This is our first impression of the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar. We’ve gone hands-on with the brand new watch (and its smaller sibling, the 255s) to give you a comprehensive overview of its features, and an early idea of what we think of it.
Although we’ve got the watch in our hands and on our wrists, we’ve not yet had a chance to test all its features for ourselves, so please check back in the coming days and weeks for a full and thorough review. However, from our brief time with it, it’s likely to land in our list of the best garmin watches very soon.
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar: Price and release date
The Garmin Forerunner 955 is out now, with one version packing a Power Glass solar charging lens, which helps extend the Forerunner’s battery life, and another version without the solar lens.
The 955 Solar is priced at $599.99 in the US (opens in new tab), and £549.99 in the UK (opens in new tab), with no Australian prices yet listed. The Forerunner 955 without a solar option costs $499.99 in the US and £479.99 in the UK.
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar: Design
The watch feels suitably hefty and rugged, and I’m not worried at all about taking it on the roughest adventures. It’s also comfortable on the wrist, coming as it does with a soft silicone strap perfect for swims (the watch, as you’d expect from a product geared towards triathletes, is 5ATM water resistant). The Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar shares a lot of design DNA with many of Garmin’s classic features, such as the metal casing and five-button functions.
Anyone who’s used a Garmin watch like the previous Forerunners, the Epix or Enduro will be familiar with the button setup: up, down and ‘light’ buttons on one side, and a ‘confirmation’ and a ‘back’ button on the other.
Like the higher-end Fenix watches, Garmin has also added a touchscreen here. This is my first touchscreen Garmin, and so far I’m finding the combination of buttons and touchscreen unnecessary. I mainly end up using the buttons to navigate, but perhaps this is one of those situations where, given enough time, it’ll feel more intuitive to switch between maps with a finger-swipe and use the buttons to navigate the list. However, as is, I can’t help but wonder what else they could have put in there instead of a touchscreen.
The solar charging is sure to be great. As a user of the Garmin Enduro for the last month, I’ve yet to put it back on charge, and I can’t stop gushing overhow seamlessly the Power Glass lens is able to do the job in a watch so stuffed with, well, other stuff. The battery of the Forerunner only lasts 20 days rather than the Enduro’s 50, but still: if you loathe charging your smartwatch every few days, this is going to be one of the best multi-sport watches you can buy.
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar: Features
The Garmin Forerunner 955 is full of just as many fitness features as the other premium Garmin watches, such as the Enduro and Epix ranges. To start with, the GPS promises to be more accurate than ever, with multi-band offering tracking across several different satellite systems. As a result, the Forerunner 955 Solar has the power to make full use of Garmin’s extensive GPS capabilities.
You can set routes with turn-by-turn directions, so you don’t have to stop to think about where to turn next. Like other Garmins before it, you can set yourself distance and time targets with the accompanying Garmin Connect app. One feature we’re really excited to try out is inputting a distance, and then having the Forerunner automatically calculate a circular route, guiding us through it. PacePro and ClimbPro offer on-route guidance, warning you in advance about challenging hills and elevations.
However, none of this is particularly new. What is new is some of Garmin’s innovative new software features such as HRV status, which provides detailed information of how your heart rate varied while you sleep, leading to more accurate sleep tracking overall. It forms part of the Training Readiness score, a revamped feature from previous models which acts like Polar’s Nightly Recharge or Fitbit’s Daily Readiness score, offering you a simple colored gauge to show you how ready for hard training you are.
Both these widgets are easily accessed in Garmin’s main widget menu by default, but they’re also served up to you in the Morning Report, a wrist-mounted morning digest including the upcoming weather, your sleep patterns for the previous night, and your Training Readiness score.
Putting all the information into one place is a good idea, but getting push notifications with sleep updates could end up being counter-intuitive. If you’re not in a position to alter your behavior based on the previous night’s sleep, or you have a big race coming up and you’re pushed a poor Training Readiness score, it could lead to unwanted anxiety. Nevertheless, you have the ability to disable the feature if you don’t want the notification every morning.
I won’t include our usual “Buy it if” and “Don’t buy it if” sections here, as I’m yet to give it a full verdict. However, I can safely say I’m impressed with the way it looks and feels so far, and the specs list is undeniably impressive. Let’s hope the watch’s performance is up to the task.