Garmin Forerunner 265 review

The discharge of the Forerunner 265 marks a pivotal level in Garmin’s AMOLED overhaul.

A design luxurious that was as soon as reserved for its Venu smartwatches and extra premium sports watches – the Fenix, Epix and Marq – is now current on a strong running watch at a comparatively accessible value level. 

On paper, Garmin has delivered a watch with out compromises; supplying you with all of the very good coaching options you’d sometimes affiliate with the Forerunner line with out being tied to a memory-in-pixel show. 

And, as we have discovered by placing it by the wringer over the previous couple of weeks, the concept the Forerunner 265 strikes the proper steadiness between hardcore coaching and aesthetics largely holds out in real-world use. 

It is not with out fault, and it is also not a watch that we expect will swimsuit each runner or multi-sport athlete, however the Forerunner 265 is the true deal. Let’s dig into why.

Value and competitors

Wareablegarmin forerunner 265 price and competitionThe cheaper Forerunner 255 (left) remains to be a viable possibility to think about

By no means earlier than has there been such a brief hole between generations, with this new mannequin arriving solely 10 months after the Forerunner 255.

With the important thing adjustments being within the design division, too, it means you are basically paying a $100 / £120 premium for music help and the brand new AMOLED show.

Test value: Buy Garmin Forerunner 265

We expect that is truly a reasonably whole lot – particularly at a time when each model is climbing costs. And it is a good contact that Garmin continues to cost the identical value for the usual, 46mm variant of the FR265 and the 41mm ‘S’ version – not one thing we see from Apple, for instance.

Should you’re not concerned with offline music playback and also you’re extra old-school in your show expectations, although, the $349 / £299 Forerunner 255/255S remains to be an outstanding possibility. 

In reality, even in the event you particularly want the music options however nonetheless do not care in regards to the show sufficient to leap to the FR265, Garmin has the Forerunner 255/255S Music obtainable for $399 / £349. It means there are many choices right here on this mid-range pocket – and that is simply once you zero in on this particular space of Garmin’s Forerunner watches. 

If you wish to add choices from different manufacturers to your wishlist, we now have a few suggestions.

In order for you one thing that is a extra highly effective smartwatch and might nonetheless maintain its personal when monitoring exercises, and also you’re an iOS consumer, the Apple Watch Series 7 or Series 8 are nice picks. 

And for many who need a extra real working watch rival, we would advocate trying on the Coros Pace 2

Design and show

Wareablegarmin forerunner 265 always on splitThe always-on show is turned off by default, however this is a side-by-side comparability

An important change between generations can be essentially the most noticeable. Garmin drops the memory-in-pixel (MIP) show right here for the extra vibrant, crisp and colourful AMOLED – the identical that options on the pricier and also-new Forerunner 965, too.

We have been testing it out on the usual 46mm FR265, however we must always notice that the decision specs are similar on the 41mm mannequin. And, as we have discovered with Garmin’s different AMOLED watches, it is an enormous distinction maker. 

Whereas a MIP show can typically look fairly brutalist and really feel designed purely for operate, the brand new AMOLED show provides some much-needed jazziness to the expertise. 

It makes all the things really feel far more fashionable and premium – as does the transfer to a touchscreen show.

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 case buttons

It is not simply in regards to the new show being prettier, both – the redesigned consumer interface that Garmin is ready to make use of right here is way smoother and faster.

It is arguably simply as essential because the show itself, we expect, and it proved fairly a jarring expertise once we did a side-by-side pace comparability working by menus on a MIP-packing Garmin Forerunner 955 Photo voltaic.

We all know there are many old-school Garmin followers that lament the corporate’s shift in direction of AMOLED, and, whereas we do acknowledge the gentle trade-offs in battery life (and get into this extra beneath), we additionally really feel fairly assured that almost all of individuals in search of a working watch would decide the FR265 over the FR255. 

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 display size

Elsewhere, the design is comparatively unchanged, however the FR265 does even have a few different minor aesthetic adjustments to notice. 

You continue to get the identical traditional five-button array across the case’s edge, for instance, however Garmin has now made the ‘Begin/Cease’ button at 2 o’clock a lot larger. The bezel additionally has a bit extra of a shaped-off look to it, which, once more, provides to the extra fashionable really feel. 

Whether or not it is on the whole put on or monitoring, it is a design that also works extremely effectively. It is light-weight and resilient, and the transfer to a greater show kind additionally means it is even simpler to drag off once you’re not in your train gear.

Coaching options

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 training readinessGarmin has redesigned the ‘Begin/Cease’ button for the FR265

The core coaching options you possibly can anticipate finding on the FR265 are just about similar to those who we examined on the FR255.

The one notable change, actually, is the addition of Coaching Readiness – Garmin’s spherical determine derived from sleep monitoring, restoration time, coronary heart charge variability averages, short-term coaching load and stress historical past. 

It is a characteristic that we really feel is nearly at all times in tune with how we might interpret our personal readiness, however we’re additionally pretty assured that Garmin will add it to the FR255 in some unspecified time in the future in 2023, so we would not essentially tag it as one of many causes to improve. 

It is mildly disappointing that Garmin hasn’t rolled out any extra notable software program options to pair with this new technology, however, on the similar time, the core make-up remains to be nearly as good as you may discover on any sports-focused watch.

Let’s run by how a pair extra of the important thing ones work.

HRV Standing

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 review HRV test

After debuting on final yr’s Forerunner fashions, HRV Standing has developed into among the best methods to know your acute restoration to coaching.

And, as we have discovered from testing during the last yr or so, Garmin’s knowledge strains up roughly throughout the similar ranges as Whoop and Oura’s estimates. For us, that is sometimes wherever round 60 – 85ms. 

Even in the event you’ve been monitoring HRV Standing on one other suitable machine, it (type of annoyingly) nonetheless takes a recent 21 days to develop totally and notify you whether or not your HRV is balanced or unbalanced, however in a single day averages can be found till you full this. 

Coaching Standing, Acute Load and Continual Load

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 acute load

Coaching Standing and the following ‘Load’ metrics surrounding it are what basically information your coaching, supplying you with an perception into whether or not your periods divide between low cardio, excessive cardio and anaerobic work.

It is our private favourite, and one thing Garmin continues to refine, with options like Chronic Load (not on the watch but, however now obtainable in Garmin Join) including extra context to the Acute Load metric that provides you an thought of the 7-day pressure in your physique. 

Since HRV Standing joined, the ‘Standing’ aspect of Coaching Standing is now a lot much less reliant on the VO2 Max estimate, too, and really rewards you for sustaining your health stage – moderately than punishing you for not continuously bettering. 

Coronary heart charge accuracy

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 heart rate tracking exampleHRV comparability: FR265 (left), Whoop 4.0 (center), Oura Ring Gen 3 Horizon (proper)

We have taken loads of very correct samples from the Garmin Elevate 4.0 optical heart rate monitor during the last couple of years, and, as anticipated, the one packed contained in the FR265 does the job fairly effectively.

It is not fully with out its quirks, although. We nonetheless suppose it takes a bit too lengthy to react to fluctuations in your coronary heart charge (even when this largely works itself out for post-workout graphs and averages), with one thing just like the Apple Watch or Whoop reacting 10-15 seconds faster than we have discovered with Elevate 4.0. 

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 review heart rate tracking testCoronary heart charge monitoring comparability: FR265 (left), Wahoo Tickr X (center), Whoop 4.0 (proper)

In a treadmill interval stress check, proven above, it matches up fairly effectively with the Whoop on our bicep and the Wahoo Tickr X chest strap. Nonetheless, it does additionally exhibit its tendency to barely overreport right here, with each most and common coronary heart charge estimates a number of beats above the opposite trackers. Whoop’s session common, not pictured, was 150 BPM.

We do not actually class this as sufficient of a discrepancy to essentially fault the FR265 – it is simply one thing to remember. It is also far more prevalent in interval exercises and power coaching, versus regular restoration periods in a single coronary heart charge zone. 

GPS accuracy

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 review gps tracking testGPS monitoring comparability: FR265 (left), Xiaomi Watch S1 Professional (proper)

Since transferring to its Multi-Band/dual-frequency GPS system, we have been fairly impressed by the extent of accuracy Garmin’s been in a position to ship when reporting distances and routes. And, once more, we have discovered efficiency extremely steady within the FR265.

Whereas it is true the antenna was bested in our one-off test at the Chicago Marathon by the Apple Watch Ultra final November, it continues to ace our extra routine exams in additional open areas like road pavements.

When in comparison with Xiaomi’s dual-band GPS on this check – one that actually struggles to choose us out on a large street or on shaded paths – it leaves us fairly assured that the FR265 is ready to assess the gap to bulletproof ranges in most terrains.

We’re wanting to do some extra testing in built-up areas, although, so keep tuned for that. 

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 review gps tracking comparison

It is not nearly simply whether or not it seems correct, both. Garmin’s comparatively new SatIQ characteristic means it is also very battery environment friendly. It solely wants to show to Multi-Band and All Programs GPS when it actually must -say, once you’re surrounded by skyscrapers or thick forestland. 

This lets you merely begin your exercise and relaxation straightforward figuring out the watch is adapting based mostly on the power of the sign – and this is not one thing that is actually obtainable on many gadgets.

Plus, in the event you’re as a lot of a knowledge dork as we’re, you may even be happy to know that Garmin Join’s post-workout location monitoring worm remains to be the very best round.

While you zoom in and see that you’ve got been logged so precisely – even when working on the identical path a number of occasions – it is tough to not place confidence in the measurement.

Sleep monitoring and well being options

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 sleep trackingGPS monitoring comparability: FR265 (left), Xiaomi Watch S1 Professional (proper)

The FR265 could also be a fitness-tracking powerhouse from which you’ll be able to log all the things out of your morning run to a night mountain bike session, however the extra wellbeing-focused options are simply as essential as GPS and coronary heart charge in relation to figuring out the accuracy of Garmin’s coaching options. 

We must always point out that this is not essentially the most full well being monitoring package deal obtainable, although. Should you’re in search of such in a Garmin machine, the Venu 2 Plus remains to be the chief of the pack; being the only device with the necessary design to support ECG readings.

It is semi-surprising that Garmin did not embody it right here, however, if it did, we’re probably not certain there’d be many justifications left for purchasing a Venu over the FR265.

Garmin additionally hasn’t debuted every other thrilling well being insights like physique temperature right here, however there may be room for respiratory charge, sleep monitoring, resting coronary heart charge readings and blood oxygen saturation estimates.

We can’t get too slowed down in issues like resting coronary heart charge, given that almost each producer plucks this determine at completely different occasions of the day, however suffice it to say that the FR265 recorded us inside our typical vary of 48-53 BPM.

SpO2 figures, as effectively, which we do not essentially put a large amount of inventory into, did at all times present us within the 95% and above vary – as did the Whoop and Oura we examined the FR265 in opposition to. 

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 review photo 27

The true shock out of all that is that the sleep tracking carried out unnervingly effectively.

We have been fairly important of Garmin’s sleep monitoring total – even not too long ago, in our Garmin Marq (Gen 2) review – with gadgets routinely not logging appropriate occasions in mattress, and sometimes registering minimal awake time or deep sleep. 

The knock-on of this crappy sleep knowledge, in fact, is that options like Coaching Readiness and Physique Battery then endure.

However one thing seems to have modified with the FR265. 

And whereas we can’t get too excited in regards to the particular sleep stage evaluation, provided that this knowledge is unattainable to confirm with out us heading into a correct sleep lab, is notable that the FR265 truly managed to match up with the likes of Whoop and Oura. That is not one thing we have actually seen earlier than from a Garmin. 

We did not have one single time-in-bed estimate that was skewed throughout our time with the FR265, and the estimates have been all in wholesome ranges when in comparison with these different prime trackers, as proven above.

Good options

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 notificationsSleep monitoring comparability: FR265 (left), Oura Ring Gen 3 Horizon (center), Whoop 4.0 (proper)

Garmin could also be advertising and marketing the FR265 as a ‘working smartwatch’, however do not go pondering it is carried out sufficient to actually earn that title.

It definitely does boast some sensible options, however the broad expertise is fairly half-baked when in comparison with one thing just like the Apple Watch or perhaps a Wear OS watch

There’s positively sufficient for it to get by, although. Notifications are wealthy, customizable and now far more engaging with the transfer over to AMOLED, and offline music continues to be each a breeze to make use of and fairly extensively supported (even when Apple Music remains to be scarce). 

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 spotify

We won’t say that Garmin’s Connect IQ retailer is absolutely buzzing with polished apps outdoors of a few big-name hitters, nonetheless, and help for issues like Garmin Pay (at the very least right here within the UK) is fairly laughable contemplating what number of years it has been obtainable. 

Whereas they don’t seem to be significantly options we might even discover to be current or not, we do additionally know that there is a pocket of Garmin customers who actually crave a speaker, microphone or sensible assistant help. None of these are right here, both.

The reality is that sensible options simply aren’t the FR265’s forte. And, to be sincere, that is wonderful – we do not actually imagine anyone is shopping for any Forerunner machine for the smartwatch options, in spite of everything.

Battery life

WareableGarmin Forerunner 265 watch faceGarmin has included 8GB of cupboard space within the FR265.

When rumblings first started relating to an AMOLED Forerunner, the intrigue instantly started about whether or not Garmin might maintain ample battery ranges.

Following the path different Garmin AMOLED watches blazed, nonetheless, the FR265 is ready to provide you with in depth battery life even once you demand lots from the settings.

For our check, we largely had the FR265 arrange with the always-on show turned on, default brightness, blood oxygen monitoring throughout sleep monitoring and the display screen turned off between 22:00 – 07:00.

Then there have been our workout-specific settings. On common, we used the SatIQ GPS for round an hour every day, and sometimes logged two hours of complete exercise time. Throughout about half of those periods, we used the FR265 to stream music from Spotify, whereas display screen brightness was at all times maxed out.

Utilizing these fairly particular settings – however ones we expect are pretty typical of most customers – we discovered that the battery drained round 25% per day, placing complete capability at simply over 4 days. 

That is far more than we have present in every other comparable machine and settings setup, such because the Apple Watch Extremely, even whether it is nonetheless lower than the 5 days Garmin touts in a comparable setup. 

Plus, once we did flip the always-on show off throughout common use, it successfully doubled its cycle. As a substitute of 25%, we discovered solely round 10-15% for use. 

For reference, an hour-long, GPS-tracked run additionally solely depleted the battery by 5%, with this stretching to 12% in a separate hour-long run with music streaming. 

The upshot is that there are tons and tons of choices at your disposal – and we expect you possibly can positively get a few weeks in the event you have been fairly conservative. And, as we are saying, even in the event you’re not, it is nonetheless higher than anything with these show specs and options. 

It would not examine with the roughly two-week battery life you’d get with a Forerunner that includes a MIP show, which is technically always-on by default, however we actually suppose the trade-off is price it.


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