Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955 — which running watch is right for you?

a photo of the Garmin Forerunner 945 and the Garmin Forerunner 955
(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

So you’re looking for a new running watch, and you can’t decide between the Garmin Forerunner 945, and the shiny new Garmin Forerunner 955. Luckily, we’re here to help. Both are excellent running watches with plenty of high-end training features for runners and triathletes. Below, we take a look at the pros and cons of both watches to help you decide which is the best Garmin watch for you.

The Forerunner 955 is the updated version of the Forerunner 945, which was first released in April 2019. The Forerunner 955 was launched in June 2022, and will replace the Forerunner 945 as Garmin’s top-tier Forerunner running watch.  If you’re a complete beginner looking for a more basic running watch, check out the Garmin Forerunner 55, which is the best entry-level running watch on our list.

Want more options? We've also selected all the best running watches, the best running shoes, best running phone holders, and the best Nike running shoes to support you on your running journey. 

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955: Price and availability 

Both the Forerunner 945 and the Forerunner 955 are top-tier running watches, and all that tech comes at a price. As the Forerunner 945 is the older of the two watches, it’s likely to be discounted following the release of the Forerunner 955. When it was first released, the Forerunner 945 cost $599/£499, whereas, at the time of writing, the watch is available on Amazon for around $450/£420.

This isn’t all that much of a saving next to the Forerunner 955, which comes in two different versions — solar, and non-solar. Without solar, the Forerunner 955 costs $499/£479, which is $100 cheaper than the Forerunner 945 at full price. With solar, the Forerunner 955 costs $599/£529. 

Winner: Forerunner 955 — If you’re not overly worried about having a super-long battery life, the non-solar edition of the Forerunner 955 is identical to its solar counterpart in every single way, and isn’t that much more expensive than the older Forerunner 945. However, that equation could change if the Forerunner 945 drops below $400. It's also worth skimming through our Garmin coupon codes for any available offers to save you a little bit extra.

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955: Specs at a glance 

Despite looking pretty similar, there are some key upgrades on the newer model. Here we put them side by side to make things clearer:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Garmin Forerunner 955
Header Cell - Column 0 Garmin Forerunner 945Garmin Forerunner 955
Screen size1.2 inch1.3 inch
Resolution240 x 240 pixels260 x 260 pixels
Case size47 x 47 x 13.7 mm46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4mm
GPS battery life36 hours42 hours, 49 hours with solar
Smartwatch battery lifeUp to two weeks15 days, 20 days with solar
Music storageUp to 1000 songsUp to 2000 songs
Garmin PayYesYes

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955: Design and display

Side by side, the two watches look pretty similar — they both have five buttons, three on the left and two on the right that make it easy to navigate around the watch, and size-wise, the watches are pretty much the same. 

That said, when it comes to the display, there’s one key difference with the Forerunner 955, and that’s the addition of a touch screen. As we saw with the Fenix 7 and the Garmin Epix 2, the touch screen can be used as much, or as little, as you’d like, and it’s automatically switched off in most sports modes. 

Garmin Forerunner 945 GPS Watch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

With the solar version of the Forerunner 955, you’ll see a thin 4mm rim around the display that can catch the Sun’s rays. There’s also an invisible solar panel below the glass. This does seem pretty obvious at first glance, but you soon get used to it. 

A photo of the heart rate zones on the Garmin Forerunner 955

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

When it comes to the screens, the Forerunner 945 has a 1.2-inch, 240 x 240 transflective display. The Forerunner 955 has a slightly larger 1.3-inch, 260 x 260 resolution transflective screen, so you’re getting a bigger, better screen with the newer watch, although not by an awful lot. 

Another design feature that’s impressive with the Forerunner 955 is the ability to customize the entire watch from the Garmin Connect app on your phone. A handy feature Garmin rolled out with the Fenix 7, from your phone, you can configure just about anything on the watch, from data screens to menus. 

Winner: Garmin Forerunner 955 — even if you choose to turn it off on the run, the addition of the touchscreen makes the Forerunner 955 feel more premium, especially if you’re using it as a smartwatch.

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955: Battery life

Whether you go for the solar, or the non-solar version, if you’re looking for battery life, the Forerunner 955 is the watch worth investing in. The Forerunner 955 has up to 15 days of battery life in smartwatch mode, 20 days with solar, and up to 42 hours (49 with solar) in GPS mode. There’s also an UltraTrack mode, that will give you 80 hours of battery life, or up to 110 hours with solar. 

Garmin bases its solar estimations on “all-day wear with 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions.” For those who weren’t paying attention in science class, lux is the measure of light density. Generally speaking, 50,000 lux would be an overcast day, and 100,000 lux would be a sunny day, so if you’re out hiking in the sun for most of the day, you can expect the battery life of the Forerunner 955 Solar to last longer than estimated times given.

a photo of the menu on the Garmin Forerunner 955

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

That said, you’ll by no means be charging the Forerunner 945 every day. The watch has two weeks of battery life in smartwatch mode, 12 hours GPS battery life with music streaming, 10 hours with LTE LiveTrack and up to 35 hours in GPS mode.

During testing, both watches lasted over a week without needing a charge, and both are solid options for multi-day adventures. That said, if you’re really looking for a battery life to boast about, the Forerunner 955 Solar takes the top spot here.

Winner: Forerunner 955 Solar 

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955: Running and health tracking features 

Both Forerunners are excellent watches to have on your wrist for a serious training session. When it comes to sports tracking modes, both  are pretty much identical, although the Forerunner 955 has some additional profiles for tennis, pickleball and snowshoeing. 

Both watches offer daily suggested workouts, the ability to track steps, sleep, heart rate, blood oxygen, stress and your menstrual cycle, via a dedicated widget. Both watches have the same sensors across including Garmin's Elevate heart rate monitor, Pulse Ox sensor and the same satellite support. 

That said, the Forerunner 955 has the addition of multi-band support, which promises improved GPS accuracy. This features on the Forerunner 255, Fenix 7 series and the Epix watches, and does offer reliability quick GPS. 

Sleep stages on the Garmin Forerunner 955

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

The Forerunner 955 also has some additional health tracking features worth shouting about. Firstly, Garmin’s new Health Snapshot mode, that lets you take a two minute measurement to display your heart rate, stress, respiration data, blood oxygen levels and HRV in one place. There’s also Training Readiness, which looks at sleep quality, training load and recovery to give you an idea of how ready you are to take on a tough workout, Garmin’s new morning reports, and HRV status on the newer watch. We go into more detail about all these metrics in the Garmin Forerunner 955 review here. 

The newer watch also has a new race widget, which gives you a race day-specific performance prediction, race day weather, and a countdown clock, all in one place. There’s also the Stamina feature, which tells you how much energy you have left to give during the workout.

Winner: Garmin Forerunner 955 — if you’re looking for advanced training and health metrics, the Garmin Forerunner 955 has some impressive features under the hood. 

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955: Smartwatch features 

When it comes to smartwatch features, both watches are very similar. Both have Garmin Pay, smartphone notifications (although you cannot respond to iOS notifications from either watch), and the ability to store music on the watch (1,000 songs on the Forerunner 945, 2,000 on the Forerunner 955), allowing you to leave your phone at home and head out for a run. 

Garmin Forerunner 945 GPS Watch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The main difference between the two watches from a smartwatch perspective is the touchscreen on the Forerunner 955, which does make it easier to scroll through messages and notifications when they flash up on the watch. 

Winner: Forerunner 955 — this one is a close call, but the touchscreen and greater music-storage capacity inches the newer watch ahead here. 

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Forerunner 955: Verdict 

Whatever you’re training for, both watches will get you through the highs and lows of your training plan with accurate tracking and good recovery tools. They are both top-tier running watches from a trusted brand, and are well worth considering. 

That said, until the Forerunner 945 seriously drops in price, the Forerunner 955 is the best watch to invest in. If you’re looking for a running watch that’ll give you most of the features of the Garmin Fenix 7 in a smaller, cheaper package, as well as some brilliant new health tracking features, the newer Garmin is the watch for you.

If you’re on a budget, until the Garmin Forerunner 945 gets cheaper, it’s worth looking at the Garmin Forerunner 255, which was released at the same time as the Forerunner 955, and has a number of the same excellent features at a cheaper price point.    

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.