Garmin Forerunner 265 vs 965: Should Pay More?

Forerunner 265 vs 965

Today, I will compare the Garmin Forerunner Series 265 and 965 smartwatches, both of which were launched in March 2023. They boast several new additions, including an AMOLED display and a wide array of sports and fitness tracking features, making them an excellent choice for sports enthusiasts.

I have personally used both of these watches for several weeks, and in this comparison, I will share my experiences with them and outline the key differences between the two. This information will be extremely valuable in assisting you to make a well-informed choice.

Forerunner 265 Forerunner 965
Forerunner 265Forerunner 965
Buy NowBuy Now
Pros Pros
Budget Friendly.
Decent Display.
Reliable Outdoor Tracking.
Available in two sizes.
Titanium Build.
Larger, Better Display.
Longer Battery Life.
32GB Storage.
Extended Activity Profiles.
GroupTrack Feature.
Cons Cons
Fewer Advanced Training Metrics.
Average battery life.
No Size Variation.


Forerunner 265 Forerunner 965
Size 46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9 mm 47.2 x 47.2 x 13.2 mm
Weight 47 g53 g
Build materialfiber-reinforced polymertitanium and fiber-reinforced polymer
Display type AMOLED AMOLED
Display size and resolution 1.3 inch (416 x 416 pixels)1.4 inch (454 x 454 pixels)
Water Rating 5 ATM5 ATM
Memory 8GB32GB
Touchscreen YesYES


Both the Forerunner 265 and 965 are mid-range smartwatches, but there is a $150 price difference between them. The Forerunner 265 is priced at $449.99, whereas the 965 is available at $599.99.


Forerunner 265 vs 965 Design & Display

The design of both watches combines sleek and sporty looks. The Forerunner 265 is available in two sizes, 46.1mm and 41.7mm. If your wrist is slightly smaller, the last option will be better for you. However, in the case of the Forerunner 965, there is no other option available except for the 47.2mm model.

The build quality is solid for both, with the 265 having a full plastic body that makes it lightweight. On the other hand, the 965 also has a plastic body, but it features titanium bezels, giving it a premium feel and added durability.


Both of them have excellent AMOLED displays. In the 965, you get a larger display with better resolution, which results in better detail visibility.

The 265 is not a bad option either; it also has a very clear and readable display. However, if you opt for the 265S, you will notice a difference in it because it features a 1.1-inch display with a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels.

Both of them have Gorilla Glass support on their displays, so the risk of scratches is relatively low even with heavy use. However, the 265 features Gorilla Glass 3, whereas the 965 comes with Gorilla Glass 3 DX, which is slightly more durable.

They both come with a 5 ATM Water Resistance rating, which means you can wear them while showering and swimming without any concerns.

Looking at the buttons, both watches have a total of 5 buttons, with 3 buttons on the left and 2 buttons on the right. These buttons also feel very tactile and responsive.

The straps come in a dual-color tone, making them quite comfortable to wear, and if you wish, you can also replace them with other bands.

Battery Life

Both smartwatches offer impressive battery life, ranging from 4 days to 2 weeks, depending on your watch settings and the features you use.

I have mentioned the battery life specifications for both watches below so that if you like any model, you can have an idea of their battery life Properly.

ModesForerunner 965 Forerunner 265
Smartwatch modeUp to 23 daysUp to 13 days
Always On ModeUp to 7 DaysUp to 5 Days
GPS-only mode without musicUp to 31 hoursUp to 20 hours
SatIQ (AutoSelect) GNSS modeUp to 22 hoursUp to 16 hours
All-Systems GNSS mode + multi-bandUp to 19 hoursUp to 14 hours
GPS-Only GNSS mode with musicUp to 10.5 hoursUp to 7 hours
SatIQ (AutoSelect) GNSS mode with musicUp to 9.5 hoursUp to 6.5 hours
All-Systems GNSS mode + multi-band with musicUp to 8.5 hoursUp to 6 hours

If I share my personal experience, using both of them in Always on Display mode, I was able to comfortably use them for around 4 days with the 265 model and 6 days with the 965 model.

I also used the GPS mode, and the battery life I get was quite close to Garmin’s claimed time, which is a very good thing.

Smart Features

Forerunner 265 vs 965 Smart features

Both watches have almost the same smart features, such as receiving notifications for text messages, calls, and other apps on your phone. You can also view Weather information and Calendar events on them.

For Android users, both of them offer the feature of customized responses through the Garmin Connect app. In addition, they have Garmin Pay, and music streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music.

Additionally, both watches have storage for offline music, with a slight difference. The 265 has 8GB of storage, while the 965 offers 32GB of storage. So, if you prefer downloading and listening to music offline, the 965 is the better choice as it allows you to store up to 2000 songs.

Health & Safety Tracking

Forerunner 265 vs 965 Health Tracking

Talking about health tracking, both the Garmin Forerunner 265 and 965 feature highly accurate sensors that effectively monitor your heart rate and blood oxygen levels. In addition, they track daily steps, floors climbed, and intense activity minutes.

Both of them also have the Body Battery feature, which is based on your activities and sleep, providing you with information about your energy levels. They also offer sleep tracking to monitor your sleep stages.

They also include some safety tracking features, such as Live Track, which shares a real-time activity link with your family so they can keep track of you and have peace of mind.

And in case of an emergency situation during your activity, they have incident detection that automatically alerts your selected contacts. They also feature an assistance feature that manually sends an alert to your emergency contact with your location details.

The Forerunner 965 takes it a step further by offering the GroupTrack feature. If your group also has Garmin devices with GroupTrack capability, you can see their locations on the map while recording outdoor activities.

Training Feedback

Forerunner 265 vs 965 Fitness Tracking

Both watches have VO2 Max measurements for running and cycling, along with excellent metrics such as heart rate variability trends, lactate threshold details, Training Status, and Fitness Age for training feedback.

Additionally, both watches feature a Training Readiness function, which essentially tells you how ready you are for your next training session.

These watches are designed specifically for runners, which is why they come with advanced running dynamics. These dynamics include vertical oscillation, vertical ratio, ground contact time, and wrist-based running power data points.

They also offer a race predictor feature that estimates how long it will take for you to complete a running distance based on your training history. There’s also Pace Pro, which allows you to create a pacing plan for a specific race, distance, or course, and the watch will guide you in achieving your targeted running pace.

However, the 965 model takes it to the next level with some advanced metrics, including altitude acclimation and heat acclimation, Power Guide, and Real-Time Stamina features.

It also includes new training metrics like Endurance and Hill Score, which you’ll only find in Garmin’s high-end watches.

If you are a professional runner who wants to track and improve your training and performance, both of these watches offer all the necessary tracking features. However, if you desire some additional data points, then the 965 is the ideal option for you.

Activity Profile

Both smartwatches offer a wide range of activity profiles, but the 965 stands out with its additional and exclusive profiles. This makes it an excellent choice for those who want to monitor various activities in their fitness journey. I’ve listed the common profiles available in both watches and the activity profiles unique to the 965 below for a more detailed comparison.

Similar Activity Profiles: – 

GYM ACTIVITY PROFILESStrength, HIIT, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing, Pilates, Yoga
RUNNING PROFILESRunning, Outdoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running, Virtual Running, Ultra Running
OUTDOOR RECREATION PROFILESHiking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Classic Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Tennis, Padel, Pickleball.
SPORT PROFILESAmerican Football, Field Hockey, Ice Hockey, Soccer/Football, Lacrosse, Rugby, Ultimate Disc, Cricket, Softball, Baseball, Basketball, Volleyball
CYCLING PROFILESBiking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking, eBiking, eMountain Biking
SWIM PROFILESPool Swimming, Open Water Swimming

Only on 965: – 

GYM ACTIVITY PROFILESIndoor Climbing, Bouldering,
OUTDOOR RECREATION PROFILESClimbing, Backcountry Skiing, Backcountry Snowboarding, XC Skate Skiing, Kayaking, Snowshoeing, Mapping, Navigating, Padel, Track Me, Project Waypoint, Disc Golf
CYCLING PROFILESRoad Biking, Gravel Biking, Bike Commuting, Bike Touring, Cyclocross

Outdoor Tracking

Both the 265 and 965 feature a multi-band satellite chipset, which provides access to multiple satellite systems and allows the use of two different satellite frequencies. This capability enables them to accurately track even in challenging environments.

They have Auto Select and SAT IQ modes, which automatically switch between different satellites based on the signal quality in your location. This helps conserve battery life.

There is no difference in this factor between the two; if you’re only looking for a watch for outdoor tracking, save your money and purchase the 265.

Maps and Navigation

Forerunner 965 map

Only the 965 model has maps. It features a Topo landscape map similar to Google Maps, showing street and trail names, landmarks, topographical information, and more. With this map, you can use the “Around Me” feature to navigate points of interest around your current location.

Regarding navigation, both watches allow you to import routes, and the 265 offers breadcrumb-style routes for navigation, which is good. However, the 965’s map provides more accurate location and route information, making it a better choice. Both watches also have a “Back to Start” feature, which guides you back to your starting point.

In the 965, you’ll find advanced routing features like the “Round-Trip Course Creator,” “Climb Pro,” and “Live Segment.”


To conclude this comparison, there are significant differences between the Garmin Forerunner 265 and 965, whether it’s about durability, training feedback, or other features. However, the feature that truly sets the 965 apart is its map. If you heavily rely on navigation during your activities, then the 965 is the best choice.

But I can’t overlook the 265 either because it offers a good feature set at a good price point, making it a sufficient and budget-friendly option for many users when compared to the 965.

Now, the decision to invest an extra $150 in the 965 depends on your personal needs. I would say that it’s worth the additional expense only if you can fully utilize the extra capabilities of this watch.

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