With the Forerunner 255, Garmin’s most recent running watch has been improved almost in every way, bringing multisport tracking, more sophisticated GPS, and a number of high-end features to a more reasonable price.
With the introduction of the 255, the venerable series is offered in two sizes for the first time: a smaller 41mm-wide case and a larger 46mm model, which should allow it to comfortably fit a wider range of runners’ wrists. But since it is taking the place of the reputable Forerunner 245 from 2019, it has enormous shoes to fill.
The RRP for both watch sizes is the same. The standard model costs £300 ($350/A$629), while the version that can store and play music to Bluetooth headphones from services like Spotify and others without a phone is £350 ($400/A$699).
The new timepiece is more streamlined than the Forerunner 245 and more resembles the Forerunner 745 from 2020. The sharper color transflective LCD display has a backlight for use at night and is incredibly clear in daylight. However, it lacks a touchscreen and instead relies on five buttons to navigate the interface, which is great for exercise even in bad weather.
Additionally, the watch is faster than its forerunner, which speeds up syncing and switching between data screens, activities, and watch faces. The watch is light enough to be worn all day and night for weeks without charging while also being thin enough to fit under shirt cuffs.
- 1.1 or 1.3-inch transflective MIP LCD screen
- 41 or 46mm case size
- 12.4 or 12.9 mm for the case thickness
- standard 18 or 22mm quick release bands
- 49 or 39 grams
- Space: 4 GB
- 50-metre water resistance (5ATM)
- GNSS (Multiband GPS, Glonass, Galileo, BeiDuo, QZSS), compass, thermometer, heart rate, and pulse sensors Ox
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ANT+ connectivity
The 255 can be used without a phone, but it functions best when Bluetooth-paired with an Android or iPhone. This enables data syncing to Garmin Connect and various smartwatch features like call and message notifications.
On models that support music, you can also sync wirelessly to the cloud or via USB cable to a PC or Mac.
Great battery life is provided. With notifications, general health tracking, including sleep, and more than three hours of activity tracking, the 46mm version lasts roughly 14 days as a smartwatch. That is two times as long as the Forerunner 245.
When in the most accurate location tracking mode, the watch can be worn for up to 16 hours of running or up to 7 hours while listening to music. If you switch to the more effective GPS-only mode, the tracking will continue for up to 30 hours. The smaller model has a marginally shorter lifespan, but depending on your speed, both models can handle one or even two marathons.
Although few mainstream banks are supported in the UK, the new watch supports Garmin Pay, which is helpful if you need to buy a drink or unexpectedly take the bus home while out for a run.
In most cases, the Forerunner 255 can be fixed. With frequent charge cycles, the battery is expected to last at least a few years while still holding at least 80% of its capacity. There are no recycled materials in the watch. Garmin promises security updates for at least two years after product release, but typically provides much longer support for its products. It complies with WEEE and other local electronics recycling laws and offers trade-in programs for some of its lines.
The 255 expands on the outstanding sport tracking functionality of its predecessor by incorporating many new features and functionalities taken from Garmin’s more expensive models. It includes a barometer, compass, and the company’s brand-new fourth-generation “multiband GPS.” By locking on to more recent GPS satellite frequencies, this improves tracking accuracy and dependability around tall structures or vegetation.
It is not overrun with gimmicks and has a ton of useful features. When running, the watch consistently achieves a GPS lock in a matter of seconds, which is much quicker than what it did with its predecessor. You can track or train using a variety of different methods, including heart rate zones and power, though you’ll need a compatible foot pod or chest strap for running power. It records practically every metric you can imagine (sold separately for a range of prices). The high-end Fenix 7’s stamina feature, which provides a helpful real-time estimate of how much energy your body has left during a run, is also included in this model.
The other significant improvement is multisport tracking, which was previously exclusive to Garmin’s top models and is useful for triathlons. It can combine more than 30 different activities into one seamless event while tracking more than 30 different activities, such as a variety of strength and cardio workouts, cycling, and swimming.
In order to help you perform at your peak on race day, Garmin has improved its free automated coaching system, which can now create a fully structured and adaptive training plan for races, including the buildup and tapering. Although it is currently only intended for running and not cycling or multisport, it is still very impressive because very few companies provide training plans that are this individualized, let alone one that changes as you progress.
Additionally, the 255 has a good selection of general health-tracking features. Garmin’s excellent body battery, which is fed by automatic sleep tracking, makes it simple to understand how sleep, activity, and rest affect your day.
It includes metrics like blood oxygen tracking, stress tracking, continuous heartbeat monitoring, standard calorie, step, and sedentary alerts, and more. A standard cardiac measurement, the Vo2 Max fitness test, and a tool for calculating your post-exercise recovery time are also included. It takes three weeks to calibrate overnight heart rate variability to your baseline, after which it can be used to highlight overtraining, stress, illness, and other factors.
With offline music playback, the Garmin Forerunner 255 is available in two sizes (41mm or 46mm) for £299.99 ($349.99/A$629) or £349.99 ($399.99/A$699).
The Forerunner 55 costs £149.99, the Instinct 2 £299.99, the Forerunner 955 £479.99, and the Fenix 7 £599.99 as a point of comparison. The Polar Vantage V2 costs £343.20 while the Coros Pace 2 costs £180.
The new Forerunner 255 amplifies all of the positive aspects of its excellent predecessor.
We appreciate the quicker interface, longer 14-day battery life, and choice of various sizes for a better fit. It is comfortable to wear and is thin and light. It handles basic smartwatch functions, checks almost all the boxes for general health tracking, and the top model supports offline music from Spotify and other sources.
The top-of-the-line Garmin Connect app makes it simple to sync with Strava and other well-known services. Additionally, almost every metric you can imagine is tracked by the watch, making it simple to see what is crucial for your training program.
With the addition of true multisport tracking for triathlons and other events, the next-generation GPS upgrade brings useful high-end features to a more affordable price. The new automatic race coach appears to be a very useful tool as well.
The only feature still reserved for more expensive models is in-car navigation with onboard maps for route guidance if you get lost.
Although it isn’t the most affordable option available, the Forerunner 255 is the best. This running and multisport Garmin should be at the top of your list if you don’t require offline maps and routing.
Pros: slim, light, physical buttons, clear screen, selection of sizes, multiband GPS, accurate heart rate, extensive stats, multisport, thorough health tracking, highly customisable, lengthy battery life, optional offline music, basic smartwatch features.
Cons: Expensive, lacks a touchscreen, has a less advanced screen than smartwatches, and doesn’t have offline maps.