To suggest that Garmin’s range of sports watches is somewhat confusing would be a gross understatement. At the time of this test, Garmin’s website lists 17 models for the Forerunner series alone, which is aimed at runners. A few only differ in size or a slightly different range of functions.
The top model 965 has been on the market since 2023 and accompanied us for two months. It is functionally similar to the Garmin Forerunner 955 (test report), which is still available, but has an AMOLED display. But it costs 100 euros more. Is it worth it? This is what the TechStage test shows.
Unlike the Fenix series, the Forerunner 965 is visually reserved, especially in black. It is currently available in three color variations. The buyer can set their own accents with a bright green bracelet or a light gray case; the completely black version is the most inconspicuous. Some Garmin watches come in a version with a smaller case for slim wrists, but this is not the case with the most expensive model in the Forerunner series.
The watch weighs 52 grams and is very well made. The material impression is not quite as fine as with the Fenix series, but viewed on its own this watch is also of high quality. The bezel is made of titanium, the Gorilla Glass should take a beating. We would always recommend installing a protective glass – the few euros are money well invested, at least in everyday life.
With its AMOLED display, the Forerunner 965 clearly stands out from both the 955 and the Fenix models. Their “Memory in Pixel” display looks pale in comparison. The 1.4-inch screen of the 965, on the other hand, appears brilliant and colorful, and with its 454 by 454 pixels it also has a much higher resolution. In the default setting, whenever an internal logic feels unobserved, everything except the time is off. Only when the user looks at it does all the information light up. Garmin has two things in mind with this. On the one hand, burn-in should be prevented, and on the other hand, of course, the power consumption should be reduced.
A charging and data cable is included. On the one hand it has a USB-C connector and on the other hand it has a proprietary connection for the watch. There is no charger and no possibility of inductive charging.
App & setup
The watch itself is set up quickly and the user is intuitively guided through a menu. However, this only applies to the watch itself. In the app Garmin Connect, which is extensively equipped, the user has to familiarize himself with it. The reward is then an evaluation of training data in a depth that only ambitious athletes will need to this extent.
There are only nuances that lie between a Forerunner 965 and a Fenix 7 Pro. Only the Fenix has a stress test for heart rate variability, and it also has a few more profiles for running types pre-installed. The average user probably won’t miss anything. If so, some things can also be installed later. In general, there are so many profiles pre-installed on the watch, which is aimed specifically at runners, that no one will probably use all the options.
Equipment & Tracking
During the test, the watch was only removed for charging. The running time depends largely on how often the display is turned on and how much activity is recorded. In the test I got a runtime of between six and eleven days – a wide range. When I used all satellites to record position during an activity and sent music from the watch to headphones, around 10 percent of the charge was gone after 40 minutes. Transmission is carried out either via 2.4 GHz WLAN or via Bluetooth. Both were reliable and also fast in the test.
The assessment of sleep quality mostly seemed understandable to us. If you wake up feeling exhausted, you can tell. If desired, the clock starts the day after getting up with a “morning report” that can be configured within narrow limits. Depending on the default setting, there is the sleep data from the previous night, training recommendations for the day and the weather report. In addition, there are varying motivational sayings such as “Get the best out of yourself today”.
What’s quite interesting is that there are hardly any differences when it comes to recording running data compared to the significantly more expensive Fenix 7 Pro. The Forerunner 965 also provides an incredible amount of data and surpasses the Fenix 6 (test report) in terms of accuracy. Unlike these, the speed measurement hardly bends under a canopy of leaves.
The pulse measurement, which always takes a few minutes on my watch to display reliable values, is also faster here and feels closer to the truth. Measuring your pulse on your wrist will always be a second choice compared to a chest strap, but if you really need it, Garmin can use a strap for your upper body. There are various options available, the least expensive one costs 45 euros (price comparison).
Garmin Forerunner 965 – photo gallery
Garmin Forerunner 965 – photo gallery
The Forerunner 965 is aimed at runners, but it is by no means weak when it comes to other sports. It did just as good a job as the Fenix 7 (test report) when swimming. In detail, there may be a few fewer profiles installed, but there are probably very specific requirements that a Fenix meets but the Forerunner 965 does not.
32 GB of memory is installed internally, of which a little more than half can be used freely in the basic configuration. Music can be transferred via the Garmin app on the computer as well as via Explorer. It doesn’t work very quickly, but it’s uncomplicated. Maybe you feel the same way: I usually have a base of music with me when I run, which stays relatively constant. Podcasts in particular are changed regularly.
Garmin’s decision, as with the Fenix, to give the user the choice of whether they want to operate the watch via touchscreen or buttons is only to be welcomed – there are scenarios in which one variant has advantages for both. The screen responds quickly to input, sometimes even almost too sensitively. It also takes some time to get used to the menu structure. The watch offers so many functions that intuitive structuring reaches certain limits. This especially applies to the app on the cell phone, which can be used to carry out incredibly in-depth data analysis.
The Garmin Forerunner 965 has an impressive RRP of 650 euros. With a bit of luck, you can get the sports watch cheaper from online retailers. The sports watch is available in white in this country from just under 590 euros; in black, the Forerunner 965 costs around 599 euros. The version in lemon yellow costs 599 euros.
The top model of the Forerunner series impresses with a brilliant display and a range of functions that are typical of Garmin and are hardly inferior to those of a Fenix. It is slightly lighter than the comparably sized Fenix model and offers slightly less detail when it comes to profiles outside of running. But it is simpler and less bulky on the wrist. The AMOLED display has a high resolution, making it a pleasure to look at the watch. The Forerunner 955 with MIP display (memory in pixels), which is still available, appears pale and colorless in comparison, but offers a significantly longer battery life.
The most expensive Forerunner watch is aimed at dedicated runners who want to delve deep into data for analysis in order to train in a targeted manner. The 965 is an ideal supplier for this. Similar to the Fenix 7 Pro, this also outlines who is not part of the target group: interested parties who can get by with the usual training data such as distance, pulse and speed do not need a Forerunner 965. It is also only suitable to a limited extent as a smartwatch. It is primarily a sports watch, but among these it belongs to the absolute top class. She can’t do everything, but she can do a lot. And what she can do, she does excellently. In addition, despite the bright display, it lasts a surprisingly long time in everyday life. No comparison to watches from Apple or Google.