Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar review: 7 weeks and 200 miles of testing

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar

MSRP $599.00

“It is a serious look ahead to serious runners. If that is you, you may be ecstatic with every part the 955 Solar has to supply.”


  • Incredible battery life
  • Consistently accurate GPS tracking
  • Touch screen and 5-button navigation
  • Easy-to-read screen in all conditions
  • Great fitness and health features


  • Solar version is overkill for many runners
  • Core features equivalent to lower Forerunners

Standing within the starting corrals of any running race, you’ll see a wide selection of substances. Dozens of brands of shoes, shorts, sunglasses, and hats. Over hundreds of miles running, all and sundry finds the unique setup that works best for them. But while you concentrate on people’s wrists, one name dominates: Garmin. It isn’t a fashion statement or fad; Garmin has a well-earned status as the perfect smartwatch for runners, providing the features, design, and reliable performance we require. It’s continually reinforced for me: The more serious the race, the more Garmins you see.

For the past two years, I’ve been running exclusively with a Forerunner 245 Music — a reasonable, but not completely budget, Garmin model available for about $275. Now I’m fortunate to be using Garmin’s latest, highest-end Forerunner: the 955 Solar. At $600, it’s immediately clear this isn’t for the casual runner tracking morning jogs. And albeit, given all of its capabilities, it’s overkill for most individuals, unless you propose on entering into triathlons or ultramarathons. It’s also notably costlier than all however the stainless steel-cased Apple Watch Series 7.

Here’s every part it has to supply, and my recommendations for runners who’re eyeing Garmin’s latest and biggest.

Testing over weeks and miles

A person running on a track with a Garmin watch.Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

I’ve now logged 200 miles running with the Forerunner 955 Solar on my wrist, along with loads of walks, bike rides, and rounds of golf, all across over seven weeks. Once I’m not running, I’ve been wearing it as a day by day smartwatch paired to my iPhone.

I’m on target to run over 1,000 miles in 2022. I actually have already run three half marathons this 12 months, and this watch arrived at an ideal time to get me moving on my fall marathon training cycle. (Huge due to Nike for inviting me to affix its NYC group training for Chicago!). I’m used to wearing my previous Forerunner, and picky about what a running watch offers. I even have a stunning assistant on this review, my girlfriend, who has been running with this watch’s predecessor, the Forerunner 945 — so I tapped her expertise for finer points of comparison between the 2 closely related models.

The Garmin Forerunner basics

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar on wrist.Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Let’s quickly get through the fundamentals, because I actually don’t must get into every little detail. You likely won’t get the Forerunner 955 as your first running watch, or your first Garmin. Likelihood is you may have a Garmin already and you realize what you’re entering into here.

That is Garmin’s top-end Forerunner model, which — because the name suggests — targets avid runners. At $600, it’s topped only by a few of Garmin’s Fenix and Enduro multisport watches, and specialist models for divers and pilots. That is, in lots of respects, top of the road.

For that cash, you’re getting a big watch with nearly every part Garmin has to supply. A giant 1.3-inch always-on color touchscreen, every GPS tracking mode and sensor you may ever want (and more you didn’t know existed), waterproofing, a rugged exterior, an enormous 32GB of storage, an enormous battery, and solar charging capabilities.

In case you take running seriously, you wear a Garmin.

Garmin’s smartwatches pair to an iPhone or Android with the Garmin Connect app, bringing you an entire suite of fitness and wellness functions for no additional subscription. You may track absolutely every part about your training, performance, body condition, recovery, and general health stats with this watch. And Garmin does its best to show that data into actionable insights for you — whether you’re casually scrolling through the primary feed, or diving deep into the analytics.

That concentrate on activity tracking doesn’t leave much room for the rest. There are other apps you possibly can install and run on the Forerunner series, but they’re very utilitarian in nature. It’s likely that every part you’d prefer to do with a Garmin is pre-loaded on the watch, and integrated thoroughly at that. A series of home screen panels covers every part it’s worthwhile to learn about your health and fitness, and also you get small things on top like alarms, timers, the weather, and notifications out of your phone.


Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar watch being worn.Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

The 1.3-inch display is barely larger than the Forerunner 945’s 1.2-inch, despite the case actually being barely narrower. The resolution has bumped up as well, to 260 x 260 pixels, though that simply leaves you with the identical pixels per inch because the old model. The screen is improved, though. Side by side with the 945, you possibly can see the blacks are much deeper, and the backlighting is noticeably higher.

I fully expected the display to be a lot better than my Forerunner 245, but I didn’t expect that the difference can be this dramatic. The larger screen, paired with the upper resolution and improved clarity, just makes the 955 Solar a joy to make use of. It’s easy to see every part on the display at a look while running, even in direct sunlight and at an angle. That’s a differentiator for all Garmin watches when put next to an Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch, nevertheless it’s in top form on the 955.

You don’t want glare — or a touchscreen — to take into consideration while running.

The display’s quality is especially noticeable when viewing more intricate and colourful content on the primary home screens, in addition to when navigating a mapped route during a run. Sure, it’s not delivering OLED display levels of clarity … but those displays also bring huge compromises in battery life and glare.

You get Gorilla Glass DX glass over the screen, not an artificial sapphire. Perhaps that’s disappointing at this price, but I wouldn’t count out Garmin making the choice based on the shatter resistance of the materials. I make zero effort to guard this watch, so unsurprisingly, I actually have a few faint scratches on the glass. They’re only viewable at certain angles, and I can’t feel them with a fingernail, so it’s hard to complain.

Touchscreen and buttons

This generation also added touch capability to the screen — something available on other Garmins, but not the Forerunner 945. Critically that doesn’t come on the expense of physical buttons. You may still navigate your entire interface with the normal Garmin 5-button layout, and the touch screen is disabled by default when tracking activities. In case you aren’t a runner, this may increasingly not make sense to you — but trust me, you don’t desire a touchscreen when running. By chance having rain, drips of sweat, or a brush together with your shirt pause or lap your run without you knowing really stinks.

The Garmin interface is so easy and simple to administer with the 5-button system that I often went days forgetting that it even had a touchscreen. It’s only useful while you’re scrolling through notifications or lists of settings, and while you do use it it’s smooth and responsive. So sure, it’s nice to have, but Garmin could’ve removed this feature and sure not lost any customers. I believe it’s mostly there to assist placate folks who’re on the fence coming over from touchscreen watches and see the 5-button layout as antiquated. (They’ll be converted to the buttons in brief order, though.)

Design, size, and luxury

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar watch displaying heart rate zones.Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Garmin Forerunners definitely have a unique design. They aren’t attempting to be particularly svelte or sleek; they’re utilitarian and purposeful. The 955 Solar’s chunky plastic body has a couple of smooth curves and trendy cuts on the side, but otherwise simply takes up as much space because it must as a way to fit the myriad components inside.

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar watch on wrist.Andrew Martonik / DIgital Trends

There may be one nice design flourish on the front, the reflective solar ring across the screen, which provides an interesting sheen and colourful pop depending on the lighting. It’s also a little bit of an “in the event you know, you realize” nod to other Garmin wearers you see out on the road, showing off that you may have a high-end version.

For its size, the Forerunner 955 Solar is light and comfy on my wrist — for day by day wear, long runs, and even sleeping. But on my girlfriend’s smaller wrist, it looks a bit comical. You’ll really need to do this one on before buying in the event you’re petite, and possibly consider a 700-series model as an alternative.

Side of the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar.

Back of the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar.

The band is especially light and breathable, as is the case with every Garmin I’ve worn, however the trade-off is that the entire package can feel a bit low-cost. I realize it’s sturdy, and weight reduction is paramount, but in the event you’re comparing this to more fashion-focused metal smartwatches, you’ll be disillusioned.

Battery life

One among the important thing reasons Garmin purists are so reluctant to change off of the platform for something fancy like an Apple Watch is the battery longevity, and the 955 delivers here. Garmin claims a remarkable 20 days of battery life in easy smartwatch mode connected to your phone, plus a really impressive 42 to 49 hours of usage in GPS mode.

That’s 5 more days in smartwatch mode and seven more hours in GPS tracking mode than even the non-Solar 955.

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar battery life expectations.

That solar-boosted battery life, in accordance with Garmin, is predicated on the watch spending a substantial amount of day trip in considerable amounts of sunlight. The “20 days” measurement requires 3 hours per day outdoors in 50,000 lux sunlight, and the extra 7 hours of use in GPS mode requires continuous exposure to that very same 50,000 lux. In case you don’t know lux measurements by memory (I sure don’t), 50,000 lux is similar to a moderately sunny day at high noon or a transparent day within the morning or afternoon. Garmin users probably spend more hours per week outside than the typical adult, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if probably the most lively amongst us would get value out of the Solar model.

My old Forerunner 245 quotes just 7 days of smartwatch usage or 6 straight hours of GPS tracking. It’s, in spite of everything, a much inexpensive watch with a much smaller case and battery. Switching over, I’ve been floored by the battery life on the 955 Solar. The added longevity is maybe probably the most noteworthy advantage of this model over lesser Forerunner offerings.

You may easily use this for 2 weeks without charging, even with many runs.

With the 955 Solar, you possibly can easily make it a full two weeks without charging, even in the event you’re happening multiple multi-hour runs per week. And that’s enticing. Not worrying about charging even after I’m heading out for an extended run with just 10% battery left is refreshing. My experience testing for the higher a part of two months has met or beat Garmin’s estimates above; I typically saw around 2% battery usage per hour of multi-band GPS tracking.

It’s price noting that the usual Forerunner 955 without solar will likely still be way above most individuals’s expectations, and serve all but probably the most extreme ultramarathoner’s needs for tracking. I’m also keenly aware of how quickly Garmins recharge; it’s even less of a pain while you’re only topping it off once every several days. If I were buying for myself, I’d skip the $100 solar up-charge.

GPS tracking accuracy

For this reason we’re all wearing Garmins for running: GPS tracking accuracy. Running a majority of my miles in densely packed Recent York City, I’ve seen some seriously wonky stuff occur with wrist-bound GPS tracking, mostly with my Apple Watch but even at times with my Forerunner 245. The 955 has consistently outperformed my 245 within the time it takes to lock GPS before starting an activity, and the consistency with which it’s in a position to track pace even when running along city streets and between tall buildings.

In comparison with my Forerunner 245, and even the Forerunner 945, the 955 comes with additional GPS tracking modes. You may select to make use of the “All + Multi-Band” mode to leverage all possible GPS constellations together. Even leaving my watch within the default “smart” tracking mode somewhat than the more battery-intense “every second” plotting, my 955 stayed dead on next to the 945 using its most accurate and battery-intensive tracking settings.

I only had a single instance where the GPS struggled to lock on, and it was unsurprisingly the one time I made a decision to be impatient and begin a run before the watch indicated it had a whole lock. Once I waited for a GPS lock (every other run, in fact), I used to be tracking perfectly each time.

Our take

The Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar is an impressive runner’s watch that exceeded my expectations. Unless you run — and run loads — you won’t understand why you’d spend $600 on such a utilitarian smartwatch with few of the fashionable smartwatch bells and whistles. But anyone who’s making it to the underside of this review will get it, and at that time, you’ll likely be seriously considering buying one for yourself.

My only suggestion against the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar is that whole solar part. The existence of the non-solar model for a full $100 less, with still-great battery life and all the same features, makes it tough to recommend that higher-end model for anyone but probably the most dedicated long-distance runners. The battery life will still be excellent, and Garmins charge in a short time.

If you may have a lower-end (or older) Forerunner and also you’re trying to upgrade as you are taking running more seriously, you’ll love the 955 Solar’s greater screen, absurdly great battery life, and precise tracking paired with the software and interface you already know. In case you’re just coming to the Forerunner lineup from something like an Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch, or Wear OS watch, likelihood is that is overkill — start out with something simpler, like the Forerunner 245, and see if this can be a trade-off you’re willing to make.

I won’t be going back to my Forerunner 245, that’s obviously. The screen, battery life, and GPS accuracy on the 955 Solar have opened my eyes to the worth of getting the top-end Garmin model.

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