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Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Garmin Forerunner 55: What’s the difference?

Garmin has revealed the Forerunner 165, a new budget-friendly smartwatch with key upgrades like an AMOLED display – but how does it compare to Garmin’s true budget wearable, the Forerunner 55?

While you might assume that the Forerunner 165 will be wholly more capable than the Forerunner 55, coming in at £70 more than the budget model, that’s not the case. Instead, the two smartwatches offer entirely different propositions.

That might sound confusing, but that’s where we at Trusted Reviews come in. Here, we break down the key differences between the Garmin Forerunner 165 and Garmin Forerunner 55 to help you decide which is best for your needs. If you want a better idea of the market at large, take a look at our hand-picked selection of the best running watches.  

The Garmin Forerunner 165 has an OLED display

One of the biggest differences between the new Garmin Forerunner 165 and the Forerunner 55 is the display tech the smartwatches use. 

The Forerunner 55 uses a special memory-in-pixel display that gives it a look not too dissimilar from an E Ink display, albeit with colour. It’s not only battery efficient but also sunlight reflective, making it easy to view in outdoor environments. There’s just a trade-off in overall screen quality compared to the regular LCD and OLED screens used by much of the competition.

In fact, that includes the new Forerunner 165 which has seen the upgrade to AMOLED display tech, sporting a 1.2-inch AMOLED panel that’s much more vibrant, colourful and responsive than the MIP display of the Forerunner 55. This makes looking at your stats, recovery insights and even notifications a little bit nicer on the newer model.

Garmin Forerunner 165
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The Garmin Forerunner 55 has better battery life

You might assume that a newer smartwatch will offer better battery life than older models in the collection, but that’s not the case with these two Garmins.

That’s because, while the new Garmin Forerunner 165 can last a pretty decent 11 days in smartwatch mode and 19 hours in GPS mode, that falls short of the cheaper Forerunner 55. More specifically, the Forerunner 55 can last 14 days in smartwatch mode and a slightly boosted 20 hours in GPS mode. 

That’s likely down to the aforementioned display tech, with the Forerunner 55’s MIP display offering a more battery-efficient alternative to the Forerunner 165’s upgraded AMOLED panel, but I imagine there are other factors at play too. 

You can listen to music on the Forerunner 165

Long runs and music go hand-in-hand, right? The right song can help you power through those tough moments, after all.

If that’s true for you and you don’t like the idea of also carrying your smartphone to listen to music while you’re exercising, the Forerunner 165 – or the Forerunner 165 Music, specifically – is the one to go for.

It’s essentially a different version of the regular Forerunner 165 that lets you download songs and playlists from Spotify, Deezer or Amazon Music. From there, simply connect your wireless earbuds via Bluetooth and leave that phone of yours at home!

Unfortunately, the Forerunner 55 doesn’t offer any similar functionality, so if that’s important to you, there’s only one option for you. 

Both offer high-end health and exercise tracking

Regardless of the Forerunner model you opt for, you’ll get the same high-level health and exercise tracking that Garmin is famed for. That includes pretty standard smartwatch tracking like general movement and sleep monitoring, enhanced with nap detection and a morning report that gives you a good idea of your recovery and an outlook on the day’s training.

Garmin Forerunner 55
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

That’s where Garmin smartwatches tend to stand out from the fitness-focused competition, offering exercise-specific features like Race Adaptive Training Plans – essentially custom race training – along with custom courses, elements like Training Effect that provide insight into how workouts are affecting your fitness, and in-depth tracking for over 25 sports with individual metrics for each. 

What’s more, with GPS available on both models of Forerunner, you’ll get accurate measurements even when you leave your connected smartphone at home. 

The Garmin Forerunner 55 is much cheaper

When it comes to the all-important pricing, the Garmin Forerunner 55 is the most affordable of the two smartwatches, coming in at £179.99. The Garmin Forerunner 165, on the other hand, comes in at a pricier £249.99 while the Forerunner 165 Music comes in at £289.99, £40 more. 

If budget is important to you, the Forerunner 55 offers great value for money. If you want a nicer display or the ability to play music, however, you’ll have to cough up for the more premium Forerunner 165 or 165 Music. 

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