Garmin Forerunner 255 Music test: the mid-range running watch has improved

The long-awaited Forerunner 255 has arrived. And this time, Garmin didn’t settle for a simple software update. This new model is equipped with some features usually reserved for high-end watches and offers one of the most attractive technical specifications: multiband GPS, Garmin Pay, barometric altimeter, triathlon mode .. .This Forerunner 255 has everything to convince.

The Garmin Forerunner 255.

Compared to the 245 model, the novelties are legion. First of all, we find two case sizes, as is often the case with Garmin today. The classic 255, sold for €349.99, is thus joined by a more compact 255S, marketed at the same price. If the first sports a large 46 mm case, the second is 41 mm, aimed specifically at a female audience.

Each comes in a “Music” version, €50 more expensive. Forerunner 255 Music and 255S Music can store up to 500 songs in their internal memory, so you can listen to them without having to carry your smartphone. Note that between the classic and Music versions, the only difference is in the music storage.

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Ergonomics and design

This Forerunner 255 has a relatively large case (45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9 mm). If your wrist is too small, we naturally advise you to turn to the 255S version. Despite its size, the Forerunner 255 feels great on the wrist. Made of fiber-reinforced polymer, the case can be worn comfortably for hours. The same observation for the silicone bracelet, which fits all wrist circumferences and does not irritate in any way, even when wet.

The case of the Garmin Forerunner 255.

The case of the Garmin Forerunner 255.

This Forerunner 255 is also waterproof up to 5 ATM. This means you can shower or swim comfortably with it. Be careful, however, if you go diving, surfing or jet skiing, too violent changes in pressure can make the case worse.

The back of the Garmin Forerunner 255 case.

The back of the Garmin Forerunner 255 case.

Who says big case, usually says big screen. If not large, the slab of this Forerunner 255 is spread 1.3 inches, or 0.2 inches more than the 245. At the same time, the definition increases to 260 x 260 px against 240 x 240 px before. This small gain helps to aerate the Garmin interface display. The manufacturer remains faithful to the non-touch transflective MIP screens, as discreet as they are legible, but not good. We’re a long way from what a Venu 2 can do, for example.

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Interface

With five buttons and a non-touch screen, this Forerunner 255 offers navigation strictly similar to previous Garmin models. So there is a valid button, a backspace, two to scroll through the menus and one last dedicated to the backlight. However, the experience offered by the wrist continues to be improved, especially in terms of personalization and data analysis.

So when we wake up we have the right to a “morning report”: a summary of our night when we slept with a watch on our wrist, personal training suggestions or even data on our recovery or – bag- or – the change recorded in the heart rate. Although trivial, these data often prove relevant and allow us to approach our day with better awareness of our state of form.

Another innovation is the arrival of Garmin Pay in the 200 series, which offers a little autonomy in sports outings. A welcome feature.

We also noticed the deployment of “race widgets” to plan a session or the presence of Live Track, a tool that allows our friends to follow our efforts live. Many great new additions to the catalog of functions already available in the Forerunner 200 series, such as Garmin Coach, PacePro or turn-by-turn guidance.

The Garmin Forerunner 255 running display.

The Garmin Forerunner 255 running display.

On the wrist, a lot of data is easily accessible. Live heart rate, training status, sleep tracking, number of steps, energy level of the “body battery”, floors climbed, calories burned or hours of sunrise or sunset .. . available. We still recommend consulting all this data on a larger screen, through Garmin Connect on a smartphone or computer.

If the Forerunners are above all intended for runners, this 255 offers about thirty other sports profiles on the wrist: biathlon, triathlon or even swimrun. During the sessions, it is possible to customize each of the screens displayed, and to accommodate up to 6 metrics of your choice. A very nice freedom of use, which allows you to improve your performance at a glance. Especially since the choice is plethoric: stopwatch, pace, distance, speed, cadence, vertical oscillation gauge, altitude, ascent, live or average heart rate… Also note that it is now possible to display the power provided in full stroke. However, you have to go through an external power sensor, the Forerunner 255 is not able to calculate it on its own. When walking or running, it is possible to show your GPS track and activate an option to return to the start with your watch. The functions have crossed over to the high-end models of the American manufacturer, especially the Fenix​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ This high level of personalization contributes to the comfort of using this watch.

The large amount of data displayed during the run of the Garmin Forerunner 255.

The large amount of data displayed during the run of the Garmin Forerunner 255.

Like other Forerunner models, the screen stays on all the time and automatically backlights when wrist movement is detected. In use, this routine offers excellent readability. Be careful though: without the on-board light sensor, the backlight is sometimes too bright, especially when used at night or when awake.

Displaying notifications on the Garmin Forerunner 255.

Displaying notifications on the Garmin Forerunner 255.

In this Forerunner 255, notifications are displayed very clearly. The text is large enough to scan at a glance. Messages from WhatsApp are accompanied by the logo of the application, like from Messenger, for example. However, the number of recognized apps is still very low and we often find ourselves reading content without knowing its source.

Music display on the Garmin Forerunner 255.

Music display on the Garmin Forerunner 255.

Having been around for generations, music control is still just as practical. The display is successful and the navigation is efficient. Not to mention that the storage – up to 500 titles – can accommodate beautiful playlists.

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Uses and Accuracy

This Garmin Forerunner 255 combines a whole series of sensors. There is a GPS, a heart rate monitor, a barometric altimeter, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a thermometer or even a pulse oximeter.

Let’s start with GPS, which now allows three modes of operation: GPS only, multi GNSS (combining GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) and dual frequency multi GNSS. As its name suggests, this last mode doubles the GPS and GLONASS tracking frequency. It is very effective, even in the city, where its accuracy remains satisfactory. There is nothing to do with GPS mode alone or with a smartphone. The layout is more realistic here.

In blue, the GPS track of the Forerunner 255, in red, of an iPhone 12.

In blue, the GPS track of the Forerunner 255, in red, of an iPhone 12.

For its part, the heart rate monitor provides good monitoring in almost all situations. In a long outing without sudden changes in heart rate, the watch offers results similar to those obtained by the Polar H10 chest strap that served as our reference.

In blue, the Forerunner 255, in red the Polar H10 chest strap.

In blue, the Forerunner 255, in red the Polar H10 chest strap.

On the other hand, during an interval exercise, the Forerunner 255 will follow long changes in heart rate, but only the intervals of a few minutes. To catch the bottom, we can clearly predict, in the last two thirds of the curve, an exercise of 6 x 800 meters distance with 3 minutes of rest. The curves are almost identical to those found on the Polar H10 chest strap. Unfortunately, it is not very accurate in the first third of the graph. This part corresponds to changes in the course of 30 seconds. In these conditions, where the differences are sharp and short, the Forerunner 255 shows more difficulty following.

In blue, the Forerunner 255, in red, the Polar H10 chest strap that serves as our reference.

In blue, the Forerunner 255, in red, the Polar H10 chest strap that serves as our reference.

The Forerunner 255 thus can be relevant in most situations and especially in the race. However, you should rely a little on this during a session based only on very strong cardio variations.

Strong points

  • Complete interface.

  • Successful Garmin Connect app.

  • Very accurate GPS.

  • 10 days of autonomy.

  • Music storage.

  • Garmin Pay.

Weak points

  • Non-touch transflective screen.

  • Display of summary notifications.

  • The accuracy of cardio monitoring is not very good with rapid frequency changes.

Conclusion

we tried that we wanted
Global score

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

How does grading work?

Let’s not go overboard, the Forerunner 255 is an excellent watch for runners. Its GPS is accurate, the cardio is generally very satisfying and comfortable autonomy … The icing on the cake, the 255 opens triathlons and increases the software suggestions to optimize the performance of its wearer.

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