Garmin's dreamy new running smartwatches come with AMOLED screens and excellent battery life

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Garmin's dreamy new running smartwatches come with AMOLED screens and excellent battery life
Garmin's not-so-mysterious new members of the Forerunner family are now official after essentially leaking in full over the last couple of weeks or so, and their value proposition is pretty much as simple as it is undeniably attractive.

Just like their names suggest, the Forerunner 265 and Forerunner 965 smartwatches are designed to keep an eye on your running first and foremost (as well as virtually any other type of outdoor or indoor physical activity).

What sets these bad boys apart from all other Forerunners released in the past, 255 and 955 models included, is a "vibrant" AMOLED display. Yes, the 265 has one of those, measuring 1.3 inches in diameter and sporting a resolution of 416 x 416 pixels, and naturally, the higher-end 965 comes with a slightly larger and higher-res 1.4-inch 454 x 454 AMOLED touchscreen in tow.

The Garmin Forerunner 265 is up for grabs right now

Priced at $449.99 in 42 and 46mm case sizes, this thing can be yours in just a couple of days if you order it from its manufacturer's official US e-store right away. The smaller model is technically branded Forerunner 265S, and believe it or not, it promises to last longer than its big brother between charges, at up to a whopping 15 days in "smartwatch mode" and 24 hours in "GPS mode."

Garmin Forerunner 265

Running Watch with AMOLED Display, 46mm, Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Bezel, Gorilla Glass 3 Lens, Silicone Strap, Three Color Options, Up to 13 Days of Battery Life in Smartwatch Mode

Garmin Forerunner 265S

Running Watch with AMOLED Display, 42mm, Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Bezel, Gorilla Glass 3 Lens, Silicone Strap, Three Color Options, Up to 15 Days of Battery Life in Smartwatch Mode

Of course, the non-S-branded Garmin Forerunner 265 is no battery life pushover either, claiming a maximum endurance rating of 13 days and 20 hours in smartwatch and GPS modes respectively, with all of these numbers eclipsing what other premium AMOLED wearables are currently capable of.

Then again, Garmin is probably not going after the same "mainstream" audience as the likes of the Apple Watch Series 8 or Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 here, nonetheless aiming to strike the best possible balance between fitness and lifestyle features.

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The Forerunner 265 can do a lot of the same things as the best smartwatches out there, supporting an optional Always-On display mode... for users who like to constantly hug a wall while monitoring everything from heart rate variability to sleep quality, running dynamics, training effect, VO2 Max, blood oxygen saturation, stress levels, energy levels, and menstrual cycle. 

The Garmin Forerunner 965 is coming soon

Yes, you can already order this thing as well from Garmin at $599.99 a pop in a single 47mm case size and three color options, but you'll have to wait between 5 and 8 weeks for the company to ship your favorite model.

Garmin Forerunner 965

Premium Running Watch with AMOLED Touchscreen, 47mm, Titanium Bezel, Gorilla Glass DX Lens, Silicone Strap, Three Color Options, Up to 23 Days of Battery Life in Smartwatch Mode

Will that longer wait and the extra expense compared to the 265 pay off? If you're the kind of "athlete who strives to be the best" at everything, Garmin seems to think so, and we're inclined to agree with the wearable industry veteran.

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This is not just a slightly larger and heavier device than the Forerunner 265, also rocking a stronger and more durable body combining a "lightweight" titanium bezel with a Corning Gorilla Glass DX lens and silicone strap instead of a "fiber-reinforced polymer" bezel and Gorilla Glass 3 lens.

We might not be looking at a fully rugged smartwatch here capable of taking on the Apple Watch Ultra in the battle against elements, but outdoor lovers should rest assured knowing that the Forerunner 965 can probably handle one or two jungle runs, as well as the toughest possible open water swimming sessions.

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There are also a few sensors added to an already generous list of Forerunner 265 functionalities for this 965 variant, which can provide real-time stamina insights, ClimbPro information, and short-term to mid-term load ratio tracking to maximize your results and help you recover more easily after draining that last little drop of energy.

Unfortunately, ECG monitoring is not supported by any of the two new Garmin smartwatches at launch, putting them at a pretty big disadvantage compared to the competition in one potentially life-saving area.

What the Apple Watch Ultra can't possibly hope to rival is the incredible battery life of the Garmin Forerunner 965, rated at up to 31 hours in GPS mode and 23 days (yes, days) in "smartwatch mode." Last but certainly not least, this absolute beast of a fitness-friendly smartwatch also comes with full-color, built-in maps to "help athletes stay on track and go the distance."

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