The Garmin Forerunner 745 and 955 are some highly-capable models, and their retail pricing ($499-599) reflects their premium features. If you’re deciding between the two watches, you want to make sure you’re making the right investment.
In this post, I’ll go over their similarities and differences, and sharing some reasons to choose one over the other.
As context for my review, I’m a distance runner who trains mainly for marathons, but I’ve also dabbled in trail running and triathlons. I bought a used FR745 to test before passing it on, and I used a loaner FR955 for a few months. I’m a GPS watch nerd and have tested lots of models over the years, and want to help you make a decision (check out the rest of my GPS watch comparisons).
This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I earn a small commission on any purchases, at no extra cost to you. Your support allows me to keep writing reviews like this one 🙂
Things in Common: Forerunner 745 and 955
The Forerunner 745 and 955 have a lot of similar features. Here’s a quick overview of them:
Fitness tracking for common activities: You’ll be able to track a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including:
|Running, Treadmill Running, Track Running (indoor + outdoor), Trail Running, Ultra Running, Virtual Running
|Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking, eBiking, Mountain eBiking
|Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming
|Walking, Hiking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Classic Skiing, XC Skate Skiing, Backcountry Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Kayaking
|Strength, HIIT, Cardio, Elliptical Training, Yoga, Pilates, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing
Everyday fitness stats: Steps, floors climbed, heart rate, Pulse Ox, stress, sleep, menstrual cycle.
- VO2 max
- Recovery Time
- Race Predictor (and how your predicted paces have trended over the last 4 weeks)
- Training Status (how productive your training is)
- Training Load (whether your training is a smart amount)
- Training Effect (how your workouts impact your endurance, speed, and power)
- Body Battery (energy levels based on heart rate variability, stress, and activity)
- HRV status (FR955) or HRV stress test (FR745)
Workout features: Interval workouts, PacePro (helps you create and stick to a pacing plan), suggested workouts, breadcrumb navigation, Audio Prompts.
Smartwatch features: Weather, calendar, messages, Garmin Pay (contactless payments), find my phone/watch, Smart Lock (automatically unlock your phone when your watch is in range).
Music functionality: Download songs, podcasts, and playlists from Spotify Premium, Amazon Music, Deezer, or iHeartRadio. You can also download MP3 tracks.
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).
They do have pretty substantial differences though, so let’s get into those now!
Reasons to Pick the Forerunner 745
The Forerunner 745 is part of Garmin’s original “triathlon watch” lineup, with the 700 series originally being the first tier of the Forerunners to offer open water swimming. Now that the 255 and up have multisport capabilities, it’s possible that we may never see a Forerunner 755, though I wouldn’t be surprised either way.
Because the Forerunner 745 is less premium and an older model than the FR955, this section is going to naturally be shorter. But keep in mind the FR745 could still be the right watch for you.
Since the FR745 has been around since September 2020, you can find it on secondhand sites for as low as $200, which is quite the steal for a GPS watch with music, multisport, contactless payments, and safety features. If you buy the FR955 used, it’s significantly more expensive, though it can be found for a good discount at around $380.
I would recommend looking on Swappa, eBay, or Mercari to get the best deals. I got a used FR745 from eBay at a steep discount in 2021, and I’ve also bought a used FR55 from Mercari and had a good experience (btw, that Mercari link is a referral link that gets you $10 off your first purchase).
Keep in mind that the FR955 retails for $499-599, depending on whether you get the solar version. This is actually very similar to the $499 retail price of the FR745. As a result, I would not recommend buying the FR745 at full retail price, since it’s older and doesn’t have as many features.
Smaller size and lighter weight
The Forerunner 745 is physically smaller and lighter than the Forerunner 955, which is quite a beefy watch for my small wrists. For reference, my wrists are around 5.5 inches (14cm) in circumference. The FR745 was much more comfortable to wear. While the FR955 was still fine for me, it did hurt my wrist after wearing it for a prolonged period of time.
If you’re interested in specific dimensions, the Forerunner 745 is 13% lighter than the Forerunner 955 at 47g vs. 53g, respectively. The case size of the FR745 is 43.8 x 43.8 x 13.3 mm and it’s 46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4 mm for the FR955. The display size of the FR745 is also slightly smaller at 1.2″ vs. the 1.3″ of the FR955.
This may feel more superficial, but if you’re going to spend a good chunk of change on a watch, you should like how it looks! The Forerunner 745 has a couple fun color options called Neo Tropic (mint) and Magma Red. The FR955 only comes in black or light gray.
Of course, you can always change the bands out for fun colors, but the watch case will be a different color from the band.
GroupTrack is the group version of LiveTrack. If you plan to do group bike rides, this can be helpful for seeing where everyone is. You can see where your Garmin Connections are during their activity on your phone.
Reasons to Pick the Forerunner 955
The Forerunner 955 is one of Garmin’s most capable watches, and it does basically what the super fancy Fenix series does except in a (still-durable) plastic case. Here are some of the extra features it has that the FR745 doesn’t.
Longer battery life
The Forerunner 955 lasts more than twice as long as the FR745 in smartwatch mode (1 vs. 2 weeks). In GPS mode, you get 26 more hours on the FR955 as well.
Here’s a table of their battery life in different modes:
|GPS-only GNSS mode
|All-Systems GNSS mode
|GPS-only mode plus music
|All-Systems plus Multi-Band
More accurate tracking modes
Some of the terms in the above table may sound like gibberish, so let me explain. “GNSS” stands for Global Navigation Satellite System. “All-Systems” lets your watch use any of the satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou, QZSS) and switch between them based on the quality of their signals. This is the default setting for the FR955. “Multi-Band” is the dual-frequency option that allows your watch to get L1 and L5 frequency signals, and is the most accurate.
The Forerunner 745 is still accurate, but the Forerunner 955’s tracking looks really good. It’s super clean and the map of my run in the app afterwards doesn’t have any weird deviations that can happen sometimes.
If you train in big cities or remote areas with weaker signal, having these extra tracking modes may be helpful.
The FR955 was the first watch in the Forerunner series to have a touchscreen. I wasn’t sure how I’d like a touchscreen Forerunner because the sporty build didn’t seem fitting for one, but it’s pretty convenient. I really like being able to scroll through the data screens on the run summaries, and swiping through my performance and daily fitness data.
If you don’t like touchscreens, you can always disable it, and you would never be able to tell that the watch has a touchscreen since the glass is very discreet. In fact, it’s Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX, which is similar to the other watch lens materials.
If you get the solar version of the FR955 ($100 more at $599), you can extend the already-excellent battery life slightly, but you have to be in the right conditions.
Here are the battery life estimates below (Garmin says these are assuming 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions, which is a slightly overcast day).
- Smartwatch mode: Up to 15 days / 20 days with solar
- GPS-only mode without music: Up to 42 hours / 49 hours with solar
- All Systems GNSS mode plus Multi-Band without music: Up to 20 hours / 22 hours with solar
- Ultratrac mode: Up to 80 hours / 110 hours with solar
It was winter in the Midwest when I tested the FR955, so it was hard to meet those solar conditions, but they would be no problem in the warmer months. To help you understand your solar conditions, the FR955 Solar has a widget which lets you know the solar intensity it’s been exposed to over the last 3 hours.
It’s worth noting that the FR955 Solar is physically different from the regular version, as it has a thin solar rim around the display (you can see these in the photos since that’s I tested the solar version). The display sizes are the same, however, as space for that rim is taken from the bezel. I don’t love the look of the solar rim, but it’s not that bothersome. It can making taking photos of the watch face difficult though, so keep that in mind if you like posting photos of your workout summaries to social
More activity tracking
The FR955 tracks a whole slew of activities that are more specialized, including:
|Road Biking, Gravel Biking, Bike Commuting, Bike Touring, Cyclocross, BMX
|Backcountry Skiing, Backcountry Snowboarding, XC Skate Skiing, Ice Skating, Snowshoeing
|Tennis, Padel, Table Tennis, Platform Tennis, Pickleball, Squash, Raquetball, Badminton
|Kayaking, Climbing/Bouldering, Archery, Boxing, MMA
|Overland, BMX, Snowmobile, ATV, Motorcycle, Motorcross
You can just use the less-specific modes for some of these if you get the FR745, but for others like Tennis, you’ll have to use plain old cardio and then update it in the app later.
Quick GPS acquisition time
The Forerunner 955 was the quickest Garmin I’ve tested when it came to latching onto GPS signal. For most Garmins, I have to wait around 15 seconds on average.
The FR955 Solar I tested was at least twice as fast, if not more. I never bothered timing it because it was so quick, and just as fast at latching onto signal as COROS watches (sometimes it was even faster).
Landscape and topographic mapping
If you’re planning to do long hikes in remote areas, you may appreciate this feature. The Forerunner 955 has full-color topographic and landscape maps that come preloaded and are very detailed.
You get names of streets, trails, and major landmarks, all with turn-by-turn navigation. The Forerunner 745 has navigation, but only a breadcrumb trail, which is harder to follow.
The Bottom Line
The Forerunner 745 is a better pick for athletes who:
- Are on a smaller budget
- Have smaller wrists
- Want fun colors
- Want to use GroupTrack for group bike rides
The Forerunner 955 would be better for those who:
- Need longer battery life
- Want a touchscreen watch
- Need more accurate tracking modes
- Want a solar charging option
- Play sports not included on the FR745, like tennis, pickleball, etc.
- Want full mapping
Both watches are extremely capable, and I enjoyed using both. If I had to personally pick one, I’d say that the FR955 is a little too intense/expensive for me, and it’s too large, though I really liked the touchscreen and fast GPS acquisition.
The FR745 would be my pick as a result, but I would want a watch with longer battery life and something even smaller, which is why the FR255S or FR265S would be a better fit for me.
Where to Buy the FR745 and FR955
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.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. Also let us know what you picked and why!
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