The Forerunner 55 is Garmin’s latest update to its entry-level model, while the Forerunner 245 is a mid-range favorite. In this post, I’ll go over their similarities and differences, plus reasons you might pick one over the other.
For context, I’m a marathoner, but I’ve also dabbled in triathlons. Over the past few years, I’ve tested 11 GPS watches, by borrowing from friends or getting loaners. I’ve only personally owned the Garmin Vivoactive 3 and COROS APEX. I had the FR245 as a loaner for a month last year, and I bought the FR55 secondhand for my mom. I do a lot of GPS watch comparisons, so if you’re deciding between other models, take a look at those!
Things in Common: Forerunner 55 and 245
The Forerunner 55 and 245 are pretty darn similar not only in appearance, but also features. Here’s what they have in common:
Fitness tracking for common activities: running indoors/outdoors, biking indoors/outdoors, pool swimming, cardio, elliptical training, stair stepping, and yoga.
Everyday fitness stats: steps, heart rate, stress, sleep, menstrual tracking.
Training metrics: VO2 max, Recovery Time, Race Predictor, Body Battery (energy levels based on heart rate variability, stress, and activity).
Workout features: interval workouts, PacePro (helps you create and stick to a pacing plan), suggested workouts, and Audio Prompts via the Garmin Connect app.
Basic smartwatch features: weather, calendar, messages, find my phone, find my watch, Smart Lock (automatically unlock your phone when watch is in range).
Safety features: LiveTrack and Incident Detection, allowing loved ones to track you during your workouts and be alerted if an incident is detected (your watch must be connected to your phone to access these features)
Reasons to Pick the Forerunner 55
The Forerunner 55 is basically a “lite” version of the Forerunner 245, so it ultimately comes down to whether or not you need the extra features. That said, there are some small things the FR55 does better than the FR245.
If you don’t want to charge your watch often, you may prefer the Forerunner 55. The Forerunner 245 lasts up to a week with regular smartwatch use, while the Forerunner 55 lasts two weeks. On GPS, however, the Forerunner 245 gets up to 24 hours compared to the Forerunner 55’s 20 hours.
In terms of tracking profiles, the FR245 has more options in general, but the FR55 specifically has Pilates and HIIT, which aren’t on the FR245.
Finally, the Forerunner 55 retails for $100-150 cheaper than the Forerunner 245. That said, the Forerunner 245 is an older model now (it was released in 2019), so you can find it for basically the same price as the FR55 by shopping sales or buying used/refurbished.
Reasons to Pick the Forerunner 245
The Forerunner 245 comes in a music and non-music version, which retail at $350 and $300, respectively. The music feature allows you to store music on your watch and download playlists from Spotify Premium, Deezer, and Amazon Music. You can also receive Audio Prompts during workouts through your Bluetooth headphones instead of using your phone for its speaker.
While the Forerunner 55 has Recovery Time and Race Predictor, the Forerunner 245 also has Training Status, Training Load, and Training Effect (aerobic and anaerobic). These metrics help you understand how your training is trending over time, and how each specific run is improving your fitness.
You’ll also find more tracking profiles on the FR245, including indoor rowing, indoor/outdoor track running, trail running, and virtual running. Trail runners and hikers will also appreciate the breadcrumb navigation capabilities (though, if you’re an avid trail runner, I’d actually recommend the COROS APEX—my watch—for its battery life and barometric altimeter).
If you’re interested in learning about your form to improve performance, the FR245 is a better choice since it’s compatible with the Running Dynamics Pod. The pod measures cadence, stride length, ground contact time and balance, vertical oscillation and vertical ratio. Keep in mind that this is different from the Foot Pod, which is used to more accurately track your indoor runs (both the FR245 and FR55 are compatible with this).
The FR245 also tracks Pulse Ox, or blood oxygen saturation. This can be helpful for acclimating to higher elevations and understanding sleep quality.
As mentioned before, the Forerunner 245 lasts 4 hours longer on GPS mode than the Forerunner 55 (24 vs. 20 hours), but keep in mind that using the music mode will drop battery life down to 6 hours.
Finally, the physical size of the FR55 and FR245 is nearly the same, but the display sizes are a little different. The FR245 has a 1.2″ (30.4 mm) diameter, while the FR55 display has a 1.04″ (26.3 mm) diameter. The FR245 also has better resolution at 240 x 240 pixels vs. 203 x 203 pixels. Both are suitable for small wrists (I have tiny wrists, and they both fit fine, with plenty of room to tighten the band).
The Bottom Line
The main differences between the FR245 and FR55 are really the music capabilities, extra training metrics, and trail running features. If those features are worth the extra $100-150, go for the FR245. Otherwise, the FR55 is a solid choice.
If you can get the FR245 for the same or similar price to the FR55, then the choice is pretty clear. One of the perks of the FR245 is that it’s been around for a couple years now, so you should be able to find sales and used/refurbished units at a lower price.
Where to Buy the Forerunner 245 or Forerunner 55
If this review helped you, it would mean a ton if you purchased through my affiliate links. I also want to encourage you to buy secondhand or from small, local running stores if you can. I don’t get paid if you do that, so if you still want to show your appreciation financially, you’re welcome to buy me a virtual coffee.
Feel free to leave any questions in the comments, or let us know what you ultimately decided on!
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