Garmin Forerunner 165 vs 265 – Which is Better?

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Garmin makes some of the best GPS smartwatches and the latest addition to their long list of watches is the Forerunner 165 – an entry-level GPS smartwatch with a colorful AMOLED display, durably built and loaded with lots of activity tracking features. It also boasts up to 11 days of battery life and comes in two models, a music version that lets you download music which you can listen to offline and a non-music version.

Forerunner 165 vs 265 - Main Difference
The Forerunner 265 is a more comprehensive watch than the Forerunner 165

The Forerunner 165 is not a successor to the cheaper Forerunner 55, neither is it a successor to the higher-priced Forerunner 265. It’s actually a whole new model that falls in between the Forerunner 55 and 265. In this post, I’ll compare the Forerunner 165 vs 265 – what’s the difference and which should you get? We will take a look at the design, battery life and activity-tracking features of these two to help you make a more informed decision.

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs 265 Full Specifications

Before anything else, let’s take a look at the technical specifications of the Forerunner 165 vs 265.

 
 
Product Info
Garmin Forerunner 165 full smartwatch specifications

Garmin Forerunner 165 Full Specifications, Features and Price

Garmin Forerunner 265s Full Smartwatch Specifications

Garmin Forerunner 265s Full Smartwatch Specifications, Features and Price

Garmin Forerunner 265 Full Smartwatch Specifications, Features and Price

Garmin Forerunner 265 Full Smartwatch Specifications, Features and Price

Price $249.99 $423.00 $369.99
ABOUT DEVICE ABOUT DEVICE ABOUT DEVICE ABOUT DEVICE
Device name Garmin Forerunner 165 Garmin Forerunner 265s Garmin Forerunner 265
Device type Fitness/Sport smartwatch Fitness/Sport smartwatch Fitness/Sport smartwatch
Gender Unisex Unisex Unisex
Release date February, 2024 March, 2023 March, 2023
Predecessor None Garmin Forerunner 255 Garmin Forerunner 255
Successor
Versions Forerunner 265, Forerunner 265s Forerunner 265, Forerunner 265s
BODY BODY BODY BODY
Dimension 43 x 43 x 11.6 mm 41.7 x 41.7 x 12.9 mm 46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9 mm
Weight 39 grams 39 grams 47 grams
Shape Circular Circular Circular
Case material Fiber-reinforced polymer Fiber-reinforced polymer Fiber-reinforced polymer
Strap material Silicone Silicone Silicone
Bezel material Fiber polymer Fiber-reinforced polymer Fiber-reinforced polymer
Strap size 20 mm 18 mm 22 mm
Interchangeable strap 20mm, Yes 18mm, Yes 22 mm, Yes
Screen protection Chemically strengthened glass Corning Gorilla Glass 3 Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Water resistance Yes, 5ATM Yes, 5ATM Yes, 5ATM
Durability test
Swim-proof Yes, recommended Yes, recommended 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) Black, Pink, Whitestone Aqua, Black, Whitestone
DISPLAY DISPLAY DISPLAY DISPLAY
Display size 1.2 inches 1.1 inches 1.3 inches
Display type AMOLED LCD, Memory-in-pixel (MIP), transflective LCD, Memory-in-pixel (MIP), transflective
Display resolution 390 x 390 px 360 x 360 pixel 416 x 416 pixels
Pixel density 459 PPI 462 ppi 452.5 PPI
Always on Yes Yes Yes
Custom watch face Yes Yes Yes
Input type 5 Physical buttons, Touchscreen 5 Physical buttons, Touchscreen 5 Physical buttons, Touchscreen
CONNECTIVITY CONNECTIVITY CONNECTIVITY CONNECTIVITY
Bluetooth ANT+, Bluetooth ANT+, Bluetooth ANT+, Bluetooth
Bluetooth calling No No No
GPS Galileo, GLONASS, GPS Galileo, GLONASS, GPS Galileo, GLONASS, GPS
NFC Yes Yes Yes
Wi-Fi Yes (Forerunner 165 Music) Yes Yes
MEMORY MEMORY MEMORY MEMORY
RAM
ROM 4GB 8GB 8GB
Memory card slot No No No
CELLULAR CONNECTIVITY CELLULAR CONNECTIVITY CELLULAR CONNECTIVITY CELLULAR CONNECTIVITY
Technology None None None
SIM type None None None
Band
NOTIFICATIONS NOTIFICATIONS NOTIFICATIONS NOTIFICATIONS
SMS alert Yes Yes Yes
Calls alert Yes Yes Yes
Email alert Yes Yes Yes
Event reminder Yes Yes Yes
Third-party apps alert Yes Yes Yes
Reply to Notifications - - -
MEDIA MEDIA MEDIA MEDIA
Audio mp3/mp4 mp3 mp3
Bluetooth music Yes Yes Yes
Loudspeaker No No No
Microphone No No No
Camera No No No
Radio No No No
SENSORS SENSORS SENSORS SENSORS
Sensor(s) Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometric altimeter, Compass, Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor, Spo2 sensor, Thermometer Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometric altimeter, Compass, Garmin Elevate v4 HR sensor, Gyroscope, Multi-band GPS sensor, Thermometer Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometric altimeter, Compass, Garmin Elevate v4 HR sensor, Gyroscope, Multi-band GPS sensor, Thermometer
ACTIVITY TRACKING ACTIVITY TRACKING ACTIVITY TRACKING ACTIVITY TRACKING
Blood oxygen Yes Yes Yes
Blood Pressure No No No
Calories Yes Yes Yes
Distance Yes Yes Yes
ECG tracking No No No
Heart rate monitoring Yes Yes Yes
Sleep tracking Yes Yes Yes
Steps Yes Yes Yes
Floors climbed Yes Yes Yes
Stress Yes Yes Yes
Fall detection Yes Yes Yes
Menstrual cycle Yes Yes Yes
VO2 Max Yes Yes Yes
Swim-tracking Yes Yes Yes
Underwater heart rate tracking Yes Yes Yes
On-screen workout No Yes Yes
Sport modes Yes Yes Yes
BATTERY BATTERY BATTERY BATTERY
Battery type non-removable Lithium-polymer non-removable Lithium-polymer non-removable Lithium-polymer
Battery capacity
Battery life Smartwatch mode: Up to 11 days, Battery saver smartwatch mode: Up to 20 days Smartwatch mode: up to 14 days, GPS mode: Up to 15 hours GPS mode: Up to 14 hours, Smartwatch mode: Up to 13 days
Charging type Charging dock Charging dock Charging dock
Charging time 1-2 hours 1-2 hours 1-2 hours
Solar charging Yes No No
PLATFORM PLATFORM PLATFORM PLATFORM
Chipset
CPU
GPU
Operating system Proprietary OS Proprietary OS Proprietary OS
MISC MISC MISC MISC
Companion app Garmin Connect Garmin Connect Garmin Connect
Compatibility Android 7.0+, iOS 15.0+ Android 7.0+, iOS 15.0+ Android 7.0+, iOS 15.0+
Payment system Garmin Pay Garmin Pay Garmin Pay
Voice command No No No
Find my phone Yes Yes Yes
Box content Charger, Manual, Straps, Garmin Forerunner 165 Charger, Manual, Straps, Garmin Forerunner 265s Charger, Manual, Straps, Garmin Forerunner 265

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs 265 Features Reviewed

Design

Regarding design, both the Forerunner 165 and 265 are durably built and are also very lightweight. You shouldn’t have any problems wearing any of these all day if you so wish.

Both watches have a fiber-polymer frame paired with silicone bands. Though, while the Forerunner 165 has a chemically strengthened screen, the Forerunner 265 has a more durable Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screen.

Moreover, while the Forerunner 165 comes in only a 43mm case size, the Forerunner 265 like its predecessor, comes in two sizes; 42 and 46mm sizes. As a result, while the Forerunner 165 is compatible with 20mm-wide straps, the 42mm 265 supports 18mm straps while the bigger 46mm unit supports 20mm-wide straps.

Both the Forerunner 165 and 265 are rated 5ATM which means that each of these two is waterproof and can be worn while swimming in the pool or perhaps taking a bath in the shower.

So as far as design is concerned, both the Forerunner 165 and 265 have an outstanding design, though, the 265 with its more durable screen is slightly sturdier.

Display

AMOLED display is now common on recently released Garmin watches which solidifies claims that Garmin is moving away from their transflective MIP display that many have come to love. Both the Forerunner 165 and 265 have a colorful AMOLED display that’s easy to read thanks to a built-in ambient light sensor that auto-regulates the brightness of the display. Both watches also have touch-sensitive displays in addition to five physical buttons that make interaction with the watch easy.

Though, while the Forerunner 165 has a 1.2 inches display, the Forerunner 265 has a 1.1 inches and 1.3 inches display for the 42mm and 46mm units respectively.

In terms of display quality, there is no difference between the Forerunner 165 and 265. Though the 265 features the newly introduced Red Shift that let you choose from different display colors, allowing you to choose the color that best suits you.

Music Storage

Another difference between the Forerunner 165 and 265 is the storage capacity. Both watches have Wi-Fi which will allow you to download music from supported music services such as Spotify, Deezer or Amazon Music. However, while the Forerunner 165 has a 4GB storage, the Forerunner 265 is equipped with 8GB storage which will allow you to download even more of your favorite tracks.

Music StorageForerunner 165Forerunner 165 MusicForerunner 265
Music Storage

To listen to music on any of these two, you will need to connect a Bluetooth headphone.

Activity Tracking Features

Both the Forerunner 165 and 265 are well-equipped to track all the ways you move. Each of these offers loads of health tracking features including tracking your heart rate, sleep, stress, blood oxygen and floors climbed. However, as you would expect for a higher-priced watch, the Forerunner 265 has more activity-tracking features.

Unlike the Forerunner 165, the 265 features training metrics like training loads and training status. Moreover, unlike the 165, it also features the newly introduced training readiness which gives you an overview of your fitness level. The Forerunner 265 also features onscreen animated workouts and onscreen animated muscle maps that show which muscle has been worked after an exercise. These two features are not present on the Forerunner 165.

Activity TrackingForerunner 165Forerunner 265
Track heart rate, stress, Spo2, floors, calories
Training Readiness
Training Load
Training Status
Onscreen Animated Workout Maps
Onscreen Animated Muscle Maps
Multi-Band GPS
Multisport Activity Tracking

Moreover, unlike the 165, the Forerunner 265 is a multisport watch that can track multiple activities at the same time. Even more is that while both watches have inbuilt GPS, the Forerunner 265 like the higher-end Forerunner 965 and Fenix 7 Pro features multi-band GPS that ensures mapping accuracy even in difficult terrains like those with very tall buildings. However, according to DC Rainmaker, the Forerunner 165 despite not having dual-band GPS did incredibly well in mapping routes. You should note that enabling multi-band GPS can have a significant impact on battery life. The Forerunner 265 also features more sports profiles than the 165.

So regarding activity tracking features, the Forerunner 265 is a more comprehensive watch than the Forerunner 165.

Battery Life

Apart from having a more durable screen, more health tracking features and higher storage capacity, the Forerunner 265 also has a longer battery life than the 165.

Battery LifeForerunner 165Forerunner 265
Smartwatch ModeUp to 11 daysUp to 14 days
GPS ModeUp to 19 hoursUp to 20 hours

According to Garmin, you can get up to 11 days with the Forerunner 165. Meanwhile, it’s up to 15 days and 13 days with the 42mm and 46mm units of the Forerunner 265 respectively. Moreover with GPS enabled, it’s up to 17 hours with the Forerunner 165, and on the other hand, it’s up to 24 hours and 20 hours for the 42mm and 46mm units of the 265 respectively.

So while the Forerunner 165 has a long battery life that lets you go multiple days from a single charge, the Forerunner 265 lets you go even longer.

Forerunner 165 or 265 – Which Should You Get?

In all, the Forerunner 265 is a better-equipped watch than the Forerunner 165. It has a stronger Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screen, the storage capacity is bigger, it features multi-band GPS and also has more activity tracking features. Moreover, it has a longer battery life than the Forerunner 165. But are these worth the extra $150? In my opinion, I think so but it’s up to you to decide.

Forerunner 165 vs Forerunner 255

The Forerunner 255 is priced at $400 but has similar features as the Forerunner 265 except that it lacks training readiness, 4GB of storage and has a transflective MIP display. So which is better between the Forerunner 165 and 255?

Well, while the Forerunner 165 has a more colorful AMOLED display, the Forerunner 255 has more activity-tracking features and supports multi-band GPS. It also has a longer battery life than the Forerunner 165. Moreover, like the Forerunner 265, the Forerunner 255 also features on-screen animated workouts and onscreen animated muscle maps. The Forerunner 255 is also a multisport watch that can track multiple activities simultaneously and it has a Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

So clearly, the Forerunner 255 is also a better-equipped watch than the Forerunner 165.