the Garmin Forerunner 965 And Advanced 265 They are two feature-packed sports watches that also notably include AMOLED displays. So, if you are looking for a sports watch that resembles a smartwatch, these are definitely two options to look into. They’re both great sports gadgets, worthy of inclusion in our best running watches and best Garmin watch guides, so which should you choose?
We’ve tested the 265 and 965 and consider them two of the best running watches you can buy right now, and it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on Garmin’s Black Friday deals to get one at a discount. So it’s understandable that you might look at both if you’re in the market for a new sports watch.
That’s why we’ve rounded up the key differences between the two and show you what you gain or lose when you use the Forerunner 965 instead of the Forerunner 265 and vice versa.
Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Garmin Forerunner 265: Specifications
|an item||Garmin Forerunner 965||Garmin Forerunner 265|
|price||$600 / £600 / AU$999||$449 / £429 / AU$770|
|Dimensions||47.1 x 47.1 x 13.2 (mm)||46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9 (mm)|
|Weight||52 grams||47 grams|
|Case/bezel||Titanium frame, plastic case||Fiber reinforced polymer|
|an offer||454 x 454 1.4 inch AMOLED touch screen||AMOLED screen with dimensions of 416 x 416 pixels, Corning Gorilla Glass|
|Global Positioning System||GPS, Beidou, GLONASS, Galileo, SATIC||GPS, Beidou, GLONASS, Galileo, SATIC|
|Battery life||23 days (31 hours GPS)||13 days (20 hours GPS)|
|communication||Bluetooth 5.2, ANT+, Wi-Fi||Bluetooth 5.2, ANT+, Wi-Fi|
|Waterproof?||Yes, 5 ATM||Yes, 5 ATM|
Garmin Forerunner 965 vs 265: Price and availability
Both the Garmin Forerunner 965 and 265 were announced and launched in March 2023, and are available directly through Garmin’s website as well as a range of other retailers. This includes Amazon, Best Buy and Argos.
The Forerunner 965 is the more expensive of the two, coming in at $599.99 / £599.99 / AU$999, while the Forerunner 265 and 265s (which we tested) come in at $449 / £429 / AU$770. Making it a big step up in price from its predecessor, the Garmin Forerunner 255.
The Garmin Forerunner 265 is the cheaper of the two, so it wins here, but you get more for your money with the 965, including a titanium frame and longer battery life.
Winner: Garmin Forerunner 265
Garmin Forerunner 965 vs 265: Design and display
The most noticeable difference between the looks of the 965 and 265 is the size. The 965 is the largest with a 47mm case. The 265 is actually a 265 and a 265, as it comes in two size options. The ‘s’ stands for small, with the 265s having a 41mm case while the 265 gets a larger 46mm case. So this model is closer in stature to the 965.
On the 965, you get a load of titanium in the frame while the 265 and 265 get a lighter polymer. You’ll also get removable silicone straps across the three watches, although the method for removing these straps varies between the two watches. The 965 uses Garmin’s 22mm QuickFit straps, while the 265 series uses quick-release straps and, as the name suggests, is quicker to remove.
Then we get to the displays. It’s AMOLED throughout, the same type of premium screen found in the Garmin Epix Pro, and these touchscreens can be set to always remain on. However, screen resolutions and sizes vary. The 965 has a larger 1.4-inch screen with a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels. The 265 has a smaller 1.1-inch display with a 360 x 360 resolution, while the 265 has a 1.3-inch display with a 416 x 416 resolution. Although the resolutions are different, the pixels are more compact on the smaller 265 and still It gives you a great overall experience in terms of bringing that pop of colour.
The level of protection offered on that screen also varies. On the 965 you have Corning’s Gorilla Glass DX while the 265 series has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection against scratches.
If you want to swim at these hours, you’re in luck. All three watches feature a 5ATM certified design, which means they are safe for submersion in water up to a depth of 50 metres.
Winner: Garmin Forerunner 965
Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Garmin Forerunner 265: Features
At their core, these watches are multi-sport watches with a strong affinity for running. It covers the same basic sports modes, which include swimming (pool and open water), cycling and golf, but it’s obviously when it’s running that it really shines, with all sorts of advanced metrics like training readiness score and Garmin Coach training plans.
They share a lot of the same features, so you get Garmin’s latest and most impressive multi-band mode on both to improve outdoor tracking accuracy when tracking near tall buildings or very wooded areas. Both include optical heart rate sensors and use Garmin’s Gen 4 Elevate sensor, which can also monitor blood oxygen saturation through this sensor array.
When you dig deeper into the supported sports profiles, the 965 has a bit of an upper hand on the exterior front. It offers profiles you won’t find on the 265 such as backcountry skiing, kayaking, tennis and pickleball. The 965 also covers gravel and road cycling to offer more in the Cycling Profiles section, ideal for triathletes.
One of the biggest areas that separate these watches is mapping and navigation. While you can load routes and use navigation-style navigation on all of these watches, the 965 also gives you pre-loaded topographic maps of roads and trails (see above) to allow you to view detailed maps on the watch and make better use of that AMOLED display to show off that extra detail.
There are differences in the training department too as the 965 additionally offers additional features such as heat and altitude acclimation and access to Strava Live Segments. Crucially, both offer Garmin’s new Training Readiness feature, which relies on heart rate variability, sleep and other metrics to help you understand when you should train or take a rest day and is a really useful feature for the Everyday counterpart.
Both can work like smartwatches and are compatible with Android and iOS. This gives you features like the ability to view notifications, Garmin Pay, and access to Garmin’s Connect IQ Store, all of which include a built-in music player with support for storing playlists for offline use from Spotify and Deezer. The 965 gives you more space than the 265 to store audio and apps with 32GB of storage compared to the 265’s 8GB of storage.
Winner: Garmin Forerunner 965
Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Garmin Forerunner 265: Performance and battery life
Garmin doesn’t tend to reveal what kind of processing is in its watches, but what we can say is that both work great. The touchscreens are responsive: you don’t have to wait long for a GPS signal before starting your rides, and tracking is generally solid across these watches.
Both can experience some slow download and installation times with apps while syncing music will also take some time. There are also some slightly clunky loading moments when using the set to 965, especially when you need to move to another area of the map.
When it comes to battery life, these watches are designed to last over a week, but this depends entirely on how regularly you track your training, use smartwatch features, and use power-intensive sensors like the Pulse Ox sensor. If you take into account the use of monitors in always-on mode, this number drops even further and takes less than a week.
The 965 promises up to 23 days in smartwatch mode compared to the 13 days (265) and 15 days (265) promised on the 265. If you decide to use watches with the higher GPS accuracy mode, the 965 goes up to 19 hours and that drops to 14 or 15 hours on the 265 and 265s. Ultimately, with a combination of features and tracking in use, these watches can consume up to a week of battery. Put the monitor on 24/7 and the 965’s battery will go down to less than a week and up to 5 days on the 265 and 265s.
Winner: Garmin Forerunner 965
Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Garmin Forerunner 265: Conclusion
These are two great multi-sport and running watches with high-quality AMOLED displays. While the inclusion of AMOLED results in a larger battery drain than Garmin’s pixel-reflective memory display watches (like the Forerunner 955), both can still muster generally enjoyable battery life.
The Forerunner 265 is a great sports watch with a basic tracking experience that’s not far off from what you get in the 965 albeit from a smaller form factor, so even though the 965 wins most of the above categories, it’s similar enough that you could opt for the 265 without a significant drop in the quality. The big gains with the 965 are full mapping features, more available storage, and some additional sport profiles, mainly for more specialized outdoor activities.
If you’re looking at these watches from a purely operational perspective, the 265 is a great buy and gives you enough of what you get in the 965 to ensure you save some money. If you want the best running watch Garmin has to offer, this is the 965.