Garmin's newest high-end wearable sports tracker might have the largest price tag we've seen to date but it's also packing the best screen and features, along with a battery that won't quit until some time after you do. If you're serious about your sport, this is what you should be wearing.
The newest model in Garmin’s premium running watch collection, the Garmin Forerunner 965 was launched in March 2023. Designed for runners, by runners, Garmin claims the Forerunner 965 is “purpose-built in both form and function to help athletes better plan, prepare, perform, and connect.” Receiving the watch just fourteen days before the Comrades was well timed as it significantly changed those vital few weeks of training leading up to the race. Let’s look deeper into the Forerunner 965’s features, design, performance, and value.
The Garmin 965, unlike its predecessor, comes only in one size, with a screen that measures 47.2mm. Athletes with smaller frames will find the watch is almost wider than their wrist. Initially, we thought this would be uncomfortable during the Comrades Marathon, but the larger watch was incredibly comfortable, and everything was just bigger and so much easier to see at a glance.
The other distinction between the Forerunner 965 and the Forerunner 955 is the titanium bezel which has been added without bringing significant extra weight to the 965. At only 54g the 965 remains sufficiently lightweight. The watch comes in a grey titanium and a standard titanium bezel. The grey titanium watches have either a black or funky yellow strap, while the titanium bezel ships with a white strap. All are priced the same (a wallet-walloping R14,000) and, like most Garmin watches the straps are interchangeable.
The watch features a touchscreen and five control buttons. Three are arrayed on the left and two on the right, making it simple to use and navigate. Garmin has made it easier for users to pause their runs by enlarging the start/stop button on the top right. From a runner’s perspective, fiddling with screen-touch prompts when you’re at the start line of a race can cause misstarts, stress, and an elevated level of annoyance at your all-important run tracking. The touchscreen is automatically disabled during activities, or you can turn it off entirely and just use the physical buttons.
Screen Face Lift
Garmin’s premium running watch has been given a facelift. It features a bright, beautiful AMOLED screen with a 454 x 545-pixel resolution. This bright screen enables you to see clearly in all light levels, as it automatically adjusts to ambient conditions. The data was clear and easy to see during the Comrades Marathon, particularly at the start when it was dark and in the latter stages of the race when fatigue was setting in. The clearer display was also large enough to fit more metrics on the screen and was easy to see at a glance, even in bright sunshine.
The Forerunner 965 supports up to six custom data fields per page and has no limit on the number of custom pages you can create per sport profile. There are additionally various stock graphical pages and gauge pages, like heart rate gauges, Stamina data pages, or a run power data gauge.
The Forerunner 965 lives up to Garmin’s reputation for offering devices with long-lasting batteries. The Forerunner 965’s battery life is equivalent to that of the Forerunner 955 even with the brighter screen. It has a battery life of up to 23 days when used only as a smartwatch. This drops to a 31-hour battery life when used solely for GPS and without any audio functions. It’s important to keep in mind that turning on the always-on display reduces the battery life in smartwatch mode to seven days. This still makes the Forerunner 965 a great option for multi-day excursions when you have no access to a charger as you’re basically choosing how long you’d like it to function for.
The new device also includes Garmin’s Morning Report, which gives you a summary each morning of how well you slept, how well you’ve recovered, and how hard you trained the day before, as well as extra information like the day’s weather. The report can be fully customised, and it gave us good luck messages in the run-up to Comrades before hiding any negative readiness data (because who sleeps well the night before a race?).
Sports Mode and Fitness Features
The Forerunner 965 supports a wide variety of sports modes. It’ll will keep you covered whether you’re exercising, swimming, cycling, playing golf, or engaging in a variety of other activities. Run, Treadmill, Bike, Pool Swim, Open Water Swim, Triathlon, Strength, Yoga, and many other modes are available, with precise information on distance, pace, heart rate, and other important metrics for each activity thanks to GPS and sophisticated sensors. The Forerunner 965 includes more sports modes than you will probably ever need. In fact, you’ll probably ignore most of them, but it’s reassuring to know that should you ever take up any of the activities your wristwear will be able to track it.
The Forerunner 965’s improved running dynamics offer comprehensive measurements, including cadence, stride length, vertical oscillation, and more. Running athletes can use these measures to examine their form and make adjustments to improve their performance and lower their risk of injury. The watch also supports more complex fitness routines, such as custom workouts, interval workouts, and training schedules which are created using Garmin Coach. With these characteristics, the Forerunner 965 is an invaluable tool for coaches and runners at all levels.
Maps and Navigation
With the Forerunner 965’s integrated GPS and GLONASS satellite navigation, the distance of our Comrades Marathon participation was accurately recorded. Additionally, the watch includes navigational tools like course direction which was useful for planning new shorter routes during the taper week of Comrades. The colourful AMOLED screen, which is used to display the maps, makes them simple to read and navigate. The functionality of the watch is further increased by Garmin’s Connect IQ platform, which gives you access to a huge selection of individualized apps, data fields, and watch faces.
Garmin Forerunner 965 verdict
The Forerunner 965 is one of the most premium Garmin models in the market right now. It provides high-end features, offers reliable performance, and supports a robust sporty design. Its vast range of health and fitness functions, advanced running dynamics, and numerous sports modes make it a worthwhile investment for serious athletes even though its price sits far above that of entry-level running watches. The Forerunner 965’s lengthy battery life and sturdy design won’t let you down even during ultra events like the Comrades Marathon and it excels at providing precise health and fitness information. Whether you’re training for a marathon or are ready to start taking fitness more seriously, you’re going to want to check out the new Garmin Forerunner 965.
This review was written by Lianne Rey and edited by Brett Venter