Garmin Forerunner 265 and the Forerunner 965

Garmin Forerunner 265 vs. Forerunner 965: A Comprehensive Comparison

Garmin’s Forerunner series has been a popular choice among sports enthusiasts and athletes for its advanced tracking features and performance feedback.

In this in-depth comparison review, we’ll thoroughly examine the differences between the Garmin Forerunner 265 and the Forerunner 965, both of which offer AMOLED displays and share many sports-focused capabilities.

We’ll explore their hardware, software, fitness tracking features, navigation options, and other essential aspects to help you make an informed decision based on your preferences and needs.

Hardware Differences:

The Forerunner 265 comes in two sizes: a larger 46.1-millimeter case and a smaller 41.7-millimeter case, while the Forerunner 965 is available only in a 47.2-millimeter case. Both watches are impressively thin, measuring around 12.9 millimeters for the larger 265 and 13.2 millimeters for the 965. The smaller 265s is even more compact at 39 grams, while the 265 and 965 weigh 47 grams and 53 grams, respectively.

One striking difference in design is the Forerunner 965’s titanium bezel, which adds a premium touch to the watch. However, the Forerunner 265’s black color and sleek appearance still make it an attractive option. Both watches feature AMOLED displays, but their sizes and resolutions differ based on the model.

The Forerunner 265s has a 1.1-inch display with a resolution of 360 by 360 pixels, the larger 265 boasts a 1.3-inch display with 116 by 416 pixels, and the Forerunner 965 boasts Garmin’s largest AMOLED display yet at 1.4 inches with a resolution of 454 by 454 pixels.

Software and User Interface:

Both watches run on Garmin’s latest software platform, providing access to the same widgets, customization options, and apps from the Garmin Connect IQ store. The user interface and features are largely identical between the two watches, offering a seamless user experience.

Sports and Fitness Tracking:

Both the Forerunner 265 and 965 support a wide range of activities, including running, cycling, swimming, and triathlon. They offer advanced metrics for sports performance, such as heart rate monitoring, GPS tracking, VO2 max estimation, training load insights, and more.

Additionally, the Forerunner 965 includes a Pulse Ox sensor for monitoring blood oxygen levels, a valuable feature for high-altitude activities and sleep tracking. This sensor is absent in the Forerunner 265.

Music Support:

Both watches offer music storage and playback functionalities, but the Forerunner 965 has an advantage with music streaming support, allowing users to download and listen to music directly from the watch via Wi-Fi or cellular connection (if available in the region). The Forerunner 265 requires manual music transfers from a computer.

Smart Features:

Both watches can receive smartphone notifications and control music playback on a paired phone. However, the Forerunner 965’s Wi-Fi and cellular capabilities enable more seamless connectivity, even when the phone is not nearby, providing additional convenience for users.

Navigation Features:

The most significant difference between the two watches lies in their navigation capabilities. The Forerunner 965 boasts full-color, on-device maps, allowing users to navigate unfamiliar areas confidently, plan routes, and see their location in relation to surroundings. The Forerunner 265, on the other hand, relies on breadcrumb-style route navigation, lacking detailed mapping information.

The onboard maps on the Forerunner 965 are particularly beneficial for outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, and cyclists who venture into new territories. With access to detailed topography, streets, and points of interest, users can explore confidently and find their way back safely.

Battery Life:

The Forerunner 265 excels in battery life, lasting up to 16 hours with GPS enabled, making it suitable for prolonged activities without frequent recharging. Meanwhile, the Forerunner 965’s battery life is around 10 to 12 hours with GPS enabled, owing to its advanced features and color display.

However, it’s important to note that both watches have longer battery life when used in non-GPS modes, making them suitable for everyday wear as well. Frequent charging might be necessary for users who rely heavily on GPS tracking for extended periods.

Comfort and Durability:

Comfort is an essential factor, especially for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts who wear the watch for extended periods. The Forerunner 265’s lighter weight and slimmer profile might make it more comfortable for some users, while others might appreciate the larger display and added features of the Forerunner 965. Ultimately, individual preferences and wrist size play a significant role in determining which watch feels better.

Both watches are built with high-quality materials and are water-resistant, allowing you to wear them in the shower or swim with them without worry. The Forerunner 965’s Gorilla Glass DX provides better scratch resistance and reduced reflection compared to the Gorilla Glass 3 used in the Forerunner 265 and 265s.

Software Support and Future Outlook:

As of the last update in September 2021, both the Forerunner 265 and Forerunner 965 were the latest models in their respective series. However, Garmin continuously releases new models and provides software updates regularly.

The Forerunner 965 being a higher-end device might receive more extended software support and updates compared to the Forerunner 265. These updates can bring new features, improvements, and bug fixes, enhancing the overall user experience. It’s always a good idea to check for the latest information on software updates and supported devices on Garmin’s official website.


The Garmin Forerunner 265 and Forerunner 965 both offer outstanding sports-focused features, with the Forerunner 965 standing out with its onboard maps, music streaming, and cellular connectivity. The Forerunner 265, however, excels in longer battery life and affordability.

Consider your specific needs, preferred activities, and budget to make the best choice between these two watches, keeping in mind that Garmin frequently releases updates and new models, so the available features may evolve over time. Both watches are capable devices that can help you track and improve your fitness and performance, so you can’t go wrong with either option.


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Daven Klarsen is a technology writer and researcher. He's also an avid sports fan, especially when it comes to the LAL. When not working, you can usually find him tweaking his Android devices or watching soccer news.