovation from Firstbeat and allows the watch to visually show us an estimate of the remaining "battery" left in our body while we are training.
Available for running or cycling profiles, it allows you to know the energy available to reach the finish line or complete the training depending on the intensity of the exercise that will be measured through the pulse sensor (integrated or external via Bluetooth or ANT+).
Garmin differentiates between actual stamina and potential stamina. The first data refers to energy remaining in the short term, at that precise moment. This is the one that appears at the top and is of greater importance.
In the central part of the screen we have the potential stamina, which represents the remaining energy in the long term.
Actual stamina can drop dramatically if we do intervals or sprints, and will rise again when recovering. Meanwhile, potential stamina will drop gradually as the training progresses.
The stamina data does not always start at 100%, it is linked to past efforts and the recovery you have had. For example, I have made transitions from cycling to running and, when I started to run, the Stamina that marked was the same that I had left after getting off the bike.
In the options of this screen it allows us to set the main data with percentage as we have seen so far, but also as a function of distance or time. This is useful if you are looking to complete a certain distance or want to know how long you are going to poder endure at the current pace.
The Stamina bar can appear in red or green. When it appears in red it indicates that we are consuming energy at a faster rate than expected according to the potential (by increasing the rate), and if it is in green it means that we are recovering. This is also accompanied by up or down arrows.
This metric has two possible uses. Firstly in a steady pace race where you can see how "your autonomy" is decreasing and see if the pace you are running will be enough to complete the training or competition you are doing.
Graphically it will be represented as a straight line and the real stamina will always coincide with the potential stamina, because there are no punctual efforts. For example this soft training.
And if we compare it with a purely series training 1TP11We can see how the potential stamina is gradually decreasing, while the real stamina starts to stick to the potential but as soon as the intervals start I start digging the hole.
Is the metric accurate and pod would say that when the stamina potential reaches 0% we will be finished? Well, it depends, because there is also a lot of psychological aspect. I have managed to get the metric to 0% on several occasions, and not always the actual feeling matches what the watch shows.
For example here I have a bike ride with intervals, 4 and a half hours long. Yes, when I got to the end I was chopped, but also because I knew that it was the end of the training and I was already podía go home.
But as you can see the 0% I reached it a while before finishing, and I still had energy to keep pedaling, even if it was at low power. But if we were talking about a competition I would have had no problem to put some gas in the body and continue in the fight.
I simply have to go to my career activity file at Ironman Austria. According to the watch I arrive at the marathon with a remaining Stamina of 21% after the 3800m swim and 180km bike ride. Apparently correct.
But if we compare the metric with respect to heart rate during the marathon, you can see that from the moment it reaches 0 my performance continues to be more or less solid (the drops in HR correspond to the refreshment posts).
I felt energetic until about mile 26, where my performance started to drop off as you can clearly see on the graph. Quite a bit later than the stamina graph suggests.
It can be an interesting metric for long training days and try to overcome the mental barrier that we often put ourselves. That feeling of wanting to finish as soon as possible due to lack of energy and that the clock tells you that you still have 30% of energy left, may serve to lift your spirits and endure the training knowing that your blockage is mental and not physical.
Maps, navigation and map manager
It is not new to find maps in the top of the range of the Forerunner series, the FR945 already included them. But the new model has a few improvements. Starting with the available maps, as previously only the map of the region where you bought the watch was available. Now 1TP7We can download additional maps thanks to the new Map Manager.
Unlike the Fenix 7, both the regular and Solar versions have 32GB of total memory, so if you opt for the cheaper version you will also have plenty of space.
The watch will download the maps via WiFi connection. It must be charging and it is best to do it at night as the wireless download takes a long time.
If you don't feel like leaving the watch idle for so long and you have access to a computer, you can do it by cable with the Garmin Express application. As it is a USB connection the procedure is much faster.
One of the interesting features in terms of route navigation that was introduced with the Fenix 7 (and is also in this 955) is "Up Ahead". It allows you to create custom POIs (Point Of Interest or POI) in icon and location, so that you can see it while you are navigating the route.
By adding these points of interest, when we load a route we will have an additional page where we can see the list of points and the remaining distance to reach them.
In short, the same navigation functions as the Fenix 7.
Connect IQ store on the watch
The app store has also moved to the watch, although it is still in its infancy. It is located within the menu as if it were another sport profile.
At the moment it is very basic. It is not the app store that we access from the phone in which 1TP7We can search for anything, it will simply show us some recommended applications. In my case right now only Deezer, Amazon Music, AccuWeather and Strava Relative Effort.
If I want to do anything else or even view information about them I must access through the mobile application.
Running and walking detection is also present, which can be useful for series training days or if you are doing CaCos. Garmin Connect will show you the time you have spent running, walking and also standing still.
Obviously this will show if you do not stop the activity when you pause, if you do that does not compute.
We don't just have the total numbers, we also 1TP11Have a graph in which we have the same data overlaid with other different data, for example rate.
At first glance you may think that it is not useful for much, but as it allows us to superimpose other data it opens the door to analyze certain behaviors. For example, after finishing the last 400m interval, instead of standing, I chose to sit down (not because I was exhausted, it was just science, don't get the wrong idea).
You can see from the heart rate graph that this allowed me to lower my heart rate quite a bit more than when I was walking. Depending on what the goal of the session is, that detail can help you make decisions about how to approach the breaks.
That's for the asphalt runners. For trail 1TP11It could be useful to analyze a route that you have run twice and see if it is better to walk certain climbs and run faster afterwards, or to run the climb and not have to accelerate the pace so much in less steep areas.
Since you have all the data at the end of the activity, this allows you to fully analyze the different phases of the training.
Garmin finally adds running power estimation to its watches. Incorporated for the first time in both this FR955 and also in the Garmin Forerunner 255, the support it offers is somewhat limited with respect to what pod We can see in the competition.
I think that, after waiting for so long, Garmin has not done a good job with respect to running power. Unlike Polar or COROS, in the case of Garmin it is necessary to use an external sensor for poder to obtain this data, and it is not obtained simply from the wrist. Specifically one of these Garmin sensors:
- HRM-Run pulse sensor
- HRM-Tri pulse sensor
- HRM-Pro pulse sensor
- Sensor Running Dynamics Pod
In case you wear one of these sensors while running then you will have access to power estimation, which includes displaying it in real time and recording it in the activity file, as well as poder set up advanced workouts with power target (in addition to the usual pace or heart rate). We can also poder define specific power zones for racing.
If we go back a few years, we already talked about a Connect IQ application called Garmin Running Powerwhich Garmin launched in beta version and about which there have been no major changes. Garmin has simply added that application natively to the watch. If you have used it in the past you know what to expect when using it now, the only thing that being natively integrated allows you to use the power for phased workouts.
To continue to dig deeper, Garmin does not allow to natively display data from any other external sensor such as Stryd. They say this is because Stryd doesn't use the appropriate standard, but that hasn't stopped Suunto, Polar, Wahoo or COROS from doing so (i.e. all the others).
If you want to use Stryd, you will have to continue to do so through its various applications but without access to the advantages of native integration.
These are the data fields that podemos select in the screen configuration:
- Power indicator
- Average power
- Return power
- Last lap power
- Maximum power
- Power zone
If we compare it with the options we have in cycling, there are much less options. In this gallery you can see first of all the options for running, the following images correspond to the cycling profile.
Obviously there are no cycling dynamics fields or similar, but some parity with interesting metrics such as %FTP, time in zones, intensity factor, 3s or 10s averages, etc. would be appreciated.
So it can be considered a "half-baked" integration. I would love it to natively support Stryd for poder to use it just like on watches from other brands. That would allow for power workouts natively without having to be downloading Connect IQ apps. Maybe we'll see it in the future because Garmin hasn't closed the door, but for now that's what we have.
Finally you will have the most important question... Are Garmin power data reliable? Well, they are as reliable as power data from any other brand. There is no fixed standard and in all cases it is an algorithm based on different parameters. It is not possible to compare power data between devices of different brands, but it is possible to compare them with each other.
But about all that I already talked in the past. If you are interested in race power estimation. I have several items (and YouTube videos) about it.
Willingness to train and related metrics
More than a function in itself, it is a summary where the watch takes different metrics that it is able to collect, and goes a step further than what Garmin offered so far in terms of the summary of status and training load, which sometimes did not offer a real picture - and above all clear - of what poder do during the day.
The data I used before are now joined by new metrics related to sleep and rest, as well as expanding some others. In any case I will show you the different screens that the watch shows you and I will explain.
Every morning after waking up the clock greets us with this screen. The screen will be there until you review the information or discard it.
Displays information about the current temperature, weather forecast and time and date. If we scroll down it asks if we want to see the day's report already. Obviously yes.
And the first thing it will indicate is the predisposition to train. In my case today it is low, with a 33 on the scale of 100.
We can keep scrolling down or click on that screen to see the reasons for the low predisposition, the limiting factors of performance.
Specifically it says I won't perform too well today because sleep has been regular, pulse variability is unbalanced (indicating poor rest) and I have a high acute training load (more on that later).
Of course 1TP7We can go into each of these metrics to see more details. For example to know why the sleep is only "Acceptable" and it is because the score is 63 for having slept for a short time.
With all this in mind, the watch will make a recommendation of what training to do during the day.
Here's where the interesting stuff starts. These are the recommended daily workouts we had so far, based on all those metrics and our training history. It gives recommendations according to the type of training we've been doing the last few weeks. Generic recommendations and without any specific target. Or if we add a race, with respect to that particular event. But I'll talk about that later.
The next metric that appears is the pulse variability status. It is shown as somewhat unbalanced when compared to the average of the last three weeks.
The watch measures the pulse variability during the whole night and 1TP7We can see in a graph how it has evolved together with the average and maximum of the night. For clarification, a high variability is usually considered as a sign of a rested and recovered state, while a low variability denotes stress or fatigue.
And ending with the report, it ends with the weather forecast for the day along with current temperature and says goodbye with a message that summarizes a bit of everything that 1TP7We can expect for the day.
A curiosity? The display changes on the day of your birthday, congratulating you on the day.
This is the summary of the day, based on a bunch of metrics and an indication of how you can target the workouts you are going to do. It is not limiting, but it can give you an idea of what your performance is going to be like. If your willingness to train is low it doesn't mean that you shouldn't train, just that if you were planning to do very intense sets it might be a better idea to change the plan and do a slightly lighter run.
Everything is based on many metrics, but thanks to a metric like training bias that encompasses everything, it is much easier to reference and see what the evolution is over time. Here heart rate variability (HRV) status plays a very important role.
As I said before, the HRV status takes into account the pulse variability throughout the night, and compares the data with the average of the previous three weeks. It is for this reason that you will have to wait a long time after purchasing the watch to see this complete information.
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.
To give an example, in the last few weeks my pulse variability has been quite affected by a move, renovations, changes... The weeks prior to the Ironman Austria variability was much higher, even though I was training much more than I do now.
The reason? I had a much more structured day and everything under control, so despite a much higher training load than now the body was not as punished. The Garmin Connect graph clearly shows all these details.
As the race approaches and I'm tapering, the VFC status is increasing. Rest, easier workouts and lots of rest after that. I get to July 3 (Ironman date) with max 72ms average overnight.
After that peak HRV starts to reflect the impact on the body of a race like an Ironman, starting to drop not only because of the race but also because of traveling during the following week (even though it is a vacation).
We move forward a little more in those weeks and we get to July 15, date on which I start the move ... from there downhill without brakes for the next few weeks with a really important impact on the body. And it only begins to recover slightly when I put a little order in life (and I also get back to workouts).
Are the variability data reliable, and would they be the same as if we were doing it with a medically certified instrument? Well, I don't know because I don't have easy access to any, but you can see that I can perfectly explain all the changes over the last few weeks. And seeing it in that perspective helps you make decisions about how your life is working and what decisions you need to make about your training.
Continuing with more metrics that have changed we have the training status, now more complete.
It's old hat, but now it's showing more metrics to help decipher why it's giving messages. In my case it's saying that I'm in danger of overtraining right now, which is partly true.
My VO2Max is dropping, logical because I took a break from training after the Ironman. My pulse variability is unbalanced because of what I just commented; and my acute load is high because until a week ago it was practically non-existent. Knowing where I'm coming from and why I know there's no danger of injury, but it's something to keep in mind.
You may have noticed that I talked about "acute training load". It's a slight change from how I used to take it into account, diluting the high loads over time. That is, if today you do a heavy series training you know that tomorrow you will be quite fatigued, but in 5 days the body will have recovered.
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 new metrics and what you should be aware of with them:
- Predisposition for trainingTraining intensity: This is the metric that brings together the sum of all the others and will help you decide whether or not to train, and the intensity of training. It takes into account rest, recovery time, pulse variability, training load and past training.
- 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.
Ufff, so much for this section, which I hope has not been too dense or technical. It is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of the new Garmin model (which will also be present in the Fenix 7, Epix, Enduro 2 and high-end models to come later), and continues the path that others had started before such as Polar.
It's about using all the algorithms and presenting them in a way that is easy for the user to understand. You can focus only on the training bias data and make decisions from there, or you can dig into each and every metric to know all the details and the reasons why that result. And in that sense I think Garmin has done a remarkable job, with a metric that certainly helps to understand a lot of things.
The racing calendar is linked to some extent with the previous section, but I have preferred to separate it because it was getting too dense and talking about the calendar is relatively easy and quick.
The watch has a new widget in which poder enter the races in which we will compete later. We do this through Garmin Connect, entering the data in the calendar in which we indicate whether it is running or cycling. From that moment poder we will see on the clock how much time is left until the celebration of the race.
As additional information it indicates the estimated time with respect to our current VO2Max status and the historical temperature at the time of departure.
But much more important than all this is that, after entering the race, it will change all the daily training recommendations. The watch will no longer make generic training recommendations, but will prepare a plan for that goal.
And since the daily workouts take into account past training, recovery, training status and other metrics we have seen above, it is a fully dynamic training plan based on your actual condition. Of course, that training plan will not be focused on any particular goal (e.g. running a marathon under 3 hours).
Although there is a small major drawback, and that is that it only supports cycling or running competitions. But not triathlon. And being a high-end triathlon watch seems a major omission. In the calendar only podemos add running or cycling events, and it is what will take into account for details of the day of the test as estimated time of completion, weather for that day, etc..
But if what you have is a triathlon not even 1TP7After adding the race to the calendar, unless you enter for example the bike. At least you will have the remaining days in the widget and the temperature estimation, but you won't get the training recommendation.
Unlike other Garmin models in which having the dual-frequency multiband chipset requires making an economic effort to buy the superior version, this is not the case with the Garmin Forerrunner 955. We are not obliged to buy the more expensive version (in this case the one with solar charging) to poder enjoy all the benefits of the multiband GNSS chipset.
It was certainly a move on the part of Garmin that I found quite remarkable as it is a departure from what they have been doing lately. But it is something that makes the FR955 an even more interesting model.
But before I go into the details of how it works, I want to clarify all the technical aspects. Basically this is what I have been writing about since the presentation of the VERTIX 2 from COROS, but it is time to comment again.
Satellites transmit data at different frequencies, something like your home router. As with your Wi-Fi router, using different frequencies we can benefit in speed or distance. It's a mere example and they are two things that have nothing in common, but I hope you get the idea with that.
Dual-frequency systems allow for improved positioning in places with difficult reception such as forests, cities where the signal bounces off buildings, etc. By receiving information from more than one radio signal from each satellite, the device can differentiate between real signal and bounced signal.
- GPS disabled
- GPS only
- All systems: the watch will prioritize between GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/BeiDou/QZSS depending on which one offers the best performance at the time).
- All systems plus multi-band: as above but using L1 and L5 frequencies (only on models with sapphire crystal)
- UltraTrac: Very low power mode reducing the GPS update rate every few seconds. Only necessary for expeditions or multi-day adventures.
And coming soon will be the SatIQ mode "officially" introduced with the Garmin Enduro 2, but which has long been in the various beta versions of other devices. This new mode will allow the watch to dynamically alternate satellite settings, increasing accuracy by using the multiband system when running through a dense forest, or prioritizing autonomy when there are no signal reception problems.
The satellite modes can be configured globally or according to each profile. It is quite useful because it allows to have a race profile on asphalt with only GPS if we run in areas with good coverage, and leave the trail profile with multiband if we are going to be in areas of greater complication.
What you should keep in mind is that the use of the dual band will have a noticeable impact on the battery, almost double. Without going into all the different options and their autonomies, tell you that the autonomy of the 955 can be 42 hours of activity or only 20, depending on whether you only use GPS or the option of all systems plus multiband (more hours in the case of the 955 Solar). So use the modes wisely.
A final note with regard to the dual-frequency. Just because accuracy can increase significantly doesn't mean that we're going to have absolutely perfect tracks under any circumstances. Obviously, there will still be specific errors.
GPS and optical HR sensor performance
Having clarified the whole issue of the dual band (and if there is something you have not understood, you have the comments to clarify doubts), it's time to go to the performance comparisons. As with the optical sensor tests that you will see later, the GPS comparisons are done in the same way: with the watches accompanying me in my usual workouts. Wearing both the Garmin Forerunner 955 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.
After the "disclaimer" that I do in all my reviews, let's go to the tests themselves. I will try to be brief and concise because this section is always a bit tedious both for you to read it and for me to write it.
In all GPS tests the satellite configuration of the Garmin FR955 is "All systems", but without using multiband. Mainly because at the moment I don't have any other model with dual band system, so my interest is to match the comparison.
If you want to see comparisons between multi-band and normal satellite, you can see them in the analysis of the Garmin Epix (same chipset as this 955).
In this area I make round trip on the same route, with quite steep turns. Except for a small moment where the Polar Pacer Pro has some doubts the three watches behave perfectly.
Something similar happens in this case. At the top of the track you can see that I run under the building of El Corte Ingles, which hinders the signal reception. The Polar has again some small doubt but in general the response of all is good.
In this turn below we can see a small error of the Garmin FR955. Before reaching the point of return it deviates slightly from the real layout, but without too much importance because it is a straight line. Then both models of Garmin perform the curves perfectly, while the Polar again moves a few meters (which also will not affect rhythms or distances).
As for pulse sensor for this workout, it's a simple test because it's a gentle run. I still like to start there to see if there is anything different between watches. In this case both the FR955 and Pacer Pro fully match the Polar H10 sensor paired with the 745.
Let's go with another workout on practically the same route, changing day and type of workout. This time a 4×15′. For this test the Polar Pacer Pro is replaced by the Polar Pacer Pro. COROS APEX Pro. Let us first look at the graph of the optical sensor.
Here there are errors, but not on the part of the sensors you think. In this case the one that has had a very erratic performance has been the Polar H10, especially in the second and fourth block where the recorded data have been frankly bad.
The optical sensors worked perfectly, except for the break from the second to the third block (indicated by the arrow).
This is a good example of situations where, although we always consider the chest sensor far superior to the optical sensor, perhaps we should not consider it so lightly....
With respect to the GPS, again little to note.
This area that I circle is always tricky for all clocks. It is a somewhat narrower street with buildings on both sides that make signal reception quite difficult. In fact it is common to see strange things in the race pace.
On this occasion the errors on the part of the three watches are minimal, so they all pass on a good note. The only one that has had a slight deviation when reaching that point is the COROS APEX Pro, with a deviation of a few meters.
That is also repeated at the pivot point. But the rest of the training, quite boring.
Boring is the general tone in terms of the trainings I have been reviewing. Not because I've been bored doing them, but because there aren't too many things to highlight.
Fancy some cycling? Well, let's go to it, not from the point of view of satellite signal (that due to the speed and to do it on open road is very rare that you can appreciate some error), but of heart rate values. The normal result is that the result is quite bad, requiring almost mandatory to have an external pulse sensor.
So let's go with a 5 hour bike workout. I only wore two sensors, the one on the Forerunner 955 Solar and a Garmin HRM-Pro paired with the Edge 830.
This training was performed at constant intensity (blocks of about 250-260W), which is where the optical pulse sensor works best.
And I must say that the result is quite good, practically perfect during almost all the training. Slight differences here or there, but considering that it is 5 hours the result is VERY good.
Of course, there are several things to keep in mind. The first I have already said, all the training is with intensity, nothing to go for a walk. The second important detail is that it is coupled with the time trial bike, so the vibrations of the road do not go directly to the wrist but are damped by elbows and forearms, taking the wrist practically fixed during all that time.
So to see the real result of a more traditional bike ride, here's a ride where I go softer.
You can see how during the period of constant intensity the optical sensors work well, but as soon as there is more relaxation and rapid variability of the intensity, the graphs begin to separate. This is the usual behavior in cycling.
Finally I want to add this swimming session, with the multiband configuration in this case. This is the swimming of the Ironman Austria.
There is only the 955 track, but the truth is that I don't need any other to tell you that it is the right one. It is simply perfect. I've never had such a clean track for swimming. For comparison, here is the design of the buoys.
And the most striking part, the 1,000m of channel. It is an area that would already have some difficulty if we were running, for being constantly under trees. If we add to that the swimming factor (remember, every time the watch enters the water it loses satellite signal), it becomes one of the most difficult conditions that podemos find in swimming.
However, here you have that area enlarged.
Yes, it is true that the track is filtered and there are points every several meters, but at no time does it leave the channel. And the swimming exit turn is also perfectly marked. Really, I had never seen this precision in swimming, practically 10.
As for satellites, with the 955 I'm seeing the best tracks I've seen to date in GPS watches. And that's just by activating the all systems option and without having to resort to multiband, reserved for more complicated situations.
I can say the same about the optical pulse sensor, which has given me solid results in all training sessions, even in cycling (with the caveats already indicated, do not expect a similar result in a mountain route). Very reliable in running workouts both at constant pace and with varying intensity.
Both satellite and heart rate may have moments of "weakness", because neither are precision instruments, but I am very satisfied with the performance offered at all times in both aspects.
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Review Garmin Forerunner 955
I sincerely believe that the Garmin Forerunner 955 is their best watch to date. It is not the most expensive (it is far from it), nor the one with the most "options" (for example no AMOLED screen), but it is certainly the best in quality/performance/price ratio.
I have been years in which in the reviews I always criticize as a negative point its price, indicating that it is expensive. That has changed with this model, and not only do I not think it is expensive, but compared to the rest of the range (and the competition) I think it is a cheap watch.
Already podemos find some offers that are around 500 €. That money gives us a watch with maps, touch screen, 32GB of memory, multiband satellite reception, wireless payments, music playback and synchronization with Spotify, all the advanced metrics of Garmin and FirstBeat... and for a little more also solar charging.
If we make the comparison with respect to the Fenix 7 makes them pale in price. While in the Fenix we have to go to the premium version (paying an extra) to have more memory or the multiband chipset, this is present in the basic version of the 955. Of course, the same pod we can say about the FR255, which does almost the same and is 350€ for its basic version.
In terms of performance I have not had any problems in all the weeks of use, finalizing the preparation for the Ironman and in the race itself. It has always been reliable and I have had no problems with autonomy with Stryd as is being reported on the Garmin forums (mainly because with the move I still have yet to know where I have put it...).
I find the training bias metric quite useful, giving a pretty good overall idea of what 1TP7We have or should do. It allows you to see it easily with a simple number, or delve into each of the details for more insight. It is far from being medically certified information, but it is quite useful for training purposes.
I would only ask for a redesign of the Garmin application. It's been years that they keep adding more and more features, and the application is already asking for a reorganization and simplification of functions.
All in all, a very good watch for a very good price. thanks for reading!