Garmin Forerunner 255 Music Review

How’s it going, folks? First, I will review the brand-new Garmin Forerunner 255 Music, the successor to the super popular 445 that came out over three years ago. And although this is an update to the 245 with the feature set that this watch has, it basically replaces the Garmin Forerunner 745.

Buy On Amazon: Garmin Forerunner 255 Music

And these are features many of us wanted, like an altimeter, full triathlon support, more training feedback, and even the new multi-band satellite system mode that just came out with the high-end Fenix 7 line of watches and even more. So, I’ve been wearing the Garmin Forerunner 255 Music for about the last month or so. In this review, I’ll be going over everything this watch has to offer, including all the new health features, sports or fitness features, and smartwatch features.

I’ve also got boatloads of data to share regarding how accurate the Garmin Forerunner 255 Music is in tracking sports like running both inside and outside, cycling both inside and out, pool swimming, and weight training. To give you a good idea of this device, whether it will be right for you. Garmin Forerunner 255 Music isn’t the only new watch that Garmin’s launching. Garmin is also launching their new 955 and 955 solar. And I’ve also got another in-depth review of this watch and a video comparing the 255 to the 955.

Sizes Option for Garmin Forerunner 255 Music

Some of the different options you have with the Garmin Forerunner 255 Music, and first, up there are two different sizes, a larger 255 with a 45.6-millimeter diameter case and a 255S with a smaller 41-millimeter case. So, what they’ve done here is make a version that’s slightly bigger than the original 245 and a version that’s a bit smaller.

But then we also have music versions 255 in both sizes. So, the music versions can store and playback music directly from the watch itself, without you needing to have your phone nearby. You can do this with music services like Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, and Deezer.

Design for Garmin Forerunner 255 Music

And then for the design, it’s essentially very similar to the original 245, but I noticed that it’s a little bit more streamlined because the buttons are a little bit less pronounced, but they’re still easy to find and use.

However, the latest fourth-generation elevated heart rate sensor is the most significant difference you’ll notice on the outside when you flip them over and on the back. And just to give you a little bit of a spoiler, I’ve had excellent results with a heart rate sensor on this watch with all the testing I’ve been doing and more details on that later in the review.

Battery Life for Garmin Forerunner 255 Music

And then, they’ve really upped the ante with a new 255 versus the previous generation for battery life. So, the larger Garmin Forerunner 255 Music can get up to two weeks in smartwatch mode without recording any outdoor activities versus the previous generation, which could only get up to seven days. And then, for GPS battery life, you can get up to 30 hours of recording time on the larger 255 versus 24 hours on the original 245.

Features of Garmin Forerunner 255 Music

So, before we get into the new health, fitness and sports features, let’s quickly go over these smartwatch features. So just like the previous generation, Forerunner 245, the Forerunner 255 can show the weather and calendaring information from your smartphone.

And you can also receive notifications from apps, texts, and calls, and for texts on an iPhone, you can receive notifications and view them on the watch itself, but you won’t be able to reply. And that has everything to do with Apple, unfortunately and not Garmin. By the way, Apple just likes to keep text message and reply functionality exclusive to the Apple Watch.

However, if you’re using the Garmin Forerunner 255 with an Android phone, you can reply with pre-defined responses. You can set it up in the Garmin connect app. As I mentioned before, the music versions of the Forerunner 255 have offline music storage and playback. However, the non-music version still can control the music playing on your phone if it’s nearby, but now onto the health, fitness and sports features.

New Heart Rate Sensor

So, Garmin Forerunner 255 Music comes with Garmin’s latest fourth-generation elevated heart rate sensor that you can monitor your heart rate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also has an SPO2 sensitive for monitoring your blood oxygen saturation levels. It also has Garmin’s advanced sleep tracking, which can give you a sleep score and provide information on your sleep stages throughout the night.

Data Screens for Sleep Widget

In addition, they’re also rolling out a few new data screens on the sleep widget, where you can see the trends of your sleep stages and your sleep score over the last seven days. The Forerunner 255 also comes with Garmin’s health snapshot feature, which can collect multiple health metrics at once, including your heart rate, stress level, SPO2 level, and respiration rate.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Status

But now, let’s get into a brand-new feature to come with the Forerunner 255, and this also comes with the new 955, a new feature called HRV status. So, your HRV status can be balanced, which is probably what you want to see. Balanced HRV means that things are running normally and that you’re responding well to the training.

But then there’s also unbalanced as well as poor HRV status. It could mean that you need more rest or some other things are going on through your health, which could use some attention. Then from there, you can also see your HRV in chart format from the last night’s sleep, including the average and the highest point during the night. Finally, you can also see your average HRV trends in the previous seven days to see if anything is out of the ordinary.

And then, of course, you can view your HRV historical data in Garmin. HRV has been around for quite some time, but recently it has been getting a lot of popularity, so it’s nice to see them integrate this feature. HRV is also playing a role in their new training status, which has been updated, and we’ll talk about that here in just one bit.

Morning Report

Another new thing to come with the Forerunner 255 is a feature called your morning report. I got to say it is a pretty great feature. So, what happens is that when you wake up, there’s this new unique screen that kind of greets you are showing the weather for the day, along with a fun background and what your morning report will give you is a, basically a breakdown of your day as well as your last night.

So, the first screen shows my daily suggested workout. The next screen shows my sleep from the night before, and the following screen shows my HRV status. Next is my body battery status, and then there’s a more detailed weather report for the day. In addition, there’s some other data you can show, such as your intensity minutes for the week and steps.

Once you’re done viewing your morning report, you can just take on the day as they put it. I think this feature is great because before I woke up, I had to scroll to different widgets to access all this information. And now it’s just all in one place, and you can edit what information is shown in your morning report.

Altimeter Function

So, for fitness features, the Forerunner 255 can track your steps and intensity minutes, just like the previous generation Forerunner 245, but with the 255, it now has an altimeter. So, you can also track your floor’s climb throughout the day as an additional. In addition, since the Forerunner 255 does have an altimeter, you also will be able to see your total elevation gain and loss for outdoor activities.

Running Power Data

And yet another new feature to come with a 255, since it has an altimeter, is that it can natively collect running power with a compatible accessory. So, you’ll be able to do this with an HRM Pro and RD, pod and HRM run, or an HRM. Running power is an interesting data point that has gained much popularity in recent years.

And what it aims to do is provide just another way of assessing your effort during a run beyond just heart rate and pace. I think Garmin is calling this native running power, but all this means is that you don’t have to go to the Connect IQ store and download the running power data field to collect this data.

So previously, with watches that did support running power, what you had to do is that you had to go to the Connect IQ store. You have to download the running power data field. You got to install it on the watch, and then you can collect the running power data. When you pair up one of these compatible accessories, you automatically collect the running power data.

And then, for another feature, it will also collect running power while running on a treadmill. But it may not be entirely as accurate as what you’ll get outdoors because there will be other variables such as wind and elevation. So that can be a factor, but it’s there. Unfortunately, for those curious, it doesn’t work with Garmin’s native running power implementation, but football still does work with the Forerunner 255.

You just have to go to the Connect IQ store and download the Stripe app to make that work. And then, for training and performance feedback, the 255 can estimate your running VO2max, just like the 245, but with the 255. Well, you’ll also be able to get an estimate on your cycling view to backs because 255 now at cycling power meter support as an external accessory, which wasn’t available on the 245.

Visual Race Predictor

Then, the Garmin Forerunner 255 also gets Garmin’s new visual race predictor feature. This feature was first rolled out on their high-end Fenix 7 line of watches. And here’s where you can see how your runs over the last four weeks factor into possible race times that you could achieve for standard race distances.

And then we also have training status, which was available on the 245, but they’ve revamped it a bit with the Forerunner 255. So, training status indicates where you’re at, based on your current view to max estimate acute training load, which is your training history over the last seven days.

But since the Forerunner 255 also collect your HRV. It also factors that into your training status and then for training features along with Garmin Coach, which you can use for training plans; they’ve also added some new race widgets that can show your race calendar along with another widget shows your primary race.

These aren’t just as simple as just showing events in your calendar. There are a lot more things going on behind this. So, as an example, I have a couple of races on my race calendar that I created in Garmin Connect. Of course, you can do this for lots of activities like running, cycling, and more, but here’s what’s neat is that you can also enter the location for these events when you create them.

And if you do so, it’ll pull the weather information for the date and time of the event. So, you can plan ahead and then you can do that too. If you have multiple races in your calendar, you can set one of them as your primary event. And it’ll show up in the primary race widget, and here’s where you can see your countdown to the upcoming race.

In addition to running, it will give you a visual race predictor screen with a predicted time based on your previous training. So your event doesn’t need to conform to one of the standard race instances like 5k, 10K and half marathon.

You can scroll down one more screen for more detailed weather information. But if we go back to another screen, this gets us to another new feature: the Forerunner 255 can build out your daily suggested workouts up to a week ahead, whether you have an event or not in your calendar. And then, for one final thing surrounding this on your race date, your morning report background will change to a race-inspired theme.

Garmin’s Up Ahead Feature

So, the Forerunner 255 also load in routes for basic navigation, but it also comes with Garmin’s up ahead feature. So when you create a path in Garmin connect, what you can do here is also add course points along your route for certain things like bathrooms, shelters, food, hydration reminders, or a host of other things of interest.

What happens is that during your activity, when you load in that route for navigation, it will give you cues to the following Course Point. Forerunner 255 also includes plenty of safety tracking features like a live track, where you can send a link to your friends and family who can fall along with your outdoor activity.

There’s also going to be incident detection, where it can attempt to detect a crash and then send an alert to one of your emergency contacts and request assistance from one of your emergency contacts. But just note that you must have your phone with you for these features because the Forerunner 255 will use your phone’s cellular connection to send out those.

Activity Profiles

For activity profiles, the Forerunner 255 comes with a bunch of activity profiles, like all the normal ones that you’d expect, like running and cycling, indoors and outdoors. In addition, it has plenty of gym profiles, like pool swimming, weight training, high-intensity interval training, yoga breath work and more.

But the biggest news about activity profiles on the Forerunner 255 is that it now comes with an open water swimming profile and a triathlon mode. Before this, you had to get into the Forerunner 745 board to get this. So, this is a significant upgrade here for the Forerunner 255. And along with that, since the 255 has an altimeter, you also get additional profiles like the floor climb profile and the ski and snowboard activity profiles, which can automatically track your runs throughout the day.

Upgraded Satellite Systems

And yet another new thing to come with the Forerunner 255 that was just introduced with the high-end Fenix 7 and epic sports watches is that the Forerunner 255 can now leverage more satellite systems than they were before.

So with the Forerunner 245, that could leverage GPS Galileo and cologne as satellites. Still, with the Forerunner 255, it can leverage all of those and Baidu and QSI S S sidelight systems. So, you just have more coverage, but not only that but the 2 55 also has the new dual-band satellite system mode, where it’s able to leverage multiple satellite systems on different frequencies at the same time.

The upgraded satellite utilisation system aims to do is increase GPS accuracy. This accuracy is beneficial in places with many overhead obstructions like buildings, rock faces, or tress. For the accuracy, it’s spot on regarding total distances. I tested this with many different activities, like running a road, biking, and mountain biking.

It was aligned with some of the other devices that I consider to be very accurate. I think the GPS tracks were super reliable, and these are some of the most accurate tracks I’ve ever seen. So, on the test run, it was spot on the entire time and then for mountain biking, where you will be under a lot of tree cover and switchbacks, which can sometimes pose problems for GPS; it performed flawlessly.

One thing to note about this multi-band all satellites distance mode is that it produces some super crispy GPS tracks, but it also uses more battery life than the other GPS modes. From my observation, it’s not like the different GPS modes are less inaccurate; I still got outstanding results.

Even out of the older Forerunner 245, this multi-band all satellites instance mode will be advantageous in challenging situations like I mentioned before, like tall buildings, tree cover and rock faces. So, unless you’re in one of those situations or if you’re just getting wonky GPS, for some reason or another, you could probably just use one of the other modes and save on battery life.

Treadmill Data Accuracy

And then for treadmill accuracy, as in how well the Forerunner 255 estimated running distances indoors. Well, it was spot-on based on the test run we have done. You also can adjust and calibrate the distance when you go to save your run. For pool swimming, the Forerunner 255 can automatically track distance, as well as your laps, without you having to interact with a watch at all.

So, it also has automatic stroke detection, which is fine and can automatically detect rest periods in between. Okay, so now on to the accuracy for the upgraded heart rate sensor.

Heart Rate Sensor Accuracy

So, the Forerunner 255 comes with Garmin’s fourth-generation elevated heart rate sensor, and in terms of accuracy, this performs quite well. And I’ve got tons of examples for you here, from activities generally easier for these types of sensors to track, like indoor cycling and running, to actions that tend to pose more challenges like weight training, as well as mountain biking.

Outdoor Running

So, let’s start with some running and from my observation from this run, it was pretty much spot-on for the entire run. There were a couple of spots here and there that attracted a few beats per minute high, and then a couple of spots at the tail end of the workout wandered ever so slightly, but this is an extremely good result.

Treadmill Run

And then, on this treadmill run for nearly the entire run, it was spot on, but it did have some moments at the end of my run where I attracted a little bit. And then for indoor cycling again, quite good overall, and not too much to complain about a couple of little blips here and there, but we’re talking about just a few beats per minute off.

Road Biking

So, nothing to worry about, but now let’s get into some activities that pose more challenges for risk-based heart rate sensors. And we’ll first start with some road biking outside, where we introduce vibrations of bumps in the road, which can throw off these types of sensors. But as you can see, the Forerunner 255 did an excellent job.

There were a couple of spots where it dipped slightly and then a couple of moments at the end where it read a little bit high, but overall, this is quite a good result for road biking with a risk-based optical heart rate.

Mountain Biking

Next, let’s get into mountain biking, and this is where we start to introduce a lot more variables, like gripping onto the handlebars, as well as a lot of rough terrains, which can make the watch bounce around the wrist, which can pose challenges for these types of risk-based optical heart rate sensors.

But the test result is pretty good results. So, there was a little weirdness at the beginning where it took a minute or so to lock on. But after that, it was right in line for quite some time. Most of this ride was on rolling terrain and some climbing, which we can see for about the first three-quarters of the ride.

At the point where I started to go downhill, this is also when accuracy tends to go downhill for these types of sensors where you can see some issues like here and there where it wandered more than what we saw before. But, even though that’s to be expected, the Forerunner 255 still did an excellent job handling it and stayed close to the other side.

Weight Training

And then we get some weight training, arguably one of the most challenging activities for these risk-based heart rate sensors to track. And here’s where we can see more variants, but in the whole landscape of risk-based heart rate sensors, this is bad; there were some sets where the Forerunner 255 tracked a bit high and a little bit low at certain times.

But still, the fact that the Forerunner 255 was, for the most part, on track for most of the workout is pretty decent.

Real-Time Setting Sync Feature

On the app side, the Forerunner 255 also comes with Garmin’s new real-time setting sync feature. So you’ll be able to edit settings in real-time on the app, like activities, data, screens, data fields, and so much more, which can be much more convenient on the app than the watch itself.

My Final Thought

So, for some final thoughts, the previous generation Forerunner 245 was a super capable watch and offered a lot for the money, but with the Forerunner 255, they kind of went bonkers with it and decided just to throw in a ton of new stuff. So, for the price, the base level Forerunner 255 without music comes in at $349, and the Forerunner 255 with music comes in at $399.

That is considerably more than the Forerunner 245 was when it came out. However, what needs to be considered is you should compare the feature set that the Forerunner 255 has to the former Forerunner 745.

Thanks for reading my review for Garmin Forerunner 255, and see you next time.

Buy On Amazon: Garmin Forerunner 255 Music
(As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases)