Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar Review

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar (1)

So today, I will review the brand-new Forerunner 955 Solar from Garmin, which has nearly all the features of Garmin’s high-end Fenix 7 line of sports watches, including a touchscreen and their multi-band satellite system mode. Plus, some new features surround health, fitness, and performance feedback that we haven’t seen before.

Buy On Amazon: Garmin Forerunner 955

I’ve been wearing the new Forerunner 955 Solar for about a month or so, and I’ll be going over everything you need to know about this Garmin new high-end running or triathlon watch. I’ve also got tons of data to share regarding how it performs your sport, like running on the road, biking, mountain biking, weight training, and swimming, just to give you a good idea if this device is going to be right for you.

Garmin is also launching the new Forerunner 255 and 255 music, and I’ve got another review for the Forerunner 255.

1.0 Features and Specs for Forerunner 955

So the new Forerunner 955 comes in two different versions, a 955 and a 955 Solar. And as you may have guessed, the Forerunner 955 Solar has solar charging capabilities to extend the battery life. They do this with a little ring surrounding the display, and the display has photovoltaic cells hidden to harness all the solar energy.

1.1 Battery Life

For battery life, the Forerunner 955 can get up to 15 days of battery life as a smartwatch without recording any outdoor activities. And then, with the solar version of the 955, you can increase that up to 20 days with enough solar exposure. For GPS, battery life for recording outdoor activities, you can get up to 42 hours for Forerunner 955 and then up to 49 hours for Forerunner 955 Solar with sufficient sun exposure with the standard GPS mode.

And if you’re using the new multi-band sidelight system mode, you can get up to 20 hours for 955 and then up to 22 hours with Forerunner 955 Solar.

1.2 Size and Design

The new Forerunner 955 is similar in size to the original Forerunner 945, with a 46.5-millimeter case. In contrast, the original line is just slightly larger at 47 millimeters, and the Forerunner 955 is larger than the 945 LTE, which has a 44.4 millimeters case.

And then for thickness, the case itself, without considering the heart rate sensor, is a bit thicker than the Forerunner 945 LT and the original 945. However, if we factor in the heart rate sensor’s height, they are similar in thickness. And while we’re looking at the back of the device, Forerunner 955 Solar has a slightly redesigned version of the fourth-generation elevate heart rate sensor, which now has a flat surface.

The back of the case surrounds the sensor, and we’ll see how accurate that sensor is later in the review. Then for the display, the Forerunner 955 has a 1.3-inch diameter display with a 260 by 260-pixel resolution, which is a bump from the 1.2-inch display with 240 by 240 pixels found on the original Forerunner 945 and the 945 LTE.

1.3 New Touch Screen

Other than solar charging, the further big hardware update is that Forerunner 955 now has a touch screen, which we saw come out on the Fenix 7 lines. The touch screen makes navigating the device much more accessible in some scenarios, mainly non-sports and fitness scenarios, like guiding through menus and widgets and stuff like that.

I’ve been a massive fan of physical buttons for years, but I have to say that it’s nice also to have the touch screen. And that’s the thing with the touch screen that it’s just an additional way of interacting with the device. It doesn’t replace any functionality, so you can still just use physical buttons if you’d like, and you can even turn the touch screen off altogether, but you can also turn it off in specific activities if you’d like.

Arguably the most significant advantage of the touch screen is when you’re using the map, where you can easily browse the map. And this is one area where it’s undoubtedly more challenging to use physical buttons.

1.4 Maps Functionality

So just like the original Forerunner 945 and the 945 LTE, the Forerunner 955 has full-blown topography and landscape maps. When you get it, it should have the maps for your region preloaded on the watch. Then you can download the maps for additional areas using the map manager tool on the watch itself via Wi-Fi.

But you can also do this by plugging it into your computer and using Garmin express, and I’d probably recommend this method much more because downloading maps over the Wi-Fi can take a while. Along with the topography and landscape maps, the Forerunner 955 also comes with worldwide golf maps and their new ski view maps, all pre-installed.

1.5 Storage

Forerunner 955 has a total of 32 gigabytes of onboard storage; you can use those for maps, music apps, and a whole bunch of other stuff. While we’re talking about music, the Forerunner 955 has the capability of downloading tracks for offline listening from popular music services, like Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon music. With that massive storage, you can store up to 2006 songs.

1.6 Display Notifications

On the smartwatch side of things, it can display notifications from apps. For example, it can alert you of calls and display text messages, and with an Android phone, you’ll be able to reply with pre-defined responses that you can choose in Garmin Connect.

Unfortunately, if you’re on an iPhone, you can receive those texts. Still, you won’t be able to reply, and that has everything to do with Apple, keeping the text reply functionality exclusive to the Apple Watch when you’re using an app.

2.0 Health, Fitness and Performance Features

So now on to the health, fitness and performance features, and we’ve got a lot to talk about here. So, the first thing we can talk about is HRV status.

2.1 HRV Data and Status

Heart rate variability, or HRV, has been around for some time. Still, recently it’s been gaining even more popularity as another tool to gauge your recovery status. Now, with the Forerunner 955, a new HRV status widget tracks your heart rate variability from the night before and your HRV trends over time.

This new set of data can help provide you with a better picture of your wellness and recovery. So, if your HRV status is balanced, things are probably daily and may also mean that you’ve been responding well to training. But, on the other hand, if your HRV status is unbalanced, or if you have a poor HRV status, that could mean that you need more rest, or there can be some other things going on that you need to take a look at.

2.2 Training Readiness

Next is a feature that utilizes HRV status, a new feature called training readiness. So, what training readiness does is it takes into account numerous factors, including your sleep from the night before, recovery time, HRV status, acute training load, sleep history, and stress history, and summarizes all that into one data for easy understanding.

A very low training readiness score might be caused by numerous factors, including poor sleep over the last week and a high recovery time for my previous workout. But recovery time does play a significant role in training readiness. So, as you can imagine, your training readiness could go higher as you recover more throughout the day. Unfortunately, this goes the other way around, where your readiness score will decline after your training.

So, taking a quick nap is recommended to ensure your readiness score increases after a workout. Anyhow, I think this is an excellent way of taking many of the data points they’ve been collecting for years, adding in our HRV status and coming up with an easier-to-understand metric for assessing your recovery, as well as how primed you are for training.

2.3 Sleep Tracking

The Forerunner 955 also has Garmin’s advanced sleep tracking, which can track your sleep stages, as we’ve seen before. But now, it also provides charts showing your sleep stages and sleeps score from the past seven days.

2.4 Training Status

Another thing new with the Forerunner 955 is they’ve revamped the training status algorithm. So now consider your HRV status, your view to the max and your acute training load over the last seven days, and other metrics like heat and algebra acclimation. So, your training status should be more meaningful.

Additionally, they’ve added a new training status called a strain, which could replace some of the unproductive training statuses you may have seen before with a status that indicates poor workouts. And then, just like the Forerunner 945 and the 945 LTE, the Forerunner 955 can estimate your running VO2 max and cycling VO2 max.

2.5 Visual Race Predictor

The Forerunner 955 also gets the new visual race predictor feature initially launched on the Fenix 7 and Epic sports watches. First, your device takes your training history and the VO2 max estimate to give you a target race time. Then, the device looks at your training data for a few weeks to better estimate how long the race will take.

Your estimated race times are shown for distances of 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon. At first, the predictions may seem wrong, and it will take a few runs for the device to figure out how well you run, and the algorithm will become more accurate with the more data it collects.

2.6 Morning Report

We have a new feature called morning report, a neat feature that collects a lot of the information you may want to see when you wake up.

There’s a unique watch screen that kind of greets you where it also displays the weather for the day, and it also shows your training readiness for the day, at least when you wake up because, again, that can change throughout the day.

It will show you today’s workout suggestion based on my readiness score. Also, it shows your sleep information from the night before, your HRV status, body battery intensity minutes for the week, a more detailed weather page, and steps goals. I have to say that I like this feature quite a bit because it collects a lot of the information that I want to see right when I wake up; rather than having to swipe through different widgets to find all that information, it’s just a little bit more convenient.

2.7 Running Power

Another new feature with Forerunner 955 is that it can natively collect running power with a compatible accessory, but this isn’t risk-based running power.

It would help if you still had a compatible accessory, like an RD, pod and atrium prone, HRM run to collect this information. These devices did collect data with previous Garmin devices that were running power compatible. But you had to go to the Connect IQ store, download the running power data field, and install that on your watch to get running power, which I thought was always a little bit strange.

When you pair up one of these accessories to automatically get running power, what’s interesting about this is that you will also be able to collect running power indoors on a treadmill. Still, it may not be as meaningful, though, because when you’re inside, you don’t have factors like winded elevation that can play a role in running power.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use a stride foot pod with Garmin’s native power implementation. However, a Stride foot pod still does work with the Forerunner 955. You have to download the Stride app from the Connect IQ store to make it work just like on the previous device.

2.8 New Race Widget

Then the Forerunner 955 also comes with some new race widgets where you can see your race calendar on the watch itself, including another widget that can highlight your primary race.

These aren’t just simple widgets that just show your race calendar. There’s a lot more to this. So, when you create events or races in your calendar and Garmin connect, you can choose many different options there, including the time and day of the event and the type of event you can associate with a specific course of the event.

Then, you can also choose the location of the race, the start time and then the distance. What you can do with this function is set a target time or pace for that race. When you look at your race calendar widget, it gives a countdown to your race, but here’s the neat part.

It also shows the predicted weather for that day and even down to the time of that race, based on the time you entered. But then, if you scroll down for running events, there’s even a specific visual race predictor there for just that race, along with a goal time that you set up previously. Here’s the thing, your race distance doesn’t need to be one of the standard race distances that are on the visual race predictor on the performance widget.

This can be any distance you want, automatically adjusting based on your previous training. Then finally, there’s another data page showing more detailed weather information, and we aren’t done with this. So, when you do enter a race into your race calendar, what it does is that it automatically adjusts your daily suggested workouts based on that race.

Yet another thing new is that it can also build out your daily suggested workouts for the week ahead, and on your race day, there’s even a special race-inspired background and the ratios up in your morning.

2.9 New Navigation Feature

The Forerunner 955 also gets a new navigation feature with the Fenix 7 and epics models. After creating a custom route in Garmin connect, you can add course points for different types of things like water, bathroom, fuelling reminders, shelters, and a host of other things of interest. So, during your activity, it will have these prompts during navigation giving you essential information, like the distance to the next.

2.10 Real-Time Stamina

The Forerunner 955 also comes with the new real-time stamina feature that came out with the Fenix 7. This new feature provides real-time feedback during training, showing your potential stammer and actual stamina. You can think of potential stamina as your long-term aerobic capacity and your real stamina as short-term anaerobic capacity.

And in general, both of these numbers will go down throughout your workout. In the case of something like intervals, what you can do is you can sprint like crazy, which will bring down your actual stamina, but once you stop and go to recover, it’ll bring up your actual stamina.

2.11Safety and Tracking Feature

The Forerunner 955 also has safety and tracking features like a live track where you can send the link to friends and family who can follow along with your activity. There’s also incident detection which can try to detect a crash or other unfortunate incident like that, as well as requesting assistance, where you can send an alert to one of your emergency contacts with your location.

But along with that, though, the Forerunner 955 also gets a feature that came out on the Forerunner 945 LTE called spectator messaging, where when you send a live trial link to someone, what they can do is also send messages to you directly during your workout. The difference here, though, is that with the Forerunner 945 LT, all those features worked without having to have your phone with you because the Forerunner 945 LT has a cellular connection. With the Forerunner 955, you will have to have your phone with you for all those features.

2.12 Activity Profiles

The Forerunner 955 comes with various activity profiles, including outdoor, indoor, and cycling profiles. In addition, they have many other profiles, from just a standard bike profile to road biking and mountain biking.

There’s also pool swimming, open water swimming, triathlon, plenty of outdoor recreation profiles, and many more, including golf.

2.13 New GPS Chip Set

The Forerunner 955 also comes with a new GPS chipset that can leverage more satellite systems, including GPS, glow, NAS, and Galileo, along with Baidu and QSI SS satellite systems. In addition, it also comes with their new multi-band all sidelight systems mode, which recently came out on the Fenix 7 and epic sports.

With this upgrade, you should get increased GPS accuracy in situations with a poor satellite signal, like around tall buildings, a lot of tree cover, rock faces, or something like that. Regarding how accurate it is, I had zero issues with it on the dozens of activities I’ve done over the last month, including running, mountain biking and road biking.

It was spot on with everything that I did, and then it performed well in terms of the finer detail of the GPS tracks, what I observed on the previous run, where there were a lot of curves and corners, and it was right on track. For some higher-speed activities like road biking, I sometimes see slightly overshoot on corners, but it is a minor mistake.

And then with mountain biking, where there can be a lot of tree cover and switchbacks, again, nothing to complain about as the GPS is super accurate. However, before we detail the accuracy, I also wanted to review how well the Forerunner 955 estimated distances for running indoors on a treadmill. It was extremely close on several tests that I did.

2.14 New Heart Rate Sensor Performance

The Forerunner 955 and 955 Solar also come with Garmin’s latest fourth-generation elevated heart rate sensor, and I’ve seen some pretty good results with the previous generation sensor and past devices. So, I have completed a 10 K run, and overall, it is pretty good throughout the run. Almost at the end of the run, there was this spot where it attracted a little high, but that was rather momentary, and then it was back in line.

Overall, excellent performance of the heart rate sensor. And then, for indoor cycling, we saw just a few spots where I wandered a little bit, but overall, I got a great result over the activity. Those activities I just showed are generally more leisurely for risk-based heart rate sensors to track accurately.

2.14.1 Road Biking

But now, let’s get into some more strenuous activities like road biking, mountain biking, and weight training. So, on this road right outside, this is an excellent result for a risk-based optical heart rate sensor with road biking. There are bumps in the street, and vibration from the handlebars can throw off these kinds of sensors.

2.14.2 Mountain Biking

The Forerunner 955 did a great job, and then with mountain biking, this activity is notoriously hard for risk-based optical heart rate sensors to track accurately. Again, it is because there’s a lot of jarring movement for rough terrain, which can make the watch bounce around on your wrist, as well as a lot of gripping motion, which can throw off these types of sensors.

But the Forerunner 955 was pretty respectable here. So, I observed that things were perfect for the first half of the ride, but then it wandered a bit at some places. But if we look at the elevation profile below that screen, you can also see where I started to descend, going down a rough trail.

This is where these kinds of sensors can start to get thrown off when there’s the potential for the watch to bounce around on your wrist. After that, it was more smooth rolling terrain where it caught back up. And then, at my final steep descent is where it started to wander again. But in the whole scheme of things, Forerunner 955 is excellent for mountain biking.

2.14.3 Weight Training

Weight training is probably one of the most demanding activities for a risk-based optical heart rate sensor to get right. Again, there’s a lot of gripping motion and erratic movement, but this was a good result for this type of activity. From my observation, there was a time the set right attracted a little low.

And then there was this set of tracks, a little bit behind the chest heart rate monitors, but overall, this is a very acceptable result for weight training, with a risk-based optical heart rate.

2.14.4 Pool Swimming

For pool swimming, the Forerunner 955 did a good job automatically tracking pool links and distance.

It also tracked all my intervals, including the rest periods in between. It also can identify a stroke time and has an auto-rest feature, separating your swim time from your rest time without interacting with the watch.

On the app side, the Forerunner 955 and 955 Solar also have Garmin’s new real-time settings sync feature, where you can edit activities, data pages, data fields, and a bunch more directly on the Garmin Connect app versus on the watch itself. This feature comes in pretty handy.

3.0 My Final Thought on Forerunner 955

So, if you’re a Forerunner 945 LTE owner, the good news is that some of the features that just came out of the Forerunner 955 will be ported to your device via software, so you don’t have to buy the new Forerunner 955 to enjoy the latest upgrades.

So, for some final thoughts, the Forerunner 955 is a super capable watch, very accurate, versatile and offered a lot for the money. Thanks so much for reading the review for Forerunner 955, and we will see you in the following review.