Garmin Forerunner 165 vs 165 Music – Which Model is Better?

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The Forerunner 165 is the latest addition to the long list of Garmin watches. It is a lightweight GPS smartwatch that’s sturdily built and well-equipped to track your daily activities. Joining the growing list of Garmin watches with AMOLED display, the Forerunner 165 has a colorful AMOLED display plus 4GB storage capacity that allows for onboard music storage and it boasts up to 11 days of battery life.

The Forerunner 165 is not a successor to the Forerunner 55, nor is it on the same rank as the Forerunner 265, it’s actually a whole new model that falls in between the Forerunner 55 and 265. It comes in only 43mm case size but is available in two models; a music and a non-music version. In this post, I’ll discuss the difference between the Forerunner 165 Music and the non-music version.

Forerunner 165 vs 165 Music - Main Difference
Forerunner 165 vs 165 Music – Main Difference

In a few words, there is absolutely no difference between the music and non-music version. Both have the same design, display, features and battery life. However, as the name indicates, the music version is equipped with 4GB storage that will allow you to download music to the watch which you can listen to offline. In contrast, the non-music version has the same features as the music model but you can’t add music to the watch. As a result, the non-music model costs $249 while the Forerunner 165 music edition costs $50, that’s $50 more for onboard music storage.

Is it worth it? It’s totally up to you and depending on your budget. Personally, I see watches without onboard music storage capability as useless, a major reason why I’m a huge fan of Galaxy and Apple watches.

Forerunner 165 Full Specifications

Product Info
Garmin Forerunner 165 full smartwatch specifications

Garmin Forerunner 165 Full Specifications, Features and Price

Price $249.99
Device name Garmin Forerunner 165
Device type Fitness/Sport smartwatch
Gender Unisex
Release date February, 2024
Predecessor None
Dimension 43 x 43 x 11.6 mm
Weight 39 grams
Shape Circular
Case material Fiber-reinforced polymer
Strap material Silicone
Bezel material Fiber polymer
Strap size 20 mm
Interchangeable strap 20mm, Yes
Screen protection Chemically strengthened glass
Water resistance Yes, 5ATM
Durability test
Swim-proof Yes, recommended
Color Berry case/lilac band (165 music), Black case/slate gray band, Black case/slate gray band (165 music), Mist-gray case/whitestone band, Mist-gray case/whitestone band (165 music), Turquoise case/aqua band (165 music)
Display size 1.2 inches
Display type AMOLED
Display resolution 390 x 390 px
Pixel density 459 PPI
Always on Yes
Custom watch face Yes
Input type 5 Physical buttons, Touchscreen
Bluetooth ANT+, Bluetooth
Bluetooth calling No
Wi-Fi Yes (Forerunner 165 Music)
Memory card slot No
Technology None
SIM type None
SMS alert Yes
Calls alert Yes
Email alert Yes
Event reminder Yes
Third-party apps alert Yes
Reply to Notifications -
Audio mp3/mp4
Bluetooth music Yes
Loudspeaker No
Microphone No
Camera No
Radio No
Sensor(s) Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometric altimeter, Compass, Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor, Spo2 sensor, Thermometer
Blood oxygen Yes
Blood Pressure No
Calories Yes
Distance Yes
ECG tracking No
Heart rate monitoring Yes
Sleep tracking Yes
Steps Yes
Floors climbed Yes
Stress Yes
Fall detection Yes
Menstrual cycle Yes
VO2 Max Yes
Swim-tracking Yes
Underwater heart rate tracking Yes
On-screen workout No
Sport modes Yes
Battery type non-removable Lithium-polymer
Battery capacity
Battery life Smartwatch mode: Up to 11 days, Battery saver smartwatch mode: Up to 20 days
Charging type Charging dock
Charging time 1-2 hours
Solar charging Yes
Operating system Proprietary OS
Companion app Garmin Connect
Compatibility Android 7.0+, iOS 15.0+
Payment system Garmin Pay
Voice command No
Find my phone Yes
Box content Charger, Manual, Straps, Garmin Forerunner 165

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs 165 Music Features Reviewed


As an entry-level smartwatch, the Forerunner 165 is very simplistic yet durably built. Like high-end Garmin watches, it has a fibre-polymer frame while the straps are made of silicone and can be swapped with 20mm-wide straps. Meanwhile, the display is protected by a chemically strengthened glass and it’s also rated 5ATM which makes it safe to wear while swimming or taking a bath. Though, I won’t recommend wearing it under a hot bath or diving with it. The watch has a touch-sensitive screen in addition to 5 physical buttons that make interaction effortless.

Garmin Forerunner 165 Music available colors
Garmin Forerunner 165 Music available colors

In terms of available colors, you will find the Forerunner 165 Music in black/slate-gray, whitestone, berry/lilac and aqua colors. On the other hand, the non-music version is available in black/slate-gray and whitestone colors. In addition to its simplistic design, the Forerunner 165 weighs just 39 grams. It’s also compact at 43mm case size and quite sleek at 11.6mm thick.

Garmin Forerunner 165 available colors
Garmin Forerunner 165 available colors

Looking at the design of the Forerunner 165, it’s very clear that it’s built for total comfort. I don’t think one would have any problem wearing it all day long which of course makes it a suitable choice for exercising.


In the display department, Gamin is making it clear that they are ditching the transflective MIP display that has been around for long. The Forerunner 165 like recently released Garmin watches also has an AMOLED display which is very colorful and easy to read. It is also equipped with an ambient light sensor which should automatically regulate the brightness of the display.

The Forerunner 165 has a 1.2 inches display and features an optional always-on mode. Note that activating always-on can have a significant impact on the battery life. Personally, I don’t like enabling always-on on my Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, I prefer gesturing to wake the screen. In return, that singular choice ensures I get up to 3 days of battery life.

So, in terms of display, the Forerunner 165 has a nice colorful display though not so easy to read under direct sunlight.

Activity Tracking Features

Regarding activity tracking features, the Forerunner 165 despite being a newer watch lacks the ECG app on Venu 3. It also lacks the ability to monitor skin temperature despite having a thermometer in the list of sensors. However, equipped a number of sensors, it will track heart rate, calories, sleep, stress and blood oxygen. It also features a long list of other activity tracking features which includes a health snapshot, fitness age, respiratory rate and body battery energy monitor.

The Forerunner 165 also has an inbuilt GPS which according to DC Rainmaker did perfectly well against a higher-end Forerunner 265 with multi-band GPS. You also get a long list of sports profiles on the Forerunner 165.

So, in terms of tracking your daily activities, the Forerunner 165 might not have all the other features found in the $1000 Fenix 7X Pro Sapphire Solar but it is still a descent activity tracker.

Music Storage

Onboard music storage is the only difference between the Forerunner 165 and 165 Music. The 165 Music has 4GB storage capacity as well as Wi-Fi that will allow you to download music from Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer to the watch. You can then connect a Bluetooth headphone and enjoy music on the go. This is not possible with the non-music version.

Battery Life

The Forerunner 165 and 165 Music both have a long battery life that lets you go multiple days from a single charge. Garmin claims you can get up to 11 days with the Forerunner 165 and 165 Music. And with GPS tracking active, you can expect up to 17 hours of battery life. There is also a battery-saver mode that when activated can get you up to 20 days of battery life.

BatteryLifeForerunner 165Forerunner 165 Music
Smartwatch ModeUp to 11 daysUp to 11 days
Battery Saver ModeUp to 20 daysUp to 20 days

Meanwhile, playing music and tracking your route at the same time with the Forerunner 165 music will get you about 6-7 hours of battery life. In all, it’s important to state that both the Forerunner 165 and 165 Music have the same battery life.

Forerunner 165 or 165 Music: Which is Better?

From all I have stated so far you can see that the Forerunner 165 and 165 Music are the same except for the ability to store music. Based on that, I won’t say the Forerunner 165 Music is better than the Forerunner 165. It’s totally dependent on whether you consider onboard music storage to be worth the extra $50.

If you want to be able to listen to music without having to carry your phone along, then the Forerunner 165 Music is the right choice. Personally, I won’t think twice about picking the 165 Music, I love the convenience that comes with leaving my phone at home especially if running is your favorite outdoor workout.

On the flip side, if you don’t mind carrying your phone along, then you can always use the Forerunner 165 to control music playing on your phone while you save $50.

In all, it’s your call, you decide.